Massage therapists are generally an impassioned, caring and empathetic group of people. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why students of massage therapy are so inspiring to teach: they’re eager to learn, and have a genuine desire to help other people achieve their health and healing goals.
As Dr. Velvete Womack points out however, the best RMTs take that passion and make it continuously productive. There’s danger in letting passion and learning stagnate after certification. In her article The Future of the Profession and the Evolution of Massage, Womack writes about how too many RMTs leave the profession somewhere around the 7 year mark. After these initial years in practice, some practitioners feel they have mastered all that they are meant to do, and that their profession has grown static.
This shouldn’t be the case. Womack urges practitioners to stop thinking of massage as “all there is.” Instead she calls for the constant redefining and evolving of the practice. She raises a valid point; after all, indicators of any good practitioner in any field include adaptability, credibility, and constant awareness of new research and developments in the field. The same is true for massage therapists. Just because you’ve learned formal techniques and earned certification doesn’t mean that your education is over. The most dedicated practitioners will continue to learn and diversify their expertise throughout their careers.
If you’re looking for ways to continue your education, Womack suggests that RMTs:
1. Take a class about vitamins and natural supplements.
2. Get to know other physicians and therapists near their practice. This is a great way to maintain a positive relationship with those in your work neighbourhood, network, and gain some referrals.
3. We might add to the list: read voraciously! There are some great RMT bloggers and writers who share their thoughts and expertise in a variety of free online spaces. Learn from them and add some diversity to your own perspectives about your practice. Better yet, consider writing yourself! Share personal reflections and insights from your practice and learning.
4. Teach your patients about self-care in all forms. Womack also suggests the importance of tuning in to the things your patients want to know about health, since their RMT is often a first point of contact for medical treatment. Learning about other therapies and supplementary lifestyle practices can help to enhance the service you’re providing to new patients.
If you’re a privately practicing RMT, if you’re a new graduate, or even if you’re just thinking ahead to the type of practitioner you’d like to be, heed Womack’s words. Listen to your patients. Study. Learn. Evolve.