I have worked in and for the massage and bodywork field for a few weeks short of seventeen years. Like many of you who’ve spent that same time span in the field, I’ve seen many changes. Back in 1994 I joined an upstart counter-organization named ABMP. This newcomer association ruffled some feathers in the field with its arrival and occasional actions of self-defense. How our role has changed over the years! (Although I admit that, on occasion, we may still ruffle a few feathers.)
I am writing this while on a plane back from the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE, or “The Alliance”) annual conference in Charleston, South Carolina. The AFMTE has an ambitious agenda, and has made impressive progress in its 2-year history.
Its latest effort is a proposed establishment of “National Teacher Standards” for the massage therapy profession. Raising the bar for the quality of instruction in our field is a worthy goal, one that we at ABMP have embraced heartily over the past 5 years, led by our fantastic Director of Education Anne Williams. The Alliance’s next steps in this area could be valuable building blocks in the profession.
The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) has embarked upon a new continuing education approval regime; this effort could bring some important clarity regarding the sometimes-silly rules surrounding continuing education requirements. A coordinated effort with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) could provide much-needed value for professionals and CE providers.
As you may have heard, leaders of 7 organizations (ABMP, the Alliance, the FSMTB, and the NCBTMB included) are meeting next month in St. Louis to discuss issues facing the field. This gathering may lead to further collaboration among the organizations. And it follows our work together developing the first Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge.
Yes, in my 17 years, I’ve seen many phases in the field, and many periods of discord. I like today’s vibe. We still compete, but in many ways we’re all in a better place than ever.