What is CPD for Massage Therapists?

What is CPD for Massage Therapists?

28 Jul 2021

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Massage therapists manipulate muscles and other soft tissues in the body to relieve pain, reduce stress and improve general well-being. In order to maintain and enhance their professionalism, massage therapists are increasingly required to ensure that they update their skills and knowledge through ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This article will provide a brief overview of CPD for therapists, the professional bodies within the industry, as well outline the CPD requirements.

Professional development for Massage Therapists

As a massage therapist, you will provide massage techniques and health and wellness services for your clients to treat a wide range of illnesses and issues. Some could need rehabilitation following a sports injury, while other clients may help to manage a long-term health condition. Massage therapy is typically used independently or in conjunction with other treatments and is a complementary therapy to conventional medicine.

The intention of Continuing Professionals Development, or CPD, is for therapists to improve the quality of their current or future work, to keep in touch with current practice and develop their education and to expand treatment range and expertise. Engagement in ongoing professional development enables therapists to demonstrate their commitment to keeping up to date with new knowledge and developments in their industry whilst ensuring safe and effective practice.

CPD offers accountability for an individual’s own development at all stages of their professional life as well as demonstrating a commitment to best practice which is an essential concept with regard to protection of the public. Ultimately, effective CPD for therapists should be used to benefit their service users, whether that is the public or other healthcare professionals. Benefits for both Patients and Therapists can include:

Benefits for Patients:

  • Improvement in the quality of care provided to patients
  • Reassurance that the therapist is up to date with new techniques
  • Improved patient confidence in the therapist’s abilities 

Benefits for You:

  • An opportunity to improve your medical knowledge and career
  • Improved relationship with professional groups and other massage therapists
  • Greater awareness of developments in the field of medicine & message therapy
  • Ensure that you maintain and enhance the knowledge and skills that you need to provide a professional service to your clients
  • Ensure that you and your knowledge stay relevant and up to date. In the field of Complementary Medicine changes occur very quickly
  • Assist you in advancing your career and learning new techniques
  • Assist you in being able to support clients with specific complex conditions such as Cancer, Sub Fertility, during Pregnancy etc…
  • Give you support as a therapist long after you have left your school or college of learning
  • Increase your confidence as a therapist 

All registered therapists are required to keep their skills and knowledge up-to-date through Continuing Professional Development (CPD). This can either be in the form of work-based learning, formal and educational activities or self-directed activities. Regardless of the nature of the activity chosen there must be clear learning objectives related to an individual’s professional role and their development as a massage therapist.

CPD for Massage Therapists

Who is the governing body for Therapists in the UK?

Massage therapists can be accredited by the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT), or the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

Established in 1962, the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) is the largest professional association for complementary, holistic beauty and sports therapists. Therapists on the register meet high standards of personal and professional behaviour, technical competence and business practice.

The Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) is the independent regulator for complementary health practitioners in the UK. All CNHC–registered practitioners are entitled to use the CNHC’s quality mark which demonstrates a commitment to professionalism and high standards.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements

All FHT registered Therapists are required to complete a minimum of 10 points per registration year, through developing in all areas of therapies practised. The Federation of Holistic Therapists places the responsibility on each member to decide what their professional development needs are.

Members are encouraged to focus on the quality and outcome of CPD activities, as opposed to the time spent on these. Anything that can help advance a Massage therapist’s professional development and improve their knowledge can be considered as valid CPD. FHT Associates, Affiliates and Student Members are not required to complete CPD.

CNHC CPD requirements

In order to remain on the register, all CNHC registered practitioners are required to participate in CPD. CNHC registrants who are registered for only one discipline must complete a minimum of 15 hours CPD each year, of which 10 hours must be directly relevant to the discipline for which they are registered. The other 5 hours may be more general learning to support their overall development as a professional practitioner.

Multi-disciplinary registrants must complete at least 10 hours CPD directly related to each discipline for which they are registered and another 5 hours of general learning. This means someone who is registered for two disciplines must complete a total of 25 hours; someone registered for three disciplines must complete a total of 35 hours, and so on. CPD has to be relevant to your work as a therapist so activities that are not linked to your therapy work will not count toward CPD requirements.

Generic vs Therapy-Specific CPD

The FHT categorises CPD activities into either specific CPD or generic CPD, depending on whether education provided develops you in a particular therapy only, or will apply to all therapies. Below are some examples of generic CPD:

  • First aid training
  • Anatomy and physiology training
  • Attending a business or marketing course
  • Health and safety training
  • Participating in research
  • Writing/publishing an article about a generic therapy-related topic
  • Reflective practice – such as dealing with emotionally challenging clients
  • Peer supervision 

Therapy-Specific CPD is when the work you do is specific to one of the therapies you practise. Examples include:

  • Attending a post-graduate course
  • A case study, which covers one type of therapy
  • Reflective practice that is relevant to a specific therapy you practise 
Where to find CPD courses

Keeping a CPD record

To confirm that massage therapists are doing the learning they are required, they will be asked to send in their CPD which should be recorded in a professional portfolio. Using a portfolio to record learning experiences will encourage reflection as well as building evidence to support your professional development. Records of CPD must be kept in accordance with the requirements set by the professional body or Member Organisation you belong to.

It is your responsibility to maintain your own CPD portfolio and this should include the following:

  • Date of the activity;
  • Type of activity e.g. professional activity, work based learning, etc;
  • Therapy(s) practised that this activity relates to;
  • Brief description of the activity and how this benefits your practise;
  • Total time to complete activity; and
  • Number of points allocated. 

Please note that members are subject to randomised review. If selected for review, your professional body or employer may need to see evidence of your CPD including any supporting material. It is important that you note on your CPD log which therapies the CPD correlates to.

Where to Find CPD courses for Massage Therapists

CPD courses cover a variety of specialist areas and topics, and can include holistic therapy, acupuncture, deep tissue massage or facial massage, spinal manipulation & mobilisation technique, and other advanced massage techniques. Technology has advanced to the point where online CPD courses now also accepted as valid Continuing Professional Development. By ensuring that training courses have been reviewed and approved by an established organisation, you can ensure that the training courses offered are robust and fit for purpose. One of the most common methods to do this is by ensuring that any CPD training courses have been CPD accredited or certified as being suitable for professional development purposes.

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996, and is the largest and leading independent CPD accreditation organisation working across all industry sectors. Thousands of CPD training courses, events, e-learning programs, conferences, workshops and seminars are formally CPD certified by us every year. We hope this article on CPD for massage therapists was helpful. Please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, training courses, and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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