By Frank Merillat

We are now in the midst of license renewal season. (Remember all CEU credits must be completed and recorded by CEBroker before a therapist can renew their massage license.) I have been both an instructor and a participant this past month and I noticed an element of attending live class that I really appreciate. It is the sharing that occurs when people who have somewhat common experience and training get together to build their skills and knowledge. They create a space where the sharing of their experience and expertise can be one of the most valuable parts of the class. 

Here is a good example from the last workshop I presented. These days I am very focused on working with the nervous system. Milton Trager said, “muscles are dumb, it is the mind I am after.” So often we focus on muscle when the muscles are simply responding to the messages from the central nervous system.

A participant in the class has been working with a technique that focuses on addressing the ligaments (ligaments are loaded with sensory receptors that affect movement) He asked me if I would like to experience this, I said yes, and he demonstrated it. It was useful to my body and I asked him to share the work with the class. He teaches this work and I thought there might be other therapists that would be interested. I learned and found an approach that fit into my therapeutic interests and others did as well when time was allowed to share.

Whenever we get in a group there is an opportunity to share our knowledge and expand our knowledge. Since my class was focusing on the exchange of information between the sensory and motor systems, what was offered was a natural extension of the material I was presenting. I find that often I learn from the participants who attend my classes as well as they gain information from the class.

I had a similar experience when I attended the medical errors/law/ethics classes that are required every renewal period. I like to attend these classes even though they require more investment of time. I could complete the requirements via the internet, spend less time and maybe even pay less for the experience. However, I find that by being in a group with others I hear about their concerns and experience on a number of topics. I not only have a massage license, I also have a clinic and thus an establishment license. Various participants talked of their contacts with the inspection process, as a result I was able to make changes that allowed my establishment and fellow therapists to avoid being in violation and thus fined when we were inspected. I was also able to ask specific questions related to my practice that I needed to have clarified. 

It is so important to have others to talk with about this work we do. Whether it is legal stuff like the inspection or learning about a new approach that might benefit one’s practice it is necessary to find sources of support. There is also the need to just have human support. This work we do can be draining on our spirit and energy. We often can feel responsible for the results that our client experiences even if it is not accurate. Massage therapists tend to care about their work and the client’s experience as a result of our work.

I often hear that the therapist feels inadequate when the results are not positive or they feel their knowledge or skills are less than what is needed. The work we do is a learning process and it really helps to have someone to talk with and share our concerns. To put it simply, I really appreciate the opportunity that is there when we gather together and share. I find I am not alone and there are others in this with me. I encourage therapists to attend live classes where interaction and sharing are part of the process. These types of experiences help us grow in many ways.

If you are still looking for classes to complete your renewal requirements, I have several opportunities that might be worth considering. 

8/17 – Getting Specific – Low Back and Hip, specific anatomy and techniques

8/18 – Playing with Feeling – build your palpation skills and work gently

8/24 – Essential Anatomy and Techniques for Chair Massage with Amanda Concha Holmes and I co-teaching

8/25 – The Art of Presence – Accessing the Parasympathetic – Amanda and I will explore ways to bring presence and awareness to your massage practice and life in general.

There is information on the FSM website. To register or talk email fmerillat@mac.com or call 352 371-0743. Do get your required hours scheduled and I hope to see you soon.

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