Cognitive and Kinesthetic - by admin@mcb on April 19 2016

Cognitive and Kinesthetic

Cognitive and kinesthetic courses explained

Cognitive and kinesthetic are two different classifications of massage therapy continuing education courses.


Cognition is defined as “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.” Cognitive courses are idea based. They are courses which teach concepts related to massage therapy, but do not teach actual massage therapy techniques. Courses such as ethics, research, and pathology are classified as cognitive.


Kinesthetic is defined as “the sense that detects bodily position, weight, or movement of the muscles, tendons, and joints; the sensation of moving in space.” Kinesthetic courses are those that teach specific hands-on techniques that a massage therapist will perform on clients. Courses such as pregnancy massage, deep tissue massage, and reflexology are classified as kinesthetic.

Topic vs. Format

The terms cognitive and kinesthetic refer to the subject matter of the course, not the delivery format. Both cognitive and kinesthetic courses can be taught in any format, whether by live seminar or home-study based learning.

Some state boards use the term “hands on”. This term can be a bit ambiguous, as it can potentially refer to two different things. It might be defining a course topic that is kinesthetic, but it might also be defining a course delivery format. To avoid confusion when using this term, determine if it is in reference to the topic or the format.

A more accurate term to refer to an in-person format is “live seminar”, in the physical presence of the instructor. Online courses, even if done with a real-time phone or web camera connection, are not considered live because you are not physically in the presence of the instructor. Several states, such as Florida and North Carolina, have a required minimum of live hours that are needed for CEs, with the remaining balance to be either live or online.

Some states limit how many kinesthetic courses can be completed in an online or home study setting. Texas is one such state. Massage therapists can take their entire required CEs online, but only if they are cognitive courses. Any kinesthetic courses must be done via live classroom seminar if you wish to use them as CE hours to renew your Texas massage license.

If you live in a state that limits online courses for CEs, massage therapists in those states can still take kinesthetic courses online, and they can legally practice what they learn in those courses if they are legally allowed to practice massage therapy in general. The only thing they cannot do is to use those hours to apply to their required CEs for relicensing.

As always, you can refer to your individual state laws on our State Guidelines page, especially since some of the above information may change after this article is posted.

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Massage Therapy Continuing Education Laws - by admin@mcb on April 05 2016

Massage Therapy Continuing Education Laws

Massage Therapy Continuing Education Laws

Massage therapy continuing education laws (sometimes abbreviated as CE laws) vary from state to state. As such, they are subject to change based upon laws enacted by each various state. For massage therapists who wish to maintain licenses in more than one state, or who are moving from one state to another, keeping up with the current laws in each state is a necessity.

Massage therapists have several different resources available to them to determine CE laws in any state.

Massage Therapy CE Laws – Organizations

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) has an interactive chart of the United States, in which you can click on each state to easily see their massage CE laws. When you click on any state, an information screen will open to the right. There, you will see pertinent information such as the name of the state board, the number of required CEs, any limitations to those CEs (such as topics not accepted or course formats limited or not accepted), and link to the state board website. The link to their chart is found here.

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) has links to regulated states found here.

Massage Therapy CE Laws – Associations

Similar resources are also offered by the two major massage associations.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has a chart you can access here.

Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) has a chart you can access here.

The ABMP page also includes a link to a PDF file you can download and print for easier reference, although with laws subject to change, be sure to confirm it is still valid if you plan to rely on it at some time in the future.

Institute of Somatic Therapy Massage Therapy CE Guidelines

The Institute of Somatic Therapy also has state massage therapy guidelines posted on our website.  Please note that we provide the information as a courtesy, but do not guarantee its accuracy because laws are continually subject to change, and state boards do not notify CE providers of changes. The best course of action is to always contact your licensing agency directly. Your state board will hold you ultimately responsible for knowing the laws that apply to you.

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