Professional Development In Massage Therapy

Professional Development Massage Therapy

Better Practice With Professional Development

Professional development or Continuing education (CE) for massage therapy should be considered a welcomed opportunity for therapists who wish to remain recognised in their profession as a  Certified Massage Therapist or Bodyworker.  The Industry in Australia needs to ensure continuous best practice standards within each modality as a matter of good health practice and wellbeing for clients and as a means to advance massage therapy as a career.

Massage therapists on average only take up around 25 hours of continuing education per year largely due to Association Membership requirements and also Health Fund dominated protocols for rebate approval.  Usually this CE involves learning updating methods and techniques, but largely there is a considerable lack of accessible skill and knowledge based learning that brings fresh and new information on the many facets of massage treatment.


The Need for Continuing Education / Professional Development

As in any profession the need to continually update your knowledge base is rooted in the old axiom that ‘knowledge is power’. If we dissect that thinking we can expand our understanding with regards to both the concept of ‘power’ and ‘knowledge’

Within the massage therapy profession there are several recognized modalities, i.e.:  different types of massage. A number of these are taught as part of a mandatory syllabus, others are selected out of interest as “elective specialisations’.  While each State in Australia may teach from the same NATIONAL TRAINING PACKAGE, variations in experience, teacher/trainer expertise, clinical exposure will still result in variation or practical skills among graduates. Competency training does not set the upper bar just the lower one.

In an industry where people’s health and wellbeing are assessed and treated, massage therapists have clear mandate to ensure they understand common and the ‘not-so-common’ complaints of the human body and mind. Like it or not, therapists have a responsibility to each client with regard to “treat” or “not treat”, and to refer where need be if a client’s condition is outside their range of care. This in itself means the therapist needs to understand where their own skills and knowledge lie in the practice of wellness through massage.

Continuing Education then is not just about widening the scope of understanding massage types, it is about understanding as much as you can about the modalities your already practice, their use, benefits and limitations.  It is also about running a practice, a business, a clinic, that has a clear grasp of who your clients should be, how you assess, record, treat, record and manage the day the day government and industry standards in your practice.

Reasons to Commit To Continuing Education

  • Increased Knowledge – increased overall knowledge will enhance your capacity to provide a solid wellness practice and offer clients advice and treatments based on your ‘expertise ’ in the modalities that you chose.
  • Better Understanding – by updating your understanding of illness, human conditions, and treatment advances through different modalities you will understand the reasons behind their use and provide goods advise to client  for different types of massage and how and why each modality might benefit or harm their wellbeing.
  • Increased Skill – by increasing your knowledge and practical skills in your current modalities as well as specialty areas i.e. pregnancy massage, sports massage, lymphatic drainage etc,  you will increase your overall massaging skills allowing better performance and heightened wellness results for clients.
  • Increased Income – becoming the best therapist you can be in  your chosen area of massage, will open doors for increased referrals, and consequent opportunities for practice expansion in an otherwise highly competitive industry in Australia, where many therapists are still struggling to earn an income full-time in this field.  Client retention is pivotal. .

How to Choose Your Continuing Education

How do you go about choosing your continuing education for massage therapy? Since there are over 80 modalities to choose from in your pursuit for diversification and continuous education, this can be an overwhelming task for any new massage practitioner.

Part of this process starts as soon as you start your formalised training in most massage therapy schools and colleges.  You will start to learn about the modalities and at this point find your own passion and interest in these modalities.

Beyond the basic understanding you will receive from your Certificate or Diploma program, you can begin to complete some of your own research into the current trends and specialisations.

Research Steps

  • A general Google search on the keyword of the massage type will give a good background, for example, Shiatsu.
  • Refine the search for blogs or articles on the specific massage type for a better understanding of its benefits.
  • Find out if there is a teacher of the massage technique within reach and check their qualifications.
  • Watch YouTube videos on the modality to see how it is applied and if it would fit in with your own understanding of how you practice massage therapy.
  • Talk to others that have specialized in the modality to find out its benefits and disadvantages.
  • Make sure the modality is officially recognized by Australian Massage Therapy Associations, like Massage Network Inc.


Costs of Continuing Education

The costs for continuing education credits vary greatly between course provider, whether it is online, practical workshop, college based and so on  There are, however, certain aspects to consider:

  • Ensure that the courses taken are in fact supported as part of your CE credit requirements.
  • Compare costs between modalities, from school to school, and teacher to teacher.
  • Compare the long-term benefits of training with regard to your insurance benefits for each massage type.

It is very important to document your CE, keeping records or the course or training, the provider, your certificate or outcome.  These need to be reported to Massage Network if you are seeking or maintaining insurance coverage and or health insurer approval for rebates.


Continuing education for massage therapy is a requirement for most Associations and Insurers across Australia.  You can begin by reviewing our FAQ page then check out our Approved CE providers.

However, even those states that do not require continuing education or are not regulated value continuing education to its benefits.

If you ever move to a different state that requires such a requirement you will be playing catch up and may find yourself unemployable.  In any profession the need for continual education is obvious, even if it’s only to stay competitive and keep your own standards in line with those of your peers.