Identifying a Great CE Course

I cannot tell you the number of practicing massage therapists who tell me that one of their top five goals in their career is to be able to afford to take whatever continuing ed class they want. To me, that’s sad. It is sad, to me as a practicioner, that there are classes out there that are not affordable to all therapists. And it is sad to me, as an instructor, that the quality of a class is often based on it’s pricing. We all know that cost is the great equalizer when it comes to massage therapy education.

So what is a better way to determine if a class is going to be worth the money? Research the program, and more importantly, the provider, ahead of signing up for the class.

What are the intentions of the provider? Will they answer your questions personally when you get back to your studio and you cannot remember exactly how they said to execute that technique? Also research the quality of the product – the course. Did the provider design the course their self? What is their teaching style?Do they take time to coach each person individually? Will you receive materials to take home with you? Will there be TA to help if the class grows in number? Is the class itself going to enhance your personal practice? These are just a few of the questions you can and should ask when searching for a CE course.  They will help you immensely in pursuit of improving your practice, enhancing your knowledge, and spending your time and money wisely.

I once attended a CE class where one of the attendees actually slept thru much of the two day seminar. I cannot imagine how the instructor felt but, as an attendee, I found it enormously distracting because I kept thinking, “Why did you bother to sign up for this? How do you have enough money to be able to attend a class and get nothing from it?” I know that these people are out there, and you’ve probably seen them too. You may be interested to observe or know how an instructor deals with such distractions.

Perhaps the most important question to research is whether the provider is up to date with their accreditations and licensing. Early in my teaching career, I had a student travel to a class in a resort area about 2 hours away from home. He paid for a weekend class, two nights in a hotel, meals, travel, etc. He was, as we almost all are, audited when his renewal came due. He was very surprised to discover that this particular provider was not up to date on their credentials and had actually allowed them to lapse. My student received no CE credit for that course and subsequently fell out of state compliance, fines ensued, not a good situation. Take the minute or two to check on line that your provider is actually in good standing with NCBTMB or your state before you give them your hard earned money.

You may also want to consider the providers portfolio of class offerings. Providers who offer classes in many disciplines can absolutely be as good or better than instructors who focus on one subject, however, you may want to learn specifically from an “Expert” in a particular discipline. Once you find a reputable provider that you feel a rapport with, it’s nice to have the opportunity to return to them. Does the provider have advanced courses in their field so that you can continue your skill set? Or is this class just an introduction after which you will have to find another instructor to further your knowledge? Consider what you’d like to be able to do with your new skills while choosing the provider.

There are amazing continuing education providers all across the nation who are teaching amazing small classes. They are equally as competent and devoted to their craft as those who are large and filling auditoriums. Please talk to them, learn from them, and share the good news when you find those gems in your region!

Live Now!

WE ARE LIVE IN RAINSVILLE, AL!!! The Alabama AMTA Fall Conference is today and tomorrow and Beth is teaching Reflexology to a great group of practitioners from across the state! Follow us on Twitter for LIVE updates!


“What If…..” Finding my purpose

Since I started planning this website and known that I was going to be writing blog posts, I have come to the realization that I get writer’s block. It’s not really writer’s block, because I’m not really a writer. I am just a person with lots of opinions that I hope some of you will enjoy. At first, I thought this was going to be easy…just talk about what you know, pretend one of your students has asked a question and just answer it…but it’s not that easy when you decide to drop something into cyber-space. At least it’s not for me…what if it’s not worth someone’s time? What if someone thinks my opinion is wrong? What if someone wants to argue with me about what I consider to be solid training? What if…


What if, I go to work everyday with the intention of being the best therapist I am in this moment? What if I went into each session with the intention of doing the best I can for my client? What if I forgot about my grocery list or the argument with my child’s teacher and really listened to my hands? What if I trusted my training? What if I know that I was doing my best to learn more about my profession from providers that I trusted? What if I remembered that massage therapy isn’t a perfect science, but also an art? What if I remembered why I became a therapist in the first place?


I keep asking myself all of these “What Ifs?” and finally, I had an epiphany.


Suddenly the joy of teaching returned to me. Suddenly, I have remembered that I want to help my students become better therapists and in that way, improve their lives. Suddenly I know that what I have to say is going to resonate with some of you. It is going to make you think or perhaps look at your day, your clients or perhaps your career in a slightly different way. Suddenly, I remembered, that’s enough for me.


This site should be a place for discussion. Friendly, encouraging discourse between peers benefits almost every party involved. Yes, I have opinions, but in the end, I am a teacher and a therapist. My goal is for therapists and practitioners to improve their skills. By providing not only my opinions, but the opinions of other seasoned teachers and therapists, Beth Teaches Bodywork aims to help all therapists develop their abilities.


Thanks so much for reading. I truly look forward to hearing from you soon!

Continuing Education as a Resource

One of the primary reasons many of us entered the profession of massage therapy was to have more control over our lives, to have more control of our schedules, and to be our own bosses. Therefore, I know that many of us take great exception to our state’s continuing education requirements for massage therapists. Why? I know it is expensive to pay for tuition for school, and for the testing, and for the licensure, and then for the business start up. Keep investing in your self, keep investing in your business, your practice. You are important. Your practice is your livelihood. These are worthy investments that you should be continually making.

Continuing Education makes you better as a therapist. If you take the right courses, CEs can improve your ability to steer your practice to success. You can take courses to learn about marketing, building clientele, and retain clients. There’s so much to learn, so many choices to make. It can be overwhelming.

My suggestion with finding a CE match is that you make a list. Make a list of your clients that you currently have – their needs, their difficulties and the ways that you are good at helping them and the things that you might want to get better at helping them with. Then make a list of your ideal clients – who are they, what do they do? What needs would you like to meet for them? Then maybe include on your list the things that you were best at during school and the things you had the most trouble with.

You might be starting to se a pattern as you make our list, and everyone’s list should be different. Seek out the things that you need help with as you build your ideal client list. Seek out things that will assist you in becoming a better therapist to your existing client base. Invest in yourself, in your current clients and in your future growth. Don’t always go with the closest or the least expensive class, optimize your time and your will see a bigger reward from your clients.

How to use Chair Massage to your advantage

I teach at a massage school at home in Knoxville, TN. In bodywork, we start our students out learning chair massage (before they move to tables). Once the students get to the table, someone always says, “I hate chair massage.”

I have to admit; I have a sort of love/hate relationship with chair massage myself. I love what it can do for my business, but sometimes I hate the limitations of chair massage. I find that I can do so much more for a client when I have them on the table, when I can use a product so I get better glide, when I have more time to really work a certain trigger point. But I go back to this…I love what chair massage can do for my business.

David Palmer, the inventor of the modern portable massage chair, had a vision. His goal is to make touch therapy a positive experience in our country and our culture. Bringing a massage chair to a public space does just that! The more people that we, as therapists, can expose not just to touch therapy, but specifically to our touch, the more potential clients we reach.

Several of my best table clients came to me first by chair massage, at an event or from an office where I have a regular gig. Chair massage is such a great way for someone to experience your touch, without the time or financial commitment that an hour service requires. Chair massage, in many ways, is also a more comfortable situation for someone who has never experienced massage before. The uninitiated always ask “What if I don’t like massage?” or “What if I don’t like the therapist?” With chair massage, a therapist can take the guessing game out of massage for these skeptics.

Try to set up a weekly or semi-weekly engagement with an office space or organization near you. This is one of the best ways to let many potential clients experience massage. It probably won’t be the highest paying job you will ever have as a massage therapist, but it can pay huge dividends by allowing you to show these clients your expertise. And, best of all, I’ve yet to see an unhappy face saying, ”The massage therapist is here!!”

Don’t get scared by referring out!

Does referring out make us look like less competent therapists? The short answer is “no,” although I think the process makes a lot of therapists feel like that is the client’s perception. I promise it’s not. Knowing your skill level and not risking your client’s health by trying to “figure it out as you go” will make that client appreciate your service and expertise much more.

If we are members of the healthcare profession, then we must act like health care providers. A general practitioner isn’t doing surgery, radiologists don’t deliver babies, and every massage therapist cannot give every massage to every client. In fact, if we try, we aren’t being professional. We are risking our clients, we are risking our personal reputations, and we are jeopardizing the perception of massage therapists across the country.

Your clients don’t expect you to have all the answers, and they won’t respect you if you act like you do. If you can quickly find the answer, do it! But if you know that the best lymphatic practitioner in the area works across town, and that your client would benefit from working with them, by all means make that suggestion. If you attempt to BS your way through an MLD service when you don’t know what’s going on, your client will be able to tell. Then, suppose your client hears about this great MLD practitioner from her doctor and asks you why you didn’t refer out, what are you going to say? “My pocket book is more important than your progress?” “I didn’t want to risk losing you, so I hoped you wouldn’t find out about them?” No. Honesty is the best policy.

Do you know how many people that disgruntled client is going to tell about her experiences with you? Do you think she’ll tell her doctor? Do you think she’ll tell the nurses in that practice? I bet she will, and I bet they will remember your name. Not in a good way. And that will certainly not benefit your practice.

Now what if you DO recommended that practitioner to her, and then her doctor does the same the following week? Wouldn’t you like her to tell the doctor, “That’s the same person my regular therapist suggested I see for MLD! Beth is such a great therapist, she really has my wellness in mind!” What do you think the nurse who hears that conversation is going to say?

The best outcome for our clients should always be foremost in our mind if we want to build a long-lasting business. Clients will come and go, but they will remember you. Even if a client leaves your practice for this reason or that, they will remember how you treated them and how knowledgeable you were; not just in your work, but in how well you helped them find the correct solutions.

Is Social Media helping or hurting?

A friend of mine and I recently made a pact to never look at Pinterest again…”It makes me feel completely inadequate,” she complained to me.  I know the feeling well! Lately, everywhere you look, websites are making you feel bad about yourself: too much gluten, too little exercise, not enough sleep, too much caffeine. What about your massage practice? Social media and the over-abundance of information online are giving therapists low self-esteem about their businesses, too.

So what can we do about this?  Where do we turn for advice?  Sometimes it seems like all those Facebook groups would have the answers, just join one and ask a question and more seasoned therapists are there to lend a helping hand.  Great  idea?  But is that really what is happening?

I feel like many of these groups, well meaning though their origins are, have become a bastion of therapist shaming.

“Work at a franchise?  You are destroying the world that therapists knew before the dawn of franchises!!”

“Use Groupon?  Oh my god, how can you get yourself out of bed in the morning, you are undervaluing yourself and ALL massage therapists everywhere…you should be ashamed of yourself for trying to bring people into your business!!”

“Need help with a client who has a medical issue?  What the heck is wrong with the school you attended…how could you possibly be allowed out in the world with such little knowledge of massage!!”

“Want advice on how to deal with a co-worker?  What the heck is wrong with you, why aren’t you out on your own, in the open world giving chair massages to whomever will sit there long enough!!”

“Want to make more money in your private practice?  Hire people, work out deals with the concierge at high-end big city hotels, surely there are a couple of those in small town America where you have your practice!!”

Obviously, some of these are hypocritical and self-defeating, and that is half of my point.

Here’s my solution…Quit looking at Facebook too!!  Those kind souls who started Facebook groups didn’t mean for things to turn out the way they have.  And those people who are giving advice… do you really know them?  Do you know how long they have been practicing?  Do you know if they have a successful practice?  Do they know you?  Do they know if you live in a small town or a big city?  Whether you are a single parent working three jobs or someone who is just doing massage on the side until you retire from another profession?  Find a coach; find a mentor.  Find someone near you that you admire who is willing to be your support.  Ask at your school or your place of business.  Don’t rely on blind information; it’ll just make you feel bad.

The Myth of the $100K Massage Therapist

There’s a book written about how to make $100,000 per year as a massage therapist. It’s written by a lovely woman who made her fortune in massage working in Seattle and on high-end celebrity clients. Her book is insightful, and very helpful if you live in a large city and you are willing to work the hotel trade. My problem with her book is that most of us don’t live in large metropolitan areas. We don’t have fifty different five star hotels with concierge’s palms to grease… so what do we do?

(And I must admit, I live in Knoxville, TN, which while not a huge metropolitan city is by no means a small town. Those of you in small towns have a real challenge to educate your area on the benefits of massage, as well as to remove the stigma that often surrounds massage in small towns.)

Well, my suggestion is that we do the same thing we do when we get a challenging client on our tables…we get creative, we try different things, and we don’t stop until we find a way to make what we do work!!

There are lots of different marketing ideas out there. If you live in small town America, the best thing that you have is your reputation. No matter what you do, word of mouth is going to be your best marketing tool. But there are only so many people you are going to be able to touch in a day, so how can you leverage your time and your skill set? There are actually lots of different ways.

One of the most effective is a referral card. Print up some cards, postcard sized, and give them to each client who comes to see you. Offer their friends a small discount or a sampler service, and then offer the client the same when their friend books.

Another way is to speak to groups, if you are comfortable talking to groups of people. Most local service clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Junior League), your local library, and other civic organizations are in need of speakers…many do a healthy living series annually. Bring a discount card with you, and hand them out liberally. There’s a old salesperson’s saying that goes, “you must give away 100 business cards to earn one client’s business.” Think of that! You need to do 100 chair massages to earn one good, steady client; that is going to take a while.

And always remember, it’s your personal reputation we are talking about here. So think about whom you want to present to your community. You are a professional; you have a business to build! What do think of your banker if he is wearing shorts and a t-shirt to work? Would you want your doctor to have a runny nose? Does your manicurist have dirty nails? Present yourself in a manner that will draw the type of clients that you’d like to see in your business. If you are comfortable with working on athletes, then clean, nice sweat pants, a polo shirt and tennis shoes might be the dress that you should wear. If you want to work with alternative health seekers, perhaps yoga pants and a flowing top and some sandals that you slip off during the session is the way to go. Remember that you are always representing your business – in the carpool line, in the grocery store – dress the part. Be prepared, have business cards and your calendar with you at all times. Keep your website updated. You are a business owner now; you are on your way!!


Hello all! Welcome to Beth Teaches Bodywork, a blog intended to share knowledge, experience and therapeutic touch with Massage Therapists, clients and anyone else who may be interested.

In this space, we will have several weekly items, such as Muscle Mondays and Weekend Wisdom. We will also be sharing plenty of other great information on massage, healthy living, relaxation and plenty of other topics. Please check back regularly for new content and follow us on Twitter @ContattoWEC.

Have a wonderful day and be well!


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