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March 2010

Learning Styles for the Massage Student

by Joe McCue

Learning Styles for the Massage Student, futureLMT.comThere are several ways to learn, and each person learns differently. Do you know your learning mode and style?

There are three major learning modes: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. However, more are being defined, along with multiple styles of learning within each mode. In fact, there are more than 80 different models of how we learn and integrate new material, from Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to neurolinguistic programming to the theory of multiple intelligences.

Visual learners
Visual learners need illustrations or diagrams to understand the concepts being presented. They need to see what’s going on. They’ll also use language that reflects their preferred mode, such as “How does this look to you?” “I see what you mean” and “I can picture it in my head.”

A subtype of the visual mode is the print learner. These learners are specific in how they access visual information, in that they need to see it in print form by reading it.

Auditory learners
Auditory learners pick up information by hearing it. They tend to gravitate toward audio books, recordings and lectures. You can spot auditory learners by how they speak, because they make such statements as, “That rings a bell” and “I hear you.”

Two subtypes of auditory learning are verbal and interactive learning. A verbal learner talks out the materials just presented to integrate the material learned, whereas an interactive learner needs to exchange ideas and concepts through discussion in a group setting.

Kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic learners need to involve the body somehow in order to engage the learning process. This could be in the form of performing an activity, such as learning to ride a bike, or simply engaging physical movement to facilitate other learning, as in reading a book while walking on a treadmill. The language kinesthetic learners use may '

include: “How does this grab you?” “How do you feel about it?” and “I can handle it.”

A subtype of kinesthetic learning is tactile learning, which involves specifically engaging the sense of touch. As a massage therapist, it is important to develop this learning mode.

Learning styles
So those are the major modes of learning, but there are also different learning styles. A learning style is the preferred way to learn within any given learning mode, and they can vary from person to person. Some learning styles include observing, reflecting, looking at the big picture, noting the details, taking notes, etc.

Everyone has multiple learning modes and styles, and typically only one or two are dominant. The combination of your specific learning modes and styles defines how you best learn anything new.

Once you realize the best way to learn, you can develop strategies and tactics to give you the best advantage possible and make your learning process both efficient and effective. For example, if you’re a visual note taker, you can plan to write your notes in such a way that you leave plenty of room for drawings and diagrams. If, on the other hand, you are a reflective verbal learner, you can digitally record your classes and copy them to a compact disc and listen to them repeatedly.

So regardless of what you’re trying to learn, there is a specific way you are going to learn it. If you know what that way is, you’ll stand a much better chance of not only being successful, but of retaining the information much longer.

Joe McCue, futureLMT.comJoe McCue has been a practicing massage therapist and small-business owner for eight years and currently holds certifications in 12 different modalities, from reiki to deep tissue. In addition, McCue is a trained life and business coach. For more information, visit www.anothergloriousday.com/CoachingForBodyworkers.

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