Monday, June 24, 2013

ELAP-Some of my observations for you to consider.



First, before I write anything else it is important to state that I am supportive of the ELAP project.   I want it to succeed.

Now here are some of my observations and concerns:

The initial survey attached to the Federation of State Massage Boards job task analysis survey was flawed.  The only option for general massage was the term Swedish Massage and for a therapeutic intervention was deep tissue massage.  The problem is:

Swedish Massage as an approach is too limiting and has current and historical confusion about what it means.  I searched state licenses and seldom is the term Swedish Massage used. Massage Therapy and Therapeutic massage are much more common.  In the state licensing descriptions of massage application terms such as gliding, kneading, pressing, shaking and so forth are use almost exclusively instead of effleurage, petrissage and so forth. If effleurage means “gliding” then use gliding and if petrissage means “ to knead” then  use the term knead.   I strongly believe that is time to use terminology that explains what is done and qualified by how it is done if for no other reason than to help researchers be able to standardize protocols.  The project is attempting to describe entry level practice so the simpler the better

Alteration of the ELAP is simply a term replacing process while leaving the intent of the document in place. Easy to do and clinging to the historical terminology is not worth the potential  problems that can arise and how this language could undermine the whole project.  Please –the language should be as generic as possible.

As problematic is the inclusion of deep tissue massage.   There is little agreement about what deep tissue massage is and that is a huge issue for entry level education.  I strongly feel that this section should be eliminated and the general massage platform include the ability to adapt pressure to address the various tissue layers of the body.

The method of compression was totally left out and yet it is the approach that is used in many situations especially over clothing and when lubricant is limited or not used.  This is a flaw in supporting methods like seated massage or in situation where static pressure is used. 

I propose that entry level should be based more on safe practice of general nonspecific massage with outcomes of wellness, relaxation, stress management, and able to address minor manifestations of pain and mobility in the generally health client.

Content related to professional communication is important and I believed covered well in the document.   There are aspects of specific methods for communication skill based on organized systems integrated into the document and I think this should be more generic.  For example- I am skilled in the used the Myers Briggs system but would never suggest that this approach be incorporated into the ELAP document.

I also am concerned over content in the ELAP document that relates to psycho/emotional issues.   Topics such as breath work, emotional release, psycho/social l behavior and energy balance are too controversial and if and when valid are way outside the realm of entry level. These topics should be eliminated.  

I have some concern over the use of the taxonomy created by the work group.   I think it would have been better to use a method to create the document that is grounded in current education and implementation into standard academia may be an issue. This being said, I believe what the work group did develop is workable.  I do think that the curriculum map based on the taxonomy is too tight and could be perceived as dictatorial.  I personally understand the domains and how a bit of content is addressed in each domain, but as I reviewed the document it felt like the curriculum map was telling me HOW to teach instead to indicating WHAT to teach.  WHAT AND HOW ARE VERY DIFFERENT.  For example many times it is stated to use mock forms to analysis something or write a sample massage plan or role pay and critique peer. These are all fine educational methods but they are HOW to teach something instead of WHAT to teach.  I suggest that the curriculum map stick with WHAT to cover and if appropriate list methods that are used to teach this type of content separately. Personally I think the HOW should be more directly related to teacher training.

Also removing the HOW TO TEACH SOMETHING and concentrating on WHAT TO TEACH would significantly simplify the document which is overwhelming.   I think the work group attempted to do too much and suggest that the document be simplified.
This is enough for now. More to come.   What do you think? 

Comment on ELAP:


  1. Agree whole heartedly with you. Simple English terms apply better than sticking to French from one modality. Simplify for clarity. We often seem to forget this is entry level we are discussing. An inexperienced starting out graduate who wants a job.

  2. Great observation. Make sure to make comments on the ELAP Document

  3. Well said. I believe it is important to focus on the content, not the HOW. Many people learn in different ways and by putting in writing the how it is to be taught, may actually lead to many inefficient courses.

  4. Jeff I agree obviously. However the workgroup needs to hear this directly so make sure you comment on the document.

  5. I think your willingness to shed the old "Swedish" massage terms in favor of more descriptive ones has great validity, and I will comment on the ELAP to that end. Thank you for pointing it out, because I don't think I would have given it much thought if you had not (I'm so used to all the terms, both old and new).

    However, I don't see a problem with addressing emotional release, since it can easily happen on the table of an entry-level therapist, and in fact I applaud that subject being on the document. I also happen to believe that energy balance is at the root of all homeostasis and of healing, but as I see it as an integral part of all living beings and any kind of hands-on-work. But if you are simply regarding it as a type of 'manipulation technique,' I can see how you might not want "energy balance" to be included in the ELAP. But basically, since psycho/social issues exist and are often expressed or felt during a session, I do see this as entry-level information. Just because we decide not to address it educationally does not mean it won't be a part of an entry-level practitioner's experience, and the more knowledge the new therapist has the better equipped they are to handle a situation professionally.

    Just my thoughts about your thoughts. Thanks for the post!
    Sandy Grover Mason

  6. Sandy, discussion on these topics is important. I am happy that you are taking the time to comment both here and on the ELAP document. I am putting my observations out there to stimulate conversation. If I were writing the ELAP I would have placed the emotional quality of a client's responses in a section addressing how to adapt to client's responses. The concept of emotional release is controversial as is the topic of energy other that to maintain a compassionate safe environment at entry level I do not think extensive focus is appropriate

  7. Hi, Sandy--I think you are totally on point with this:

    "other that to maintain a compassionate safe environment at entry level I do not think extensive focus is appropriate"

    An average of 500 hours of training at a vo-tech level simply doesn't give us enough to be practicing safely (for the client) in these deep waters.

    That's not a personal insult to MTs; it's simply a fact of the system.

    Your observation is correct, as is your criticism of the ELAP's assigning this to entry-level.

    I respect you a lot, and I want to support you in getting this important feedback where they will see it, but dear Buddha, did they make that process unnecessarily difficult.

    But you are right, and it is crucially important to our future, so as painful as it's going to be, I will see it through.

    (--Ravensara Travillian, in case the profile process doesn't make that clear)