The Rub: a podcast about massage therapy

In-Person vs. Online: The Future of Massage Education

April 17, 2024 Healwell Season 1 Episode 8
In-Person vs. Online: The Future of Massage Education
The Rub: a podcast about massage therapy
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The Rub: a podcast about massage therapy
In-Person vs. Online: The Future of Massage Education
Apr 17, 2024 Season 1 Episode 8
Healwell

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Welcome to "The Rub," a captivating podcast delving into the world of massage therapy. Join your host, Corey Rivera, as they explore the intricacies of continuing education in massage therapy with guests Ruth Werner, Whitney Lowe, and Rebecca Sturgeon.

In this enlightening episode, Corey engages in insightful conversations with industry experts about the transformative shift in massage therapy education, particularly focusing on the transition from traditional in-person classes to the realm of online learning.

The discussion delves into contrasting viewpoints on education's purpose within the massage therapy community. Whitney laments the prevailing focus on technique-oriented courses, advocating for broader clinical reasoning skills.

Ruth Werner shares her passion for teaching ethics in massage therapy, emphasizing the power of role-playing and peer discussions in cultivating a supportive learning environment.

Rebecca Sturgeon champions the emotional and social dimensions of in-person learning, highlighting its unique ability to foster camaraderie and resilience among practitioners.

As the episode draws to a close, Corey invites reflections from the guests on their favorite topics to teach and learn.

Join Corey Rivera and their esteemed guests on "The Rub," where each episode invites you to uncover the secrets, challenges, and triumphs of the massage therapy profession.

Links:
Healwell's Oncology Classes
What is the Transformative Learning Theory?
An Update on Transformational Learning

Ruth Werner

Healwell Homecoming; Sept 20-21

In true Healwell fashion, we’re inviting you to join us as we redefine the status quo, lead with kindness, and have fun doing it. Come as you are and come ready to collaborate, celebrate, and learn! Connect or reconnect with people you’ve met over the years through Healwell!

Come for the classes and stay for the party!

Support the Show.

Healwell Homecoming is September 20-21st in Arlington, VA. Come for the classes and stay for the party!

Send us an email: podcast@healwell.org

Check out our interview-style podcast: Interdisciplinary

You can support Healwell and the cool things we make by donating here!
Other ways join in:

Thank you to ABMP for sponsoring us!
Thanks to JaneApp for sponsoring us!

Healwell is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based out of the Washington DC area. Check us out at www.healwell.org



...

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Welcome to "The Rub," a captivating podcast delving into the world of massage therapy. Join your host, Corey Rivera, as they explore the intricacies of continuing education in massage therapy with guests Ruth Werner, Whitney Lowe, and Rebecca Sturgeon.

In this enlightening episode, Corey engages in insightful conversations with industry experts about the transformative shift in massage therapy education, particularly focusing on the transition from traditional in-person classes to the realm of online learning.

The discussion delves into contrasting viewpoints on education's purpose within the massage therapy community. Whitney laments the prevailing focus on technique-oriented courses, advocating for broader clinical reasoning skills.

Ruth Werner shares her passion for teaching ethics in massage therapy, emphasizing the power of role-playing and peer discussions in cultivating a supportive learning environment.

Rebecca Sturgeon champions the emotional and social dimensions of in-person learning, highlighting its unique ability to foster camaraderie and resilience among practitioners.

As the episode draws to a close, Corey invites reflections from the guests on their favorite topics to teach and learn.

Join Corey Rivera and their esteemed guests on "The Rub," where each episode invites you to uncover the secrets, challenges, and triumphs of the massage therapy profession.

Links:
Healwell's Oncology Classes
What is the Transformative Learning Theory?
An Update on Transformational Learning

Ruth Werner

Healwell Homecoming; Sept 20-21

In true Healwell fashion, we’re inviting you to join us as we redefine the status quo, lead with kindness, and have fun doing it. Come as you are and come ready to collaborate, celebrate, and learn! Connect or reconnect with people you’ve met over the years through Healwell!

Come for the classes and stay for the party!

Support the Show.

Healwell Homecoming is September 20-21st in Arlington, VA. Come for the classes and stay for the party!

Send us an email: podcast@healwell.org

Check out our interview-style podcast: Interdisciplinary

You can support Healwell and the cool things we make by donating here!
Other ways join in:

Thank you to ABMP for sponsoring us!
Thanks to JaneApp for sponsoring us!

Healwell is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based out of the Washington DC area. Check us out at www.healwell.org



...

Corey Rivera:

Welcome to the Rub, a podcast about massage therapy. I'm your host, Corey Rivera, licensed massage therapist and information magpie. Today we're going to talk about continuing education and massage therapy with Ruth Werner, whitney Lowe and HealWell's own Rebecca Sturgeon. Werner, whitney Lowe and HealWell's own Rebecca Sturgeon. Ruth Werner is the author of A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology, currently in its seventh edition. Ruth has a love of octopuses and I can see why she's fascinated by them. Ruth has the same kind of curiosity, turning ideas over and consciously examining them from all sides. She gets to exercise her need for new information in her ABMP podcast. I have a Client who, where she answers questions from massage therapists about health concerns they run into with their clients. Ruth has been teaching massage therapy education for almost 40 years. It used to be in person, but now it's almost completely online. I asked Ruth how online education felt different from in person.

Ruth Werner:

What's great about it is I feel like I can do a good job of offering material that is accessible. I can make the case that it's important and worth spending some time on, and people can do it in a setting and at a time that's convenient for them. I like that most of the organizations that I provide webinars for make recordings of those webinars available, for I typically ask them to make it available for about a month and then pull it down, but that means people can go back and catch up and re-listen if they want to. I have no idea, you know, if they even do that, but there are ways I have learned to take advantage of the medium, for instance, without being able to do live Q&A. I certainly do Q&A, you know it comes in through the chat and I answer questions at an appropriate moment, but it doesn't leave space for conversations. But the payoff for that is I can cover probably 20% more content in a CE class that's offered as a webinar as compared to one that is offered live and it's you know, it's sixes.

Ruth Werner:

There are advantages both ways and that's why I have mixed feelings, because when I get to do a live in-person, face-to-face kind of meeting, the possibility for exploration of concepts that are really important to people who are there in the room, where I can go down appropriate tangents that make the material come alive for the people who are there, because typically people come and see a class on fibromyalgia or a class on mental and mood disorders or whatever, because they have specific needs in mind, and doing it live allows me to pursue that in ways that are to me feel really, really satisfying. I learn much more doing a live class than I do, you know, doing a webinar, and I think that my attendees, that the people who decide to come to my classes, get a different kind of experience. Live versus distance learning, it's just, it's two really different media and there are advantages to both. I like them both, but they are not equivalent.

Corey Rivera:

In 2019, a proposal allowing online instruction and entry-level education subjects that don't require hands-on skills, like business or pathology, was put forth to the American Massage Therapy Association Assembly of Delegates. The assembly's job was to give the idea a stamp of approval or turn it down. I was there as a delegate and the assembly overwhelmingly turned it down, mostly due to lack of understanding of how online courses work. Whitney Lowe was the author of that proposal. Whitney runs the Academy of Clinical Massage, a continuing education company that expertly blends online and in-person learning. This is unsurprising because Whittney is one of the most deliberately thoughtful people I've ever met. So in September of 2019, the Assembly poo-pooed the idea of online learning, and then 2020 came in like a lion. I asked both Whittney and Ruth about the changes they've seen since.

Whitney Lowe:

All kinds of things I think have been changing, you know. First of all, I mean we can't talk about this really without talking about COVID and its impact on that, because clearly, you know, lots of people had made a career and a profession out of teaching, continuing education courses and being on the road and having live classes and people interacting with them, and then all of a sudden that just came to a screeching halt. So, you know, everybody rushed to get everything online with the emergency remote teaching process and clearly that was kind of a disaster in a lot of ways, but it did also pour gasoline on the fire of people, you know, recognizing what might be possible or might be able to be done with online education as well.

Ruth Werner:

The big thing for me is that, because my continuing education classes are almost entirely lecture-based, people have discovered that I do a good webinar, do a good webinar and the consequences I have been teaching, you know, for AMTA chapters and other organizations probably about the same as I did pre, you know, in the before times, but I'm doing most of it here from my desk and and instead of, you know, going away for a weekend and teaching 16 hours over over two or three days. Now I, you know, teach a three hour class once a month or something like that, and I have mixed feelings about that. But I'm really glad that my material has been pretty well received in the format of distance learning. Certainly, it would be much harder to you know, teach a technique class or an assessment class or something like that without you know, without being there in person.

Corey Rivera:

Now it's 2024 and live classes are back, but educators are having trouble filling these live classes. I think we've all settled into a bit of a rut. I mean, who doesn't love learning in their pajamas? Heck, I work in my pajamas. I have lime green Jurassic Park pants on right now, but in a time when life seems to be coming at us from all sides, there often doesn't feel like there's enough time to make dinner, let alone dedicate a day or two to a live class. However, there are things you can't learn online and, more importantly, experiences you can't have. Here's Whitney again.

Whitney Lowe:

I think you know what works well, what works best. Live is teaching. You know movement skills, psychomotor skills, so that's where you know the massage technique. Things definitely do excel. The classroom also is great for the cohesive interactivity that happens between students, between students and the teacher, and the communication that happens, the immediate questions that come up, the answers, the discussions that pop out of questions that come up to let you think about things, and just the social aspect of learning, of doing this in communication with other people. That's really very effective and some of the things that are most powerful in the classroom, I think.

Corey Rivera:

I also talked to HealWell's Education Director, Rebecca Sturgeon, about the benefits of in-person learning. Rebecca is the squishy heart of HealWell.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

I could try to explain that statement, but I think you'll hear what I mean. I think any chance that you have to take yourself out of your routine for any amount of time and sort of immerse yourself in learning in the way that you can only do in person with other people it allows. I think it does something to your brain and I wish I had research behind this, but maybe Corey will find it for me someday but I think it does something to your brain and your brain's preparedness for taking in and processing new information.

Corey Rivera:

I found the research, by the way, and it does indeed change you. But I'll let Rebecca finish her thought.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

I think it also makes you a more creative practitioner, because taking yourself out of your out of your environment for a while and learning something new when you go back if you've paid attention, when you go back to your environment, you see it differently and you may be able to see things or do things that didn't seem possible before. I also think the in-person learning, the social aspect of it, is really important, and I say this as an introvert right. I think being in a room with other humans who are learning the same thing and maybe struggling with the same thing that you're struggling with, is really valuable, really involved. I think you learn them better when you have people who are having the same struggle, because it's it's you have someone to regulate your nervous system against, and it's not, rather not just the face on the screen, even if the face on the screen is in real time, like you and I in a room together, versus you and I talking real time over Zoom.

Corey Rivera:

And now a research tidbit. The term Rebecca was looking for is transformative learning. Transformative learning is a term that was originally coined by a sociologist named Jack Mesereau in 1978. It's when an adult student has an experience that literally changes their worldview. The first step in transformative learning is a disorienting dilemma. The student realizes their perspective doesn't quite fit the reality. This can happen suddenly, like during a life crisis, or it can happen gradually. The dilemma causes self-doubt, which allows the student to take in new information and generate new ideas. An important part of transformative learning is self-reflection, and eventually the student builds confidence in their new way of thinking and being. Naturally, there's a ton more to the concept of transformative learning, but that's not really the topic of this episode. If you want to read more about it on your own, there's a few links in the show notes.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

In the meantime, here's a great story about the transformative learning that happens in the live clinic part of HealWell's in-person oncology classes. The live clinic in the oncology class oh, I love the live clinic. So I mean what it is on paper is you get the chance to offer a full massage 60 minutes, six, zero minutes, um to a human who has an experience with a cancer diagnosis and or a cancer treatment. So you do the intake, you do the massage, you do the whole thing like a whole session. Um, what it actually is, um, what it actually is is it's, it's magic, and I I I'm not saying that lightly, because what happens with the, with the clinic session, is that everything that people have learned up to this point, you know, for the past two days or for the past however many hours of online and the past two days, um, it all comes together with stakes. Right, because this is an actual human.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

They're not actors in our clinics and what happens is that people this is a generalization, but people immediately forget that they know how to do things and panic. And then another advantage of the live class they're always like with their co-students, their colleagues, and then you know, the person that they're with calms them down or not, or they bring an instructor over and the instructor calms them down and they get to work and they realize that that right, still know how to be a massage therapist, still know how to plan a session, still know how to do an intake conversation, um, and there's always a point in the live clinic where, uh, it starts in the energy is like really spiky and really, uh, nervous, and you know it's. It's a lot to kind of contain that, but that's part of our job, you know, as instructors, to kind of contain that and hold that. And there's always a point at which, like I imagine it as a cardiograph or cardiogram, that is real spiky and real spiky and real spiky. And then suddenly it's just calm, just calm and it's and you can see people sort of realize I'm doing this and I can do this and I enjoy doing this, um, so it's, it's a beautiful moment where everything comes together really, Cause we can practice in class and we can talk and we can do scenarios and we can do case studies and all of that is valuable.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

But where it actually happens is in the live clinic, where you are in the way that massage therapists are, you're connected to a client with this new information. Therapist, are you're connected to a client with this new information and you realize that the new information doesn't change your ability to connect with the client. So it's actually it's pretty awesome.

Corey Rivera:

Before we move on, I want Rebecca to tell you what her first in-person class after the COVID crisis was like.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

The first in-person class I taught after COVID was an oncology massage workshop in just outside of Chicago and it was a real small group, you know, small enough that we almost didn't run the class, but we're like no, you know what, let's do it. It's the first one and it was hard. I'm not going to say it was easy. It was hard because, in addition to this being the first live class that I'd taught in like three years, this was also a group of people that was that brought a lot into the room. They brought a lot in terms of skill and compassion and just care for each other, but also in terms of what they were dealing with in their lives. Um so it was a lot, but they took such beautiful care of each other. Like for three days I saw them take such every live class I've ever taught Like before then people took care of each other, but not like this. It was amazing.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

Um, so the last day of class, we all walk out of the place together and the person who was sort of taking care of the venue locked the door. We're all standing on the corner kind of saying goodbye and getting ready to walk back to our various places where we were staying, nobody moved. It's November in Chicago, it's cold, nobody would move, nobody would cross the street. Like there's this tight little group of people that didn't want to leave each other because they just had these three days that they'd been missing for, didn't realize that they'd been missing for three years and they're just. It was beautiful, it was really beautiful.

Corey Rivera:

The last thing I want to touch on are a few comments Whitney had about how Massage thinks about continuing education in general. He doesn't use the term biopsychosocial, but I'm happy to say that word as many times as necessary for it to catch on, so I will Biopsychosocial, Remember bio is only one third of the word.

Whitney Lowe:

But, holy cow, is the bio part so much easier to market on social media? Yeah, because I mean it gets marketed a lot as take my class, learn my magical technique and you will either increase your income or heal everybody into treatments, kind of thing. You know, there's a lot of that pervasive still and that really gets under my skin because it's that's not really what it's about at all, nor is that really realistic. But a lot of that still exists and so those attitudes you know are still out there a great deal.

Whitney Lowe:

And when you talk about ROI and recognizing that in terms of value of education. You know, one of the other things that really bothers me a lot about continuing education in our field is it has really been for a long time and continues to be a perception that continuing education means learning a new massage technique, something new and different to do with your hands. That's what a CE course is all about, and people don't understand or recognize the value of. There's a whole bunch of other stuff out there that you really could benefit tremendously from and learn a great deal about to make yourself a much more successful and well-rounded clinician. That doesn't necessarily have to do with learning to do something new with your hands. You know learning a new psychomotor skill with your hands. You know learning a new psychomotor skill.

Corey Rivera:

To wrap up, I asked Ruth, whitney and Rebecca about what they love to teach and what they love to learn. I really enjoy getting people to talk about their favorite things. Both Ruth and Rebecca answered both questions with one answer.

Ruth Werner:

I have an ethics class that I love to teach and I particularly love to teach it live. I have adapted it for webinars, but it's a it comes in a poor second. So it's called. It's called the ethics of client communication talking to people, talking to clients about their health and it is based on active communication skills Sorry, and it's based on active listening skills combined with real life scenarios that people have shared with me over the years.

Ruth Werner:

And what I love about this class is that we may get you know, we may end up with a scenario that is from 20 years ago in Nova Scotia or one that was from six months ago in San Francisco right, but it's so. It's. It's massage therapists sharing their experiences over the globe and over the decades with each other. And one of the things I love about that class is I talk for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half, and the rest of it is small group work where people get together and they gather around tables and they work through these scenarios, and I kind of hate to say the RP word because it turns people off, but it does involve role-playing.

Corey Rivera:

It's not a win-sit exactly. So I think I don't think role-playing is bad or useless. I think that it's really easy for people who are uninterested to like say we role-played and check the box and just move on with life. I think it's it's easy to do badly and I think when it's done well, it's like it's pretty great. But I think when it's done well, it's like it's pretty great. But I think it takes a lot of practice by the person who's facilitating to do it well.

Ruth Werner:

I, I agree, but I and, and so during the role play part of that course. I am literally flying around the room to listen to all of these conversations happening around the tables and and some of the things I like about this is a, people can discharge a lot of fear and anxiety about pathologies. And B, people can use that opportunity to do something in massage therapy we almost never get to do, which is to share their experiences. We, you know, we live I keep talking about how we work in our little sacred pink bubbles, which is lovely and beautiful and as it should be right. Nothing should really be getting through that membrane, but sometimes we need to discharge. It may be something wonderful.

Ruth Werner:

I had a client who had this problem and I tried something new and it was amazing and I want everybody to know. Or sometimes it's really hard. I have a client who had this problem and I could not figure out how to help them and I finally gave up, and that's you know. It's really important for us to be able to share those kinds of conversations respectfully and within appropriate boundaries with each other, and that ethics class provides a space to do that, and I love listening to those stories. It's just wonderful and it fills me with joy about this profession because, by definition, the people who come to a class like that are they just want to get better, they just want to really get better at what they do, and I will work with those people all day long.

Corey Rivera:

Here's Rebecca's favorite thing to learn.

Rebecca Sturgeon:

I actually really love talking to people about how to um, regulate their nervous system as practitioners, and, and how to uh, and, and how to, how to be a better human. You know, to be the kind of human who can stand in the face of people who are in extremists and hold that. I actually I love teaching that, because it's impossible to teach, it's absolutely impossible to teach you, just you.

Corey Rivera:

It's metaphors, it's all metaphors and my last question is what do you like to learn?

Rebecca Sturgeon:

It's like a creative challenge. Same thing, literally the same thing.

Whitney Lowe:

And here's Whitney one more time concepts for people, because it's one of those things that I think people just don't get taught a lot, and I love seeing those light bulbs go off of people recognizing how important it is to go through some of these processes to figure out how they can best help somebody, when they have a better idea of what's really happening with them and you know again, more so than just learning a technique, they're often learning how to be a really effective clinician and work with people in a much more engaging way and really make very significant differences in people's lives.

Corey Rivera:

What's your favorite thing to learn?

Whitney Lowe:

I love seeing that process happen.

Corey Rivera:

Take your time.

Whitney Lowe:

Oh, wow, favorite thing to learn.

Corey Rivera:

I wouldn't do that to you.

Whitney Lowe:

Does this have to be limited to our field? Because, like, wow, favorite thing to learn, I don't know. It probably depends on the day. You know, like, what my mood is. You know there's times when I love learning about our field. I love reading medical journals and diving into an orthopedics problem. There's days when I love learning about music, you know. There's days when I love learning about systems theory and nature, you know, and things like that. You know geology, you know there's all kinds of things that can spark my interest and make me interested in learning. So it depends on my mood. That's probably where I'll live with that.

Corey Rivera:

And that concludes our brief study of in-person education. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave us a five-star review on Apple Podcasts, because apparently anything less is considered a negative. You can also join us in the community at communityhealwellorg for a hot wash of the ABMP school forum that happened on April 5th and 6th. I give a great rundown of the conference and also rail about Silicon Valley attitudes being shoehorned into massage therapy If you want to experience the live clinic

Before vs after COVID
My Pants
Rebecca on in-person learning
Research Tidbit: Transformative Learning
First in-person after COVID
Biopsychosocial
What's your favorite thing to teach/learn?

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