My business is in a rural farm community in Iowa with a population of about seven thousand. I’ve been so fortunate to see significant growth in my business; I started as a solo practitioner and five years later, we are a team of seven (6 massage therapists and 1 intuitive/energy bodyworker).
I believe that part of this success is because I have been dedicated to expanding my service menu & knowledge base, offering something for every-body.
As a new therapist I initially offered Swedish relaxation and deep-tissue/rehabilitative massage, hot stone massage, and reflexology. The more bodies with varying conditions that I encountered in my practice, the more I realized just how necessary it was to continue education—not just to earn credits for license renewal, but especially to learn how to provide more effective bodywork that might help improve clients’ quality of life in some way.
Not only did I look for education based on clients’ massage therapy-related needs, but I also listened to clients’ suggestions about other types of therapeutic bodywork they were interested in trying, or had tried elsewhere and would like to see it offered in our community. If there showed to be enough interest in a particular modality, I would seek it out, learn it, and bring it back to offer it on our service menu. While I estimate that at least 80% of the bodywork we (as I transitioned from solo to small-group practice) performed was out of necessity (chronic pain, repetitive strain, maintenance, etc.), we were receiving more and more requests for more spa and relaxation-oriented services. I’d still say that primarily the bodywork we provide is out of the “necessity” demographic, the spa/luxury part of our service menu has expanded significantly, and new and existing clients are noticing and taking advantage of its new availability.
We always do our best to educate clients about our variety of services, particularly when we feel there may be a modality more suitable to their wellness needs, different than what they originally scheduled. For example, most people (new to massage or new to our office) will ask for “a massage” or online self-schedule for Swedish massage, as they don’t really know fully what the other options on our service menu are. We might find as we go along that either incorporating or completely switching gears to Thai massage might be more beneficial than just doing Swedish—and they may have never heard of Thai massage before in their life, but now love it and request it by name when scheduling with us in the future.
The number and types of resources available today for continuing education are enormous. There are numerous home studies, online seminars, and on-site learning facilities and traveling classes all across the globe. I’d say a few times a month I even receive literature in the mail about upcoming classes available in my area or education that might be of interest/use to me based on information collected from previous CEUs that I have taken. There are several organizations such as the American Massage Therapy Association and Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals who go to great lengths to connect as many massage therapists with as many of these available resources as possible, so nobody misses an opportunity to further their education and add new useful tools to their practice.
Of course, the world of social media has just made communication explode, so information and thoughts that other bodyworkers share online about modalities, classes, and instructors/schools is rather abundant. If nothing else, I think that those in the licensed massage therapy community are for the most part incredibly supportive of one another. As one of my instructors in massage school told us near the end of our training, we are all technically each other’s competition. But even if we are competition, we can choose to either work separately and work harder that way, or we can work together, still each in our own way, and build each other up, which only improves more clients’ experience in the world of massage therapy, which further promotes and puts the massage therapy community/industry in a brighter light (especially those seeking to make stronger relationships between massage/complementary health care and traditional health care). I have always felt supported, receiving constructive feedback from my colleagues in this industry if I have ever had a question about the profession, from hands-on bodywork, to office management, to business-building, ethics, and beyond.
By: Dena Ochoa, LMT, RYT-200
Owner of Healing Arts Therapeutic Massage