The US Massage Therapy Network is a grassroots movement to organize massage therapists across the US to provide information and build community. Local area networks get together regularly in person and online to provide support for each other and keep up to date with local issues and state issues as well as national issues. The massage profession/industry has lacked the vision to lead us to the future. Our professional associations have become CE and liablity insurance providers only. The direction of the profession has been determined by fighting fires that crop up and reactive policy making rather than actions and legislation that will help show the world just what massage is about.
There are 2 distinct categories of massage that are provided in different settings:
1. Wellness and Health Promotion – Relaxation, Stress management, Pain management and Physical function.
• Spa setting
• Massage franchise/ Wellness center
• Sports and fitness setting
• Independent massage practice
2. Medical care – Pain managment, physical functioning, palliative care.
• Clinical/medical/rehabilitation settings (Hospitals, Hospice care, Cancer Centers, Pain Clinics, Injury/surgery rehabilitation
• Independent massage practice with complex clients who have medical conditions.
It is important to focus on building a network of people—ordinary people like you who never have time to get involved in all the legal, research, and advocacy mubmo jumbo. Advocates/activists are already on the bandwagon. We need everyday massage therapists to be the key agents of change in the massage profession. Up to now, it has been the advocates/activists promoting their own agendas. When we are all involved we can design the strategy and achieve the desired outcome: Respect.
Respect massage therapists and don’t confuse us with prostitutes.
Respect massage and cover massage sessions on health insurance plans.
Respect massage therapy and see the power of our work.
The idea comes from what were once AMTA Units where local massage therapists got together and organized low cost CE classes and worked together to share information. AMTA has disbanded the local Units many years ago.
Here are some of the things that local networks can work on:
- Create a clear vision of where we want to go to include education, awareness of massage, illicit massage businesses anc create clear definitions of the top popular modalities.
- First study various topics to see what is needed in each area: number of hours of education required for entry level and advanced therapists, CE requirements for professional development, state licensing laws to compare scope of practice and other things. Research whether we should move to a tiered licensing format which has been talked about for a long time. If we want to move toward evidence based care, then we may want to start with an evidence based profession.
- Take the NCBTMB Board Certification Exam. At this time, the exam is the only thing we have to separate massage therapists from licensed massage therapists. The NCBTMB is in financial trouble and will need money to take the next steps in creating Board Certifications as compared to Specialty Certificates.
- Work to create Board Certifications in Clinical Massage, Sports Massage, Oncology Massage, Hospital Based Massage, Pregnancy massage and other specialties.
- Create model legislative language for states to use in creating bills that mandate coverage of massage therapy by health insurance starting with what has happened in WA State where they have been credentialed with health insurance since 1993 by the Every Category Law that was passed.
- Create a plan to work on healthcare integration issues.
- Address the OPIOD epidemic and the need for massage therapy.
- City and county ordinances governing massage that call massage therapists masseuses and make they pay for various licenses.
- Tracking and working to eliminate illegal massage businesses- aka prostitutes/brothels doing business as massage therapists. Create a REAL massage campaign.
- State Board of Massage issues – rule making, hours of education, ce requirements, portability of licenses.
- Issues in Continuing Education requirements
- State massage licensing issues.
- Advocacy work through Local Networks
- Getting massage therapy covered by health insurance and medicare/medicaid.
- Employment issues.
- Create Peer Supervision groups, training to become supervisors and implement supervision groups in the local networks.
- Form practice-based research network of massage school clinics. Create a series of research projects exploring what is taught, conditions that present in clinics, how treatments are designed, and assessing the impact of massage. Involve faculty and advanced students in conducting and publishing reviews of literature and outcomes of studies.