'Round the Table

['Round the Table]

As a massage professional, I hope to see all fifty states implement a national certification requirement for licensure. I am very aware that many therapists, some educators, and even more than a couple state boards disagree. However, in order for our industry to become more accepted within the medical community, we must first hold ourselves, and our colleges, to a much higher standard. For those of you who are unaware, we still have states with no more educational requirements than a weekend of training. And yes, that weekend can be done in the convenience of your own home on a computer.

Don’t we owe it to ourselves and to all those who seek our services to make sure that future massage therapists, and bodywork professionals, are properly trained, insured, and licensed?

Angela Barker
Milton, West Virginia

I believe we have an exceptionally bright future, but beginning therapists are much younger these days and there is a sharp division in their goals. As a school owner, I see an equal amount of students who wish to become either spa or clinical therapists. I believe that both job markets are growing, while completely different. In many states, we are a licensed healthcare occupation, and mandated foundations such as anatomy and pathology are unexpected and overwhelming for many students. Potentially great therapists can become lost when facing academic challenges. We need to continue to meet their needs during the application process and in the classroom to see them gain success.

Mirra Greenway
Columbia, Missouri


With massage therapy as the new lifestyle choice, businesses and jobs are becoming readily available. Meanwhile, regulations are becoming stricter and the surplus in the market permits prices to hit rock bottom at the expense of the massage therapist.

As with any market on the verge of supersaturation, receiving massage at an affordable price may become easier, however detrimentally to the massage therapist. Massage companies advertising record low $40 massages are at the expense of the massage therapist. Massage mills are able to turn profits due to the volume of sales: their establishment has multiple stoic rooms they can fill, splitting their low price among many therapists per hour. While a chain massage mill can afford to schedule a volume of massages, the therapist can still only physically perform the same amount of treatments. In the distant future, action on behalf of the massage therapists may require a state or national labor union to enforce minimum pay and fair treatment to contractors.

Kendra Henderson
Los Angeles, California

As a massage therapist in a state that has no regulation, I believe that if this profession wants to be taken seriously, we need to have specific licensing requirements for calling yourself a massage therapist, as well as mandatory continuing education. The public needs one reporting organization to go to if something inappropriate and/or illegal occurs with his/her bodyworker. Additionally, it would help educate the public regarding our profession and the public would have the ability to verify the practitioner is properly educated, licensed, and insured. My concern is how to regulate such a wide variety of bodyworkers. Someone practicing medical massage versus reiki, while both are powerful and effective techniques, may necessitate different licensing requirements.

I believe the massage therapy field is on the brink of a powerful inclusion within the world of Western medicine. We need to present ourselves as the professionals we are.

Maryanne Gilbert
Golden, Colorado


Seeing our fellow massage therapists as colleagues instead of a threat is one of the most important factors of our profession. There is strength in numbers. I recall my business teacher in our massage class stating, “Look around you. Here is your competition and greatest threat.”

What a way to wage a war. Having twenty-five years in education has taught that the departments and classes that thrived and survived had a common bond of teamwork and family. We need to encourage each other, offer to pinch hit for each other for vacations, sickness, and family crisis. Since we deal so much with energy work, let us strive to offer love of the profession as well as the professional. No one is an island; so let’s help each other sail the ocean to that island. Look for opportunities within our massage communities and keep the channels open.

Carol Sue Richhart
Indianapolis/Carmel, Indiana

My biggest concern is the lack of leadership in the massage profession in helping to define the profession. Since massage is defined so differently by each state, educating the public as to what we do and the value of massage is a struggle. Your recent member survey that says that 62 percent of respondents have never received a massage because they didn’t perceive a value to massage or feel it is necessary is alarming and also a good motivation for us to work to clearly define ourselves and the value of massage.

Our lack of a clear definition for ourselves is now showing up clearly in the medical massage debate, with insurance companies in Washington now defining it for us.

Julie Onofrio
Redmond/Seattle, Washington



My current concern for this industry is the big business coming in—i.e., Massage Envy franchises. While I agree that business is the “American way,” I am feeling like the LMTs/CMTs who go to work there are traitors to the industry.

$39 massages! Ridiculous. How can a small business owner compete with that. I don’t know much about the health/disability benefits available; however, undercutting the “competition,” as we were told in school, is bad business.

In my community, it’s not unheard of for LMTs to discuss fee schedules. Most of us will increase our rates to match the others or offer discount packages or specials. This allows us to have cohesiveness and fair trade.

This is exactly the reason that I try and shop locally owned businesses in my town. I’d truly rather pay a bit more than allow these places to be gobbled up and lost forever.

Willow Muhr
Newberg, Oregon

With the high cost of health insurance and the number of individuals without it, I see more people turning to massage and bodywork for their health needs. Both massage and bodywork can be fairly inexpensive ways to help individuals manage and alleviate their health concerns. The one main concern I have is the high number of massage schools out there, turning out subpar therapists. Potential clients may have a difficult time finding qualified practitioners, especially in states where massage is not regulated, like here in Colorado.

Susan Clingman
Aurora, Colorado