Table Talk #11 – Training the Brain to Learn New Skills

Aran Bright CPE Continuing Professional Education, Research 0 Comments

How many times do you Google for new information, on a weekly basis?

Are you curious to find out about unusual conditions to help understand your clients, or to continuously improve your knowledge?

As a massage therapist, Google can be a quick gateway to finding out facts or information.  But is that the extent of how much we want to explore and learn? Or is there a barrier or hesitancy that makes us think twice about learning new skills?

It is indeed possible to “teach an old dog new tricks.” Your brain has the capacity for neuron regeneration (in case you thought it was not possible). You just have one common hurdle…. classroom phobia! Don’t worry, it means, you are human.

Being overwhelmed with learning (especially after being out of a training environment for some time) is an actual thing that occurs to many adults. The adult brain is cluttered with a lot of preconceived ideas rolling around; unlike the child’s brain which is comparable to that of a sponge, no anxiety or blockages, just pure curiosity and wonderment. For adults, it can take a lot more energy to process both the old and new information in the brain, thus the struggle. This can lead to frustration and often a temptation to give up.

This is due to a thing called “cognitive bias” which means our brains want to cling on to our old knowledge. I have definitely experienced this in a clinical sense. For example, throughout my career I described Hip Rotation as either “internal” or “external.”  Then I found the terms “medial” and “lateral” hip rotation.  Even though these mean exactly the same thing, I was already comfortable with my original thought process and almost irrationally wanted to reject another concept. Very normal process that many of us experience.

How can massage therapists embrace the concept of training your brain?

Massage is a career that many choose for the long-haul. It is common to see therapists that have been in the business for decades, which is brilliant. However, there is a concerning trend and a resistance to change, which can be described as “change blindness.” In some cases, therapists are stuck in their comfort zone repeating the same habits they have been practicing for many years, without moving with the times and, in particular, understanding the science. But why do you have to challenge your beliefs, or change anything? The answer is, ultimately for the benefit of your clients and achieving the best treatment outcomes as a practitioner. The first step is awareness and being open to change.

There are many benefits to challenging your brain and learning new skills. The purpose of this blog is to normalise this fact – it is difficult. But where there’s a will, there is a way!  So go on, put your thinking cap on and be open to learning a new skill.

Discover our online training courses designed specifically with your needs in mind.

This blog was inspired by an ABC podcast – All in the Mind. “Why being a beginner is good for you.”

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