Speak Up

Those of you who follow happenings in the field are aware that the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) project has been progressing for the better part of the past year. How many of you know what this may mean for the massage and bodywork profession?

If you do, you are a soothsayer; while there are many hopes of how a completed body of knowledge will affect the profession, only the future will tell us how it is utilized.

The MTBOK task force has been diligently working on assembling and crafting the MTBOK since it convened last July; a first draft was released in the fall, and received just more than 600 comments. The second draft of the MTBOK was released January 29, and comments are being solicited until March 8, 2010. To date, more than 400 comments have been received. This from a profession of 280,000+ professionals.

There are few guarantees in life—death, taxes, and differences of opinion are three. Any time some definitive statement is made, like an establishment of a body of knowledge, invariably there will be dissenters. There should be; massage and bodywork is a wonderfully diverse profession, full of wonderfully diverse people.

A profession, whether overtly or not, owns its body of knowledge; in the case of the MTBOK, several organizations joined together to help support the effort to catalog that body of knowledge. Any time individuals are tasked to produce content of this nature, opinions and judgments are included. There is no vacuum through which a body of knowledge can be derived; people are involved, and therefore subjectivity exists. I’ve had the privilege of serving on behalf of ABMP as a steward for the MTBOK project; I am fully supportive of the effort made, and in particular deeply grateful for the dedication and work provided by the volunteers who comprise the MTBOK Task Force.

I believe card-carrying members of this profession owe it to themselves and to all their brethren and sistren in the field to, at a minimum, read the draft of the MTBOK. Guess what? It’s not a quick, easy read; it’s 56 pages long. But as the draft states:

“We hope to achieve a living, learning ”document” – that is, one that grows with, and in some cases ahead of, our community. It will become living if you, the community, embrace it, become involved with it over time, and continue to keep it relevant, responsive, growing, and strong.”

The group of stewards, representing many of the larger organizations in the field, felt strongly that this effort deserved appropriate attention and resources. But the profession owns it.

You’re a part of the profession—speak up. Even if it is only to validate what has already been developed. Your voice is important.

5 thoughts on “Speak Up

  1. Thanks for posting this, Les. You answered a question I had posted on Laura Allen’s blog about what the field will do with this info. TBD is a good answer.

    The lack of response reminds me of what happened when COMTA was facilitating the development of the competencies for the curriculum standard. It was like pulling teeth to get feedback. It too was originally a very lengthy document, but it was critical that the Commission receive the feedback because COMTA’s approval by the USDE was in many ways dependent on it–the USDE was the agency that told us we needed to do it!

    It’s sad and discouraging that more people don’t take the time to have their voice heard now, when it makes a difference. I can pretty much guarantee their voices will be heard after the fact!

    So to all massage therapists I say, hop to it. Take the time to define our profession now!

    Thanks again for the goose, Les.

  2. While I appreciate enthusiasm for my/our profession, I also admit confused dismay. I do not understand why we have three separate, major professional associations, and at least 3-4 separate, major research/knowledge databases (via AMTA, ABMP, NCTMB, TRI). It appears as though the profession is competing against itself, and I cannot handle keeping up with all three! I do my best to work with the science and medical community in mind, but I have my limits as I am sure we all do. Shouldn’t we be forcing our leaders to work together, under one professional umbrella?

    • Thanks for your note, Paula. I’m sure at times it does feel like alphabet soup. There really are two primary professional associations (ABMP & AMTA); NCBTMB is a certifying body. While there is competition between AMTA & ABMP, we also work together on areas of common interest. The MTBOK is a prime example of this. What all the different organizations have in common is that they share a duty to serve the interests of the field and its members. The MTBOK is an important way we are doing that–in this case, that is the “professional umbrella.” I feel strongly that there is a place for healthy competition; if it exists, ultimately the consumer (in this case the massage therapist) benefits.

      Thanks for your feedback.



  3. Medicine limited its holistic view in the process of “defining” it’s expertise and setting limits on scope of practice. Cross-pollination in that arena is costly and formal, slowing down the process of learning. Compartmentalization. Perhaps this is why therapists are so reluctant to define themselves. Let’s not make the same mistake or the same chaotic lack of public access to truth in healthcare.

  4. I’m feeling like a soothsayer, Les. I am one that believes if one is not part of the solution, one is part of the problem. So few responses from so large a field has ALWAYS been the problem.

    The Amta and the ABMP have said that more than one half of their membership thought state licensing was the way to go. Rarely mentioned is the percentage of membership that respond when asked an important question.

    It really is no different than the big picture ie in some elections less than 20% of the voting public can swing a nasty agenda because of a low turnout.

    A MTBOK, considering the number of ways massage and touch can be learned and applied will be much more a WOI (Wealth of Information) that will be forged into a curriculum that will be taught by the schools. Much of that information will be material that is not necessary to lay hands as a practioner.

    Take a look at the O*Net where the writing is on the wall for what could become required information to enter the field. http://online.onetcenter.org/link/summary/31-9011.00

    It is the educators (schools) that in the end will determine the BOK, not the practitioners. Because of your piece, I will reopen the document just to see what they are up to.

    Take good care!