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.
Image: “Words Cloud Related To Education And Relevant” by Sujin Jetkasettakorn, courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net