The Massage Keiretsu?

There is a business expression in Japan known as a “keiretsu,” where a conglomeration of companies has interlocking relationships, typically for their mutual benefit. At the extreme, they may converge as a tightly woven monopoly, to the detriment of their clients and competitors. I’ve been getting some physical therapy recently (Mick said it best—“what a drag it is getting old”). While lying there during the ice/electric stim wrap-up, I began to wonder if massage therapy has developed a sort of keiretsu, inadvertently. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) has been in service to the profession for more than 65 years. In the past twenty years it begat the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) and the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF). In addition, it has a subset of its membership called the AMTA Council of Schools. Recently, a group of members of the AMTA Council of Schools decided to start its own organization, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AMTE). ABMP has been around since 1987, and in 2005 was supportive in the gestation of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), which developed the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Each year ABMP exhibits at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which perhaps you read about in this space back in July. ABMP feels it is important for us to represent our membership to state officials to help them better understand and appreciate massage and bodywork. Over the past several years, we have positioned our exhibit booth right next to AMTA’s booth. Our view has been that to the legislative world, the differences between AMTA and ABMP are not as important as they might be within the profession. Both organizations are in service to the profession, and therefore we feel it’s important to provide as constructive a voice possible to legislators. And we are comfortable standing next to them; hopefully they feel the same. Massage Magazine has three primary competing publications, including Massage & Bodywork (ABMP’s magazine, which is included as a benefit of membership) and MTJ (AMTA’s magazine, also included as a benefit of membership). However, Massage also accepts advertising from both organizations. As I mentioned earlier, NCBTMB was initially developed by AMTA. However, AMTA recently recommended the MBLEx be utilized as the licensing exam for the profession. NCBTMB also recently announced its intent to provide services as an association, which would place it in direct competition with AMTA and ABMP. I made ABMP’s views clear on this earlier this summer; AMTA did the same. Recently, NCBTMB also announced the launch of an advanced certification examination. At this point details aren’t real clear, but we think this has the potential to be a move in the right direction for NCBTMB and the profession. ABMP has been a steward of the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) project for the past 14+ months, alongside AMTA, AMTA’s Council of Schools, FSMTB, NCBTMB, and the MTF. We are delighted to do so, and have found it to be rewarding and important work. The work being done by the MTBOK task force is not about any one organization, or about these organizations collectively. It’s about helping to further establish the profession in more concrete terms; I view it as “mapping the DNA” of the massage profession. We are proud to support the effort and to do so alongside these organizations. When I look back at the definition of a keiretsu, my answer is no, massage does not have a keiretsu (despite the entreaties of the occasional conspiracy theorist). The organizations in the field do have relationships, and in some cases on several levels. But we also do not always see eye to eye, and some of us are in direct competition. Most of the acronyms I mention here are independent entities that exist for our own benefit. At the end of the day, the mutual benefit we exist for is the profession, and its future.


Oregon Seeks Applicants for Grant Program Advisory Committee

The Healthy Oregon Workforce Training Opportunity (HOWTO) Grant Program is seeking people to serve on the HOWTO Grant Program Advisory Committee. If you are a motivated leader committed to advancing health equity, trauma-informed workspaces, and expanding the health-care workforce in Oregon, apply before December 15, 2022.

Agenda Confirms CAMTC Could Seek Fee Hike

CAMTC's meeting agenda confirms there may be a vote on a fee increase and discloses meeting location. Submit comments to the CAMTC as soon as possible.


Earthlite Strives for Top Craftsmanship

Earthlite Crafts Massage Supplies.

Earthlite strives on a daily basis to serve its customers in a positive, friendly, and refreshing manner. Earthlite continually searches for ways to make its products better while maintaining its environmental policies. 

Make Gratitude Part of Your Daily Life

Man Giving Thanks to Nature.

While this is the time of year that #gratitude starts trending, living a grateful life is not something to wrap up in a day, a week, a month . . . or a hashtag. We need to honor it all from an open heart.

Upledger CranioSacral Therapy Can Help with PTSD

CranioSacral Therapy can help with PTSD.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on treatment modality that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance.


ABMP’s Lymph Talk Series

Lymph Talk is a series of conversations ABMP Director of Professional Education Kristin Coverly had with practitioners who specialize in the manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) modality. These talks were recorded in conjunction with the October 25, 2022, free, online ABMP CE Summit on Lymph. Kristin says, “My hope is that these conversations increase the awareness of MLD and demonstrate how effective it can be with different populations so massage therapists and bodyworkers are inspired to learn more about this gentle, yet powerful modality!”

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—MLD: Basic Techniques for the Neck and Face

Gain an understanding of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) movements and the location of important lymphatic structures as you watch Nicola McGill’s dynamic demonstration of three MLD techniques and MLD sequences for the neck and face. Learn about this important modality that, when provided effectively, can support and enhance the movement of lymph fluid through the lymphatic vessels and eventually back to the cardiovascular system.

2022 ABMP CE Summit Course—Introduction to Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a gentle, rhythmic form of bodywork that enhances and supports the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system to support health and well-being. Developed by Danish therapists Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1930s, MLD is now practiced extensively by health and wellness practitioners and is used within the medical community to treat lymphedema and post-surgical and post-traumatic edema. Join Nicola McGill in this engaging course to learn the benefits, indications, and mechanics of this gentle, effective modality.

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