The Therapists Win

By Leslie Young
[Editor's Note]

Congratulations, members. This spring the World Massage Festival organizers dubbed Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Massage & Bodywork’s publisher, Association of the Year. ABMP President Les Sweeney accepted the honor at the annual event, held in New Braunfels, Texas, in April. Festival founder Mike Hinkle also added 12 more names—including Cliff Korn (formerly with Massage Today) and Jean Shea (Biotone)—to his World Massage Hall of Fame.

Hinkle’s been trying to get his festival off the ground for four years now and he’s really gaining momentum. Establishing a Hall of Fame and delivering annual awards is an ingenious way to boost attendance at his festival, but more importantly spotlights the importance of association membership and excellence in our profession. Hinkle says membership is just common sense.

“Association membership gives massage therapists a voice at the table. And it is up to them to join and speak up,” Hinkle says. “An association should make you feel at home and feel like someone is looking out for you.”

Of course, the list of possible candidates is short given the number of  massage associations in the United States, but the majors—ABMP and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)—are stronger for having the competition. In fact, in recent history they have partnered in some very meaningful ways, from fruitful legislative discussions and concurrence on the importance of the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) to moving forward the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge project (see page 20).

But what about those who aren’t benefiting? More than 68,000 therapists belong to ABMP and 58,000 to AMTA—more than 126,000 practitioners are under the umbrella of membership enjoying a variety of benefits depending on their affinity. But that means more than half of the country’s estimated 278,000 bodyworkers are adrift without the wisdom, camaraderie, liability protection, and other tangibles inherent in full-service association membership. You probably know who many of them are; you can do them a huge favor by helping educate them about what they’re missing.

One look at your member materials will remind you of the value belonging to an association brings. As the saying goes, “There’s safety in numbers.” In the massage and bodywork field, that couldn’t be more true.

Hinkle is pleased to invite you to the 2010 festival in Berea, Kentucky, in June. (Visit for details.) You can attend continuing education classes, visit with vendors, commune with your professional peers, and help educate the uninitiated about the value of association membership.


Leslie A. Young, Editor in Chief