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Is this you? You've settled into your first massage job or you're working to grow your private practice. You have enough clients, but you're interested in attracting more and in challenging yourself to meet the needs of distinct client populations. Part of you misses the camaraderie and lively exchange of the massage classroom, and when you get right down to it, you're feeling just a little bored. If any of this sounds familiar, it might be time to specialize. WHAT IS SPECIALIZATION? In general, the term specialization refers to the process of becoming specialized through a particular pursuit, occupation, or product. For our discussion, specialization means to focus your efforts in one area to develop expertise: meeting the needs of a unique client group or focusing on a set of techniques or modalities to gain a greater degree of treatment proficiency. SPECIALIZE BY CLIENT TYPE When you specialize by client type, you are drawn to focus your career on the particular needs and wants of a specific population and become highly knowledgeable about their health concerns and wellness goals. For example, you might become a specialist in massage for older adults and work in private practice. You might also work with the terminally ill at a hospice or a hospital. Massage for robust older adults supports healthy aging and may provide relief from some symptoms of age-related health problems. Massage in a hospice setting will require you to carefully research the side effects of medications and how massage and different medications might interact; you would need specialized understanding of conditions like orthostatic hypotension and how to determine session adaptations based on the client's level of health. If you provide massage for end-of-life care, you will want to know the signs and symptoms of approaching death and how to work effectively with a health-care team in a medical setting. A therapist might also specialize in prenatal and postnatal massage to work with pregnant women and infants. Massage can provide relief from the aches and pains of a pregnant body, so long as the therapist understands how to position the client properly and deliver appropriate techniques. Athletes and people focused on fitness recognize that massage increases flexibility, supports the recovery process from events or intense training sessions, and improves performance. Therapists who want to move into this area will need to have a thorough understanding of muscles and their functions. They will also need to understand which muscles are stressed in a particular sport; 32 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k j a n u a r y / f e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education Is it Time to Specialize? Focus Your Efforts in One Area to Develop Expertise By Anne Williams

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