Friday, February 14, 2014



As I monitor the massage profession’s response to important development I find it interesting that some push back is occurring around the confusion about what a massage school or massage practitioner has to do vs a choice about what individual and school and other stakeholders HAVE to do verses WANT to do for professional development. 

The only thing a massage educational program HAS to do is be incompliance with state laws regulating education

The only thing a massage therapist HAS to do is be licensed in the state or jurisdiction in which you practice. (minus the few state that still do not license)



The ELAP (Entry-Level Analysis Project) finial report in available at  Those responsible might WANT to use these documents to complete a curriculum review and make changes where it is appropriate.  It is time for standardization of entry level curriculum and yes the ELAP content is not perfect but is more than good enough.  Massage therapy schools and educational program have an obligation to prepare graduates for their future (not the past) of massage professional practice. 



The ELAP documents can guide us in the content that we should be teaching.  As massage educators we should WANT to advance our skills both in content as presented in the ELAP document in entry level education and for continuing education we should WANT to make sure the content is as evidence informed as possible and not blatantly invalid and at least logically explainable in terms of current knowledge of anatomy and physiology.  We should WANT to disclose when we are working from our own opinions and strive for student to leave with skills they can use to expand their ability to be a lifelong learner.  We should WANT to expose myths and continuingly update our own knowledge.

This goes for textbook authors in the profession as well and I am one.  My textbooks reflect ELAP content well but during my next revision cycle I will have content to upgrade, minor changes in terminology and always updating research.  I WANT to do this.  And if I am a responsible author I HAVE to do these things.


No one HAS to be Board Certified but during this time of rapid shifts in the massage profession I would hope you would WANT to support professional development with this credential.  I know the NCBTMB has had it’s problems.  I have been involve with these issue with the NCBTMB since it’s inception. The past issues do not mean that the current direction is wrong.  In fact it may actually be the very best thing for NCB and the massage profession.  I do encourage you to become board certified and at the same time demand accountability from the organization. The current board of directors has a big mess to clean up. It will take time.  Please be part of the solution.  Professional development requires a certification process.  We have the organization so let’s work to make it serve the massage community.

The BOARD CERTIFICATION CREDENTIAL provided by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork launched in January 2013. This new credential requires fulfilling additional qualifications, including more education, hands-on experience and a background check. There is an exam that reflects the advanced level of practice. The intention of this process is to provide validation of professional development beyond entry level education and practice.  By increasing educational requirements and including a work experience component Board Certification is a way for a massage professional to validate that they support ongoing learning and professional advancement.

Those who were previously certified with the old national certification process have an opportunity to transition to Board Certification without taking the test.   By December 31, 2016 the transition process to Board Certification for those who were previously nationally certified under the old system will be complete.   From that point on to be board certified massage professionals will need to meet all eligibility requirements and pass the exam.  Those who have not been previously certified under the old NCBTMB system will have to meet all requirements and take the Board Certification exam. Here is a link to the knowledge content expected for Board Certification

New Certification Test Specifications are found on page 21.  For more information see



No one HAS to pursue a college degree but some may WANT to.  Especially educators.

Why would you WANT an academic degree?  I can think of lots of reasons such as additional validation for professional development, addition of skills over and above massage application including business and leadership, and maybe most important to me- teacher development.  I think we can agree that the massage educators need access to advanced training in the form of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. AND IT IS AVAILABLE –WOW--------.

An associate’s degree is typically based on 2 years of college level study (60 credits).  Some community colleges and technical schools offer a diploma level massage training that can be advanced to an associate’s degree by adding general education courses and other massage related courses. This is really good and becomes a launch pad for the next step--- a bachelor’s degree.

In December 2013, a partnership with Sienna Heights University and the NCB was announced for the new NCBTMB Board Certification to be used for college credit.

A Bachelor’s Degree in Massage Therapy is available.  

NCBTMB Board Certificants are awarded 33 college credits toward the 120 credits required to achieve this degree. A 45-credit major in Massage Therapy is established through Board Certification and completing 12 credits of cognate/major-related study at Siena Heights. The 12 credits are designed to assist with the business/human relations aspects of a successful massage career. The entire degree requires 120 credits, 33 of which are awarded with proof of Board Certification. Additional transfer credit up to 90 credits total can apply toward the degree. Students may need only 10 courses (30 credits) to complete their degrees.  Siena Heights University offers upper-division courses in areas such as leadership and management, organizational behavior, marketing, health care management, professional communication, social science, liberal arts, and more. These are areas that have been identifies as the most lacking in current massage education. This is a real monetary value for board certification for those who want to take advantage of the opportunity.  Sienna Heights University is progressive and open to work with the massage community like they have with other occupations and health professional since the 1970s. If you have an associate’s degree in massage therapy for example, that can be another way to establish the massage therapy major.    AND—YOU CAN COMPLETE YOUR DEGREE ON LINE! The Bachelor of Applied Science Degree (BAS) is a career-oriented degree designed for professionals with allied health or technical training.  This degree is a BAS in Massage Therapy.  WOW.

This is a very exciting development for me because I have had a relationship with Sienna Height University for over 22 years for credit transfer from my massage theory school and now massage professional all over the country through the online program can take advantage of this career pathway. 

 For any additional information on Siena Heights University, please visit

So all—I hope that for the future of massage therapy as many an possible will WANT to move forward with career development.

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