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The Politics of Massage

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Filed under Education, Massage, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation, Politics of Massage

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards released the Model Practice Act a few days ago, just after the third anniversary of the announcement they had formed a Task Force of 8 state board members to work on it. I just had the time to read it in its entirety today, and as a former state board member and former delegate to the Federation myself, I appreciate the huge amount of time and effort that went into it.

I didn’t find much that surprised me. Last week when this was first released, I saw some rumblings from educators and school owners about the requirement for massage therapy programs to be 625 hours. As the publication says, it is consistent with the 625-hour recommendation of the recently-released ELAP (Entry-Level Analysis Project) that was a collaborative effort supported by all of the national massage organizations. Since there are currently more than two dozen states that still have 500 hours as their entry-level requirement, that’s going to require some major changes. Many smaller schools would probably go out of business rather than comply with the change.

The document does not state the name of the NCBTMB or any other entity’s exam in the context of eliminating them, but the definition of “examination” is given as a standardized test or examination of entry-level massage and bodywork knowledge, skills, and abilities that is developed and administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. That means the MBLEx, period. About 40 states are currently accepting both the MBLEx and the NCB’s licensing exams. There are also a couple of states that have their own exam–and require much more than 625 hours. I don’t see that those states will want to back up and adopt this. READ MORE…

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Friday, May 9th, 2014

Filed under Education, Ethics, General, Massage, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation

I just came from a wonderful weekend teaching at the MA Chapter of AMTA. What a great group of people. I was there four years ago for their 50th anniversary, and personally know many of the members there. It was fun to see them and meet some new ones.

A few weeks ago I was at the IL Chapter. In between, I attended the annual meeting of my own chapter in NC. At all three of these conferences, I attended the business meeting and heard the treasurer’s report.

This weekend in MA, National President-Elect Jeff Smoot, who was there to speak at the meeting, was put on the hot-seat by a member who questioned National’s move to make Chapter fees voluntary. The member actually asked outgoing Chapter President Mary White, and she deferred the question to Smoot. Smoot replied that good things were happening that would be announced in September, and that it had been a unanimous decision of the Board of Directors. He also stated that the chapter fees had originally been intended to help with legislation, and that now that 45 states are licensing, there was not the need for it that there once was. I am personally begging them to reconsider. Any practice act can come under the gun at any time. Our chapters need lobbyists and attorneys to protect our interests. We need our own local people that are familiar with the laws and known to the legislators in our own states.

AMTA is SUPPOSED TO BE a member-driven organization. I’ve been a member for more than 10 years. I love my state chapter. I have been impressed with every chapter I’ve ever been to. Every one of them is filled with enthusiastic people with a passion for massage and volunteerism.

What really ticks me off is that the members were not consulted on this decision, which was apparently made last year during the BOD meeting at the National Convention in DFW, behind closed doors. I had questioned the ethics of this decision earlier as being conducted in a manner that was less than transparent, and was told that AMTA’s attorneys sanctioned the secrecy because competitors were present in the open meeting. The Chapters were not immediately informed, either. Budgets that had already been prepared for the coming year had to be redone. And yes, it is having an impact, in spite of National’s claim that they are making this up to the chapters in other ways. READ MORE…

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Filed under Education, Massage, Massage Associations

The Wizard of Oz, that is. AMTA announced a few days ago that Dr. Mehmet Oz, the undisputed king of daytime television, will be the keynote speaker for this year’s national convention, coming up in Denver in September.

Personally, I am not a fan of Dr. Oz. He touts all kinds of pseudoscience, to the point where he has admitted that his own father has asked him when he was going to quit messing around and get back to real medicine. He has been widely criticized by colleagues, who will say to the end that he is a brilliant surgeon and inventor, and wonder why he has seemingly gone off the deep end of effusively embracing, and recommending to his audience, all kinds of unproven and disputed treatments.

In just perusing his website a moment ago, I found the following juicy tidbits….first, if you’re constipated, then you need to get your root chakra unblocked. If you will just get a face reading, you’ll be much better informed about all your health problems. Communicating with the angels can help you heal. We also have Dr. Oz’s Homeopathic Starter Kit and amazing Crystal Sonic Therapy. When I typed in “psychics on show” in the search box on his website, 25 pages worth of links come up.

In all fairness to the Great and Mysterious Oz, he’s not a total flake; he has dispensed a lot of good information over the years as well; he credits the colonoscopy he got on his show with saving his life and caused a mad rush on colonoscopies. There’s no doubt he is well-educated and accomplished. He is a professor in the Department of Surgery at Columbia University. He is the Director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He has authored over 400 research papers and numerous books and won numerous awards, including 5 Daytime Emmys. He has also won the Truly Terrible Television Award, given by the Independent Investigations Group, for “for extraordinary contributions to America’s scientific illiteracy and pervasive fear mongering,” and is the only person to win the Pigasus Award two times from the James Randi Educational Foundation for promoting “nonsense” and “quack medical practices.” READ MORE…

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Filed under Education, General, Massage, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation, Politics of Massage

I spent most of my spare time during the past week reading the Final Report and the Entry-Level Education Blueprint of the ELAP. Again, I will offer my appreciation for the collaboration of the Coalition and the team that actually performed the work on this. It was a big project and obviously, people took time away from their own pursuits to participate in it.

Now that I have read the whole thing in its entirety, I have a few observations on it. I quote from the Coalition statement:

We aspire to have this report influence several profession audiences:

• the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, which can use The Core as it builds guidelines for a model practice act;

My comment on that: The press release announcing that the FSMTB was going to create a Model Practice Act first appeared on April 1, 2011. In a letter I received dated Jan.31, 2014, FSMTB Executive Director Debra Persinger stated that the Task Force is currently completing the final revisions before releasing it for public comment, so the ELAP will be a last-minute inclusion, if it does in fact get included. And, since the MBLEx is a 500-hour entry level exam, this would necessitate some major changes on that, as well.

• state licensing boards, which can use The Core in setting education requirements for licensees;

My comment on that: What is the Model Practice Act doing, if not that? It seems very possible that this is a duplication of efforts. While there are of course other things included in a practice act, one of them is spelling out the hours of required education. I don’t know any state board that goes much beyond setting the total number of required hours, and how that should be broken down in a general list of required subject matter. Not to mention changing a practice act requires legislative action.

the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, which can refer to The Core in creating teacher training standards and curricula;

My comment on that: Aha! And therein lies the clincher and the biggest issue I have with it. Since I couldn’t say it any better myself, I am going to share the comment that Rick Rosen left on my FB page: READ MORE…

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Filed under Education, General, Massage, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation, Politics of Massage

The Entry-Level Analysis Project Final Report and the Entry-Level Education Blueprint were released today, and it’s a whopper…266 pages in the Report, and 527 pages in the blueprint. Obviously, I haven’t read that all this morning. I do want to take the time to express my appreciation for the collaboration among the Coalition (ABMP, AFMTE, AMTA, COMTA, FSMTB, MTF, and NCBTMB) and to Anne Williams of ABMP in particular, for spearheading the project. Both documents were co-authored by the ELAP workgroup, which included Pat Archer, Clint Chandler, Rick Garbowski, Tom Lochhaas, Jim O’Hara, Cynthia Ribeiro, and Anne Williams.

 

According to the Report, at the initial meeting of the Coalition in 2011, two pressing issues were identified: the inconsistent quality, depth, and focus of entry-level massage programs, and the lack of licensure portability from state to state.

The big recommendation is that 625 hours of education are needed just to give students the core basics that they need for entry-level competency. According to the report, currently 28 states only require 500 hours; 7 require between 570 and 600, and 10 states require more than 625 hours. In my opinion only, no matter how wonderful the Blueprint, those states that already have higher standards won’t be inclined to dumb it down for the rest. New York and Nebraska, for example, both have 1000-hour requirements….READ MORE

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Filed under Education, General, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation, Politics of Massage

This is hardly the first time I’ve had gripes about the state of continuing education for massage therapists in the US. I’m not happy, and I haven’t been happy for a long time. I’m a CE provider myself, approved by the NCBTMB. That approval is accepted in many places, but there are some states that run their own CE approval processes. Sometimes, the cost and the amount of paperwork just can’t be justified to teach one class that may or may not fill. The CE environment, at least in my state of NC, is also very competitive. It seems there’s a provider on every corner here.

I’ve been distressed with the NCBTMB as an approval body for a long time, due to the total claptrap that they have approved. I also didn’t care much for the MOCC plan proposal from the FSMTB, which would have made all CE voluntary, except those classes that are about public protection, put forth by them on their website. I feel that has the potential to put a lot of good CE providers out of business.

I think it’s time to do away with two prevalent myths that have been used as the rationale for CE regulation: one, that the public is being seriously harmed by massage therapy, and two, that the current CE approval processes are able to provide quality assurance. It’s impossible to guarantee the competence of CE providers or the quality of their courses when it may not be there to begin with. Our field will never advance, and we will not be taken seriously by other health care professions if we continue to operate under these false pretenses….READ MORE

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Filed under Education, Ethics, Massage, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation, Politics of Massage

From Laura Allen: I have skewered the NCBTMB in my blog several times over the years, including very recently. It has been a tradition with me for several years to interview the executives and chairs of the massage organizations as they come on board, so I am interviewing Dr. Leena Guptha. In fairness to her, I would like to state that she had only been the Chair for ten days when I went on my last and most serious rant about the organization, so I certainly do not hold her personally accountable for the things I have complained about. Here is the interview I conducted with her.

1. Dr. Guptha, please tell us about your background, work experience, and education.

Background: Daughter of a Scientist and a Philosopher, Wife of a Physician/Scientist, Mother of two Physicians, Grandmother of a two year old.

Work Experience: (Relating to Holistic Therapies and Lifelong Learning)

  1. Practicing: 23 years of manual therapy across three countries, with my primary interests in basic science, musculoskeletal alignment, ethics, research and business.
  2. Teaching: Science and Hands-On instructor at various Colleges including but not limited to Connecticut Center of Massage Therapy; University of Bridgeport; Chicago School of Massage Therapy; National University of Health Sciences; Pennsylvania Institute of Massage Therapy; Lehigh Valley College; and International College of Osteopathic Medicine.
  3. Administration: Held positions of Director of Education, Dean of Academic Affairs, Campus President in corporate schools.
  4. Research: The Ergonomics of Driving and Back Pain, teaching Research Literacy to graduate students, osteopathic dissertation supervisor.
  5. Volunteerism: NCBTMB, AMTA Chapter, AMTA National Board and the Massage Therapy Foundation.

Education; Massage Therapy (LMT), Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Naturopathic Medicine (ND), Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine (LAc), Complementary Medicine, Hypnotherapy (BCH) and Business (MBA Hons).

2. How did you first become interested in massage therapy?

When I was a child, my father had a hobby of tinkering with cars, (not that I recall any of them actually road worthy, sorry Dad), suddenly one day while under the bonnet (hood) as he lifted the battery and twisted—he suffered an acute low back pain. My three wise uncles advised painkillers, anti-inflammatory medication, and six weeks rest on a wooden door.

This acute phase passed and he was back to work six weeks later. The next time it happened there was no possibility of time off.  I saw him suffer in agonizing pain. I started feeling his back to see what actually hurt and what did not. As a child this lead me to develop a rudimentary sense of palpation and soft tissue.  Then I took my first massage therapy course at age 18 and have studied many modalities since. Interestingly, my father still has not needed the spinal surgery earlier recommended by my uncles and proposed more recently by his physician.

3. What led you to volunteer for service at the NCBTMB?

Through the development of a hospital based program and my own research, I felt strongly that therapists at the hospital should be nationally certified by NCBTMB. I took the exam too, later a newsletter with Cliff Korn on the front page came to our home in Madison, CT and this led me to become a volunteer. READ MORE…

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Filed under Education, Ethics, Massage, Massage Associations, Massage Legislation, Politics of Massage, Social Media

I’ve seen some ups and downs since joining the massage profession about 15 years ago, but never, in all that time, have I been as disgusted and dismayed with one of our organizations as I am today. I feel as if I have a vested interest in all of them, so I have the right to complain—and to call on them for help.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork was the only path to licensing in many regulated states for a lot of years. Their exams are written into the statutes of about 40 states, as is the MBLEx, which has soared in popularity as the exam of choice in the past 7 years. The exam revenue at the NCBTMB has been steadily declining ever since the MBLEx debuted. The “National Certification Exams” as they formerly existed are the same exams being used for the NESL.

It used to be that taking one exam gave you the status of being Nationally Certified and being able to use that to get your license, but that’s no longer the case. There’s no attraction there anymore. The Federation has been in a position for several years to help solve this problem by buying out the NCBTMB’s entry-level exams; they certainly have the money and the infrastructure in place, but they have apparently preferred to stand by and watch the NCBTMB die a slow painful death rather than be in collaboration. Although I have favored the idea of such a deal in the past, at this point in time I am not going to blame the FSMTB for their refusal to play ball.

The majority of regulated states also have it written into their statutes that the continuing education required for maintaining licensure must be from a provider of CE that is approved by the NCBTMB. READ MORE…

Comments (1) Posted by Laura Allen on Monday, October 28th, 2013

Filed under Education, General, Massage, Massage Associations

I arrived in Ft. Worth on Wednesday in time to attend the House of Delegates preliminary meeting, which was quite exciting. I was only an alternate this year so I did not get to participate in several spirited debates, one concerning the ACA, and another concerning delegates who arrive late for the meeting (they don’t get seated–something I am in total agreement with.) I spent the evening at the Lippincott author’s dinner, something I always look forward to. Authors and educators Ralph Stephens, Ruth Werner and her husband Curt, Pat Archer, Celia Bucci, Joe Muscolino, Diana Thompson, LWW Publisher Angus McDonald, Acquisitions Editor Jonathon Joyce, my wonderful editor Linda Francis were all present, and I’m probably forgetting someone! We dined at Reata, which served great Tex-Mex food, and the service was top notch.

Thursday morning, the opening ceremony was great. Doc Hendley was the keynote speaker. He is the founder of Wine to Water, and a fellow North Carolinian. He received a standing ovation and had some people in tears, including me. His life’s work is providing clean water to people all over the world who do without it, and it really makes you realize how much we all take for granted. President Winona Bontrager recognized long-standing members and handed out awards, including giving the President’s Award to Rick Rosen, co-owner of the Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, NC, and recognizing him for 30 years of service. Rick has contributed so much to this profession, I’ve actually written a previous blog about him. Congratulations to him for….READ MORE

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Monday, September 30th, 2013

Filed under Education, General, Massage

Champ and I attended the World Massage Festival this past week, held on the Queen Mary. This grand old boat is permanently docked in Long Beach, CA. On our last day there, we got a glimpse of the captain giving a tour to the grandchildren of the original captain of the ship. The ship itself is a beautiful historical remnant from times gone by, and we really enjoyed our stay.

Once again, the Festival itself was a blast. I look forward to attending every year! We arrived on Saturday and spent the evening at a welcome party…met up with Elaine Stillerman, who is a force of nature, and a grand lady herself. I am going to share the story that Elaine has a 14-year old son who is a special needs child. After being told that he could not be in a young children’s room at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Elaine seized the bull by the horns, and is responsible for getting the museum to establish a Sensory Room for special needs children. You can read about it here. We also visited with Pamela Mucklow, my longtime FB friend from Arkansas by way of Yorkshire, England, and her childhood friend that she went 40 years without seeing…what a great reunion….and Judi Calvert, the historian of massage and owner of the Hands On Trade Association, who has given me several lovely gifts over the years, brought me a picture of a musician from the 1930s.

Sunday I helped at the registration desk all day with some other volunteers. I got to know Linda Wilson from ItWorks, who turned out to be a heck of a singer and a major performer at our karaoke night later in the week. Sunday night we had the keynote speech from Vivian Madison Mahoney, and some great entertainment from Quentin Flagg. Quentin is a hoot. I’d fall over on stage if I tried to bounce around like he does! His show is high energy and everyone enjoyed it. Champ was up dancing with all the ladies. We also had the Industry Awards ceremony, and I was honored with the Media Award…I wasn’t expecting that and hadn’t prepared anything to say, so I basically just said “Thank you.” I do appreciate it! READ MORE….

Comments (0) Posted by Laura Allen on Saturday, August 10th, 2013