704-453-1207 sheila@seniorspa.net

How many of you reading this article knew exactly what you wanted to accomplish when you registered for massage school? Did you have a clear image in your mind about your desired work environment, ideal income, clientele and the new lifestyle that would create? Most massage therapists, me included, know that massage school is where they want to be but not where their massage career will take them. As I approach my 25th year as a ‘veteran therapist’, I look back at what a long, strange trip it’s been.

Since I didn’t have children I wasn’t drawn to work with pregnancy or infants. Not being particularly athletic, I wasn’t interested in sports massage training. During a visiting professionals day at school I fell in love with seated chair massage and knew I wanted to learn more. After 10 years in the field I made a life change to home care my father who was stricken with Alzheimer’s, then provided care for my mother’s terminal cancer. After modifying the chair massage techniques, I was able to provide massage for my parents in their wheelchairs, armchairs and hospital beds. My father loved to lean back in his lounger while I did basic skin care on his face, my mother had her own paraffin bath for her arthritis and I had a collection of essential oils and moist heat packs. So I turned their home into a day spa! In 2004 a continuing care retirement community was looking for a geriatric massage therapist to work with their residents in all levels of care and they offered me a contract position. I have a treatment room in their wellness clinic for residents in independent living and provide in room services for residents in the assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care units.

Continuing education needs to be part of your operating budget since 43 US states have licensing requirements. And since you have to spend your valuable resources: time, money and energy, it just makes sense to be a specialist. Why take classes just because they’re inexpensive or offer the hours you require? Instead of dreading taking continuing education classes, looking through industry magazines and catalogs becomes fun!

This article was originally published in Massage Magazine in 2018 – republished with permission