Thursday, April 4, 2013

Beyond Frustration

I am sad. The current state of the massage therapy organizations and the advancement of the profession is bogged down in BS—belief systems. At my massage therapy school, Health Enrichment Center, big changes are occurring. The school is 28 years old and long time staff has retired. New staff is on board.  My daughter Laura, a military veteran, trained educator and prior public school teacher (science) has come on board and is clearing out, cleaning up and reorganizing the administration and teaching process at the school.  Wow- fresh perspective and she is asking me hundreds of questions.

 She is doing excellent and having her on board is not why I am sad. Today she was asking questions about a bunch of old forms in a file. This followed with questions about why we had to do things the way we were.  So I was attempting to answer the questions and found myself saying things like,” We have to do that for documentation for continuing education but National Certification Board is changing requirement and I don’t know what we will end up having to do.”  Or I was saying, “I don’t know why we have to keep tract of that but we do.”  “I don’t know when that is going to change but it is changing some day.”  “I don’t know why we have so many organizations doing the same things-yes it is confusing.” “I don’t know what they do with that information but they want it.” Finally she said to me,” Well what do you know?”

This is why I am sad. I wonder if I will ever have answers about entry level massage training competencies, one licensing exam, continuing education quality and requirements with validating board certification, teacher skills with documentation, unified professional organizations and on and on. I want my school to provide the highest quality skills, professionalism and compassion to the students and I believe we do that. As a textbook author I have researched in depth about massage, the relevant sciences, ethic and profession. As an educator I have continued my own education. As a massage therapist I have maintained a client based. With all this commitment and experience it still feels as if I am floating around waiting for the massage professional leaders to provide a unified and concrete platform for education and professional development. The Federation of State Massage Boards still has not published the Job Task Analysis results from last years survey. ELAP content has not be released and remain behind closed doors in spite of repeated requests for transparency. There are now 3 organizations that are supposed to support education and none of them communicate with the other.  This makes me sad.  

Then I had a call informing me that another massage school had closed because the owner just could not compete and could not recruit enough students to pay the bills. I struggle as well as do many other single program massage only massage school owners.   The three organizations that have support for schools have not seem to be able to help any of us attempting to provide quality education. This is so very sad.

As I was sorting through files that Laura had put on my desk I was reminded about how much I pay in membership dues to multiple organizations that duplicate effort instead of working together. Let alone the cost of attending all the meetings. It makes me sad when I miss a meeting but if I went to every meeting like I did 3 years ago is would cost me $10,000 and over a month of time neither of which I have to spare. 

As we have been reorganizing the school it certainly has been messy with lots of loose ends. Michigan is implementing it’s state licensing for massage and many are confused about a relatively simple process adding another layer of clutter.  We are throwing out a lot of stuff and streamlining. It is quite a journey as I go through files that date back to 1985. I am excited about the future here at the school. However, I am not encouraged about the progress of the massage profession. I am sad.  It was maybe better when I was frustrated or even mad.  There is energy available to fuel motivation with those two emotions.  But sad------


  1. It feels like the chaos of growth. Like the dark before the dawn. It feels like evolution but a painful, messy, awkward one. Do all professions go through a phase where there's too much swirling around in place before we got moving forward again? I hope so because it means maybe we will too.

  2. I love your heart, very enuine. I concur, yet I still shrug my shoulders in ignorance. in other words...AMEN

  3. I'm sad along with you, Sandy. I haven't been at this nearly as long as you have, only about 15 years, and I'd have to say this is the biggest mess I have ever seen. I almost miss the days when I was just a student and clueless about the whole thing...I never dreamed back then that I would be reporting on the politics of massage and sometimes I wonder why I bother, and I can't possibly keep up with all the shenanigans that are going on---or dead in the water. As of right now, it's like we don't know where we stand or where we're going to go or how we're going to get there.

  4. I am sad that this profession, and the schools are going through this. Not knowing which direction to take as an educator, as a therapist, as a CE provider, makes it harder to choose which path to take. I know the students (at my school) are graduating and are getting jobs, employers are thrilled with the quality of the graduates, and the profession is in high demand. But how can we maintain high quality education if the organizations do not know what path they are on?

  5. Hi Sandy, i share in your sentiment and just finished reading about the new requirements for CE teachers, education orgs and Trade show educators by one of our industry governing bodies, i can only think this is a result of an unethical disagreement between two certifying orgs. I have heard and received a lot of questions and complaints from therapist who are confused and not getting answers to re-cert requirements none of which I feel competent enough to give a good answer to. I hope you won't mind if I post the link to this page on our RI-AMTA facebook page for massage therapists so others can share in this demise

    Roy Kenji Omori
    RIAMTA facebook moderator

  6. Kenj I am happy for you to post and share the blog.

  7. Sandy I Feel for you. As a former school owner, I remember feeling the same way you do now. I closed my school about 6 years ago because the 'fees', etc., were just going beyond what I could manage. As I continued to get involved with continuing education it isn't any easier, actually getting worse in many ways.

    The thing I am saddest about is mostly what is happening to our profession in general with basic education. I know the private schools, like you tend to provide a better quality. However, these corporate schools filling seats with uninterested people who really don't have a calling is the sad part.

    I just saw a post yesterday from another school owner struggling with students who just don't give a damn. This is not uncommon. Then others recently out of school complain they aren't making the "deserved' $60/hr.

    What I am sad about is what happened to this HEALING PROFESSION?
    I think we have some good things happening although some times it is hard to see the forest eh? ;)

    I wish our organizations would communicate better so they can work together. It seems we get notifications of new regulations w/o it being thought through well and considered by all.

    Best of luck cleaning through files ~ may you find the joy in our profession and the reason you are a teacher! :)

  8. Thanks for the posts all. I will not give up and will continue to put forth my best efforts to support massage therapy. I will write textbooks and teach and volunteer just like I have for so many years. It is important what we do for others.

  9. I don't know what to do and so I simply do my best to keep in the loop while my focus and effort remains with the students. I'm embarrassed for the industry. When I teach Board Preparations at my school, the answers I have are disheartening and confusing. Things were much easier when there was less regulation. We could focus on the art and integrity of this beautiful work...not the bureaucracy. There must be a better way.

  10. I simply do my best to stay in the loop while my focus and effort remains with the students. When I teach Board Preparations at my school, the answers I have are disheartening and confusing for the students. Things were much easier when there was less regulation. We could focus on the art and integrity of this beautiful work...not the bureaucracy. There must be a better way.

  11. Laura Allen linked to this blog in her most recent blog post. We and to quote her "It seems ridiculous to focus on whatever complaints I have about the way things are going in the massage world when people are dead and wounded and grieving for their loved ones so I’m going to save the rest of my rants for another day." This post was the day after the Boston Marathon. This is also the time when my oldest son Greg was killed by compromised driver in 2007. I also have a dear friend undergoing surgery for a cancer reoccurance today. Just like Laura, I will get back on the soap box but right now I am still sad.