Friday, August 15, 2014



Now that the comment period for the Federation of State Massage Board’s Model Practice Act draft is over we will all have to wait and see what happens next. Those that commented – good for you! Those that did not and knew about it, I have my funky face on.  Sometimes we think that if we agree with something we do not have to provide input. Not so. Feedback is important!  Those that did not comment and did not know—well no excuse. Professional behavior involves being informed. Enough said. 

I am going to use this waiting time to create a list of how I would organize and manage the massage world. I hope it is thought provoking.

In no specific order—just as the thoughts manifest in my brain----

ü  Educators in the massage world would attend the Educational Congress

The Educational Congress intention is to gather a critical mass of educators and facilitate co-location of meeting space for various organizations to gather and collaborate. Organizations are encouraged to hold board meetings, offer content for Congress participants, report to the Congress on the current status of that organization, and receive public comment and feedback. The 2015 Educational Congress meetings will take place over 8 days July 21-28 with the main portion of the conference with exhibition hall will only be July 23, 24, and 25. The event will be held at The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis, MN located on the University of Minnesota Campus.

ü  I want AMTA to stop holding the school summit and put support behind the Educational Congress and the Alliance in general. . ABMP is supporting the Educational Congress at least this year.

ü  Massage Educators would support The Alliance For Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE)

AFMTE was formed in 2009 to work with and strengthen the skills of massage therapy educators. The main focus of AFMTE is to create and implement teaching standards and to support educators in delivering exceptional education.  Our focus is teacher education and continued professional development for therapists and teachers. Currently, there is no mechanism in our field to train, evaluate, and certify teachers at any level.  So the AFMTE has undertaken a long-range project to identify the National Teacher Education Standard Project (NTESP).  The overall goal of this project is to create a culture of teaching excellence and eventually offer an instructor certification upon completion of the course. I WANT THE ALLIANCE AND THE NATIONAL CERTIFICATION BOARD FOR THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE AND BODYWORK TO COLLABORATE ON THE INSTRUCTOR CERTIFICATION PROCESS. THE AFMTE IS INVOLVED WITH THE TRAINING AND NCB DOES THE EXAM.  Check out the following  links. 


ü  The Entry Level Analysis Project-

ELAP. is valid for standardizing the entry level content for massage education.  It is not perfect-but close enough.  It is very comprehensive and I wish referred back to competencies but COMTA (The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation) has good competencies that could be matched to the ELAP content.  We have the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge, MTBOK- ELAP – and COMTA competencies.  They primarily agree so on with it. All curriculums for massage education should contain the elements identified by these documents. Period. If you are an educator it is your responsibility to study the content in these documents. There are no excuses.

ü  I want massage education to be taught in small highly focused massage schools with owners and teachers who are personally and professional vested in quality education. 

My definition of small is 40 students or less per year in classes of 6-14 students.  And I want these dedicated massage educators to fill available spaces and make a reasonable profit.  I want the tuition to be able to be paid out of pocket which means between $7000 and $ 8,000 for a 625 hour program (about $12 a class hour). I want these school to teach the ELAP content but I want them to differentiate themselves as unique and worthy of student attendance by their innovation and dedication to excellence in education and service to the student.  I want teachers in these schools to be highly qualified and when available to be certified to teach massage therapy.  I want these teachers to be fairly paid for their time at $20-$25 per hour.


The program approval process can be modeled after the current programmatic approval with some modifications.  Here are my suggestions:

Massage Program Approval

The program must be clearly identified as a professional massage therapy. The program must provide an organized plan of study of at least 600 clock hours. ELAP FOLLOWED.

The program must offer a certificate, diploma massage therapy to a body of students enrolled for the purpose of receiving such a credential.

Then using the document link I identified the current standards that are applicable.  Interested readers can look of the specifics.  THE FOCUS IN ON EDUCATION- not administration, finance or management. Standards 1-4  5.4   7.1 7.2   In my opinion all of the other standards are monitored by the State and COMTA can certainly report a school to the state department of education if they identify violations and concerns.

Fees for the approval need to be fair and affordable.  COMTA really does a good job at this.  Program approval can be for a set period— with annual reporting of any changes.  Curriculums need to be updated frequently so I would support a 3 year comprehensive review without onsite visit and an onsite visit with renewal every 7 years.

COMTA can continue to offer the current programmatic and institutional accreditation for those programs that are part of a larger institution such as community colleges and for those schools wanting financial aid.

ü  I support and encourage Board Certification from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Let go of the past and support NCB in the now and in the future.  No one has to be Board Certified but professional behavior should support a desire to verify advanced learning and experience. It is not perfect but is a solid point of differentiation between entry level and experience.

!!!And Board Certification as opened a pathway for academic degrees in massage therapy. I especially support Sienna Heights University for their forward thinking and commitment to the massage profession.  There is a minor available in health care administration for those who are business focused and a minor in psychology for those with teaching as a goal. By the way the university also has an associate’s degree. 

ü  We need to come to grips with the EVIDENCE BASED AND EVIDENCE INFORMED practice issue in massage therapy. 

It is dividing the massage community. It really is quite simple: Most of what we do as massage therapist is hypothesis - not fact.  LEARN TO THINK for goodness sake. Critical thinking skills are essential.  There is little high quality research data about massage. However, there are a number of logical extrapolations that can be made to justify the benefits of massage.  The massage world cannot claim to be evidence based.  Ongoing research is very important. There will always be levels of experience that cannot be logically explained. That is OK.  But please, let’s just stop making claims that are not justifiable based on known physiological functions. 

ü  I support the Massage Therapy Foundation and want all to support them as well.    


ü  I want the massage world to embrace massage therapy as complete in and of itself and stop diluting it with adjunct methods that are not massage.  


ü  I REALLY want the Coalition of Massage Leadership Organizations to fund an independent ergonomics and bio mechanical analysis of massage therapy practice so we stop hurting ourselves.


ü  I want massage therapy to embrace the value of being an occupation based on service, ethical behavior, and valid education in the vocational sector with pathways to academic degrees for those who desire to achieve them.

ü  I want massage therapists classified in the occupational category with multiple career pathways.  We can be professionals in a wellness, spa, medical, sport, and rehabilitative realm. 
ü  I want continuing education providers to stop making up new names for the same stuff and to only teach material which with they are experience and only if they know how to teach.


ü  I want massage therapy to be less gimmicky.  I really get tired of and embarrassed about all the stuff out there that is the newest greatest thing.


ü  I want massage therapist to do massage and not infringe on other professionals scope of practice.  We are not nutritionists, athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, aroma therapists, chiropractors, psychologists, spiritual advisors , doctors, or any other of the multitude of methods and professions out there.  WE PROVIDE THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE.  If you combine methodology then disclose in marketing materials. When I want a massage I want a really good massage.



ü  I want massage therapists to make a sustainable living

ü  I want people to be able to afford massage without reliance on health insurance.

These go together. As an occupation and based on educational requirements, a yearly income of  $30,000 -$35,000 (full time- 40 hours per week- income taxes yet to be paid)  is reasonable regardless of self-employed or employee.   This is approximately $15 per hour.  I think it is OK in the first year after graduation for the hourly average to be $12 and at 5 years full time experience to be $17 per hour and at 10 years of full time experience to be $20 per hour.  If gratuities are factored into the wage then $ 12 per hour may be fair.  Notice this is per hour and not per massage.  It is based off of an 8 hour day 5 days a week and providing 5 massage session in the 8 hours. The massage fee for the client would need to be between $40 and $50 per 50 min session.  If employed the employee can cover overhead and make a reasonable profit.  If self-employed these suggestions cover overhead and management hours.

These are some of the things I would do if I could-
Together we can.