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Massage Today
April, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 04

The National Alliance of State Massage Therapy Boards

By Editorial Staff


Editor's note: David Frostad is the 2000 president of the National Alliance of State Massage Therapy Boards (NASMTB), serving through March 2001. (Barbara Benson succeeds him as NASMTB president this month.) Mr.

Frostad is also the owner of a corporation that promotes the practice and education of massage. Although he travels around the country teaching and working, the major portion of Mr. Frostad's practice is based in Oregon, where he is also a member of the state board of massage.


A group of representatives from various state massage regulatory agencies met in August 1999 to join forces in establishing the National Alliance of State Massage Therapy Boards (NASMTB). Together they approved the following:

The National Alliance of Massage Therapy State Boards (NASMTB) mission is to serve as a resource to the member boards in their efforts to improve the quality, safety, and integrity of massage therapy services in the interest of public health, safety and welfare by:

  • Sharing and disseminating information to promote uniformity in the regulation of the practice of massage therapy.
  • Serving as a source for regulatory information for the public, government, and other professional regulatory boards.
  • Addressing multi-state massage therapy regulatory issues.
  • Encouraging research to enhance education, evaluation, and examination for licensure and/or certification as well as continued competency in massage therapy.

With the profession of massage and bodywork continuing to mature, an increasing number of states have enacted legislation. Since only a few have created distinct boards, a variety of public bodies now oversee the profession. With the different methods of oversight, there have also been a variety of standards created. Instead of a national standard, we have state-by-state differences in what is needed to protect the public from unscrupulous or immoral practices. This has created some uncomfortable difficulties for professionals.

Whereas the professional organizations function to protect the profession, the regulatory bodies have been instructed to protect the public at large. Although both might appear to have similar goals, they are not always identical. By recognizing these differences, we can best utilize the strengths of both groups.

National certification exams have helped to standardize the expectations of what professionals expect from each other. The professional standards, however, do not always reflect the requirements of what regulatory bodies believe are needed to protect the public. Unfortunately, this means that reciprocity between licensing bodies is currently an issue. Differences in expectations for education and competency can be costly and prohibitive for the movement of a practitioner from one state to another.

Each time the NASMTB meets, board representatives mention struggles that occur with licensing and regulation -- issues shared by other boards. Discussion helps us to standardize how we regulate the practice of massage. Common issues include: educational expectations (including minimum knowledge and skills, and hours vs. competency); written and performance licensing examination standards and methods; reciprocity and endorsement; expectations and measurement of continued competency; and the definition of massage for purposes of inclusion and exclusion of professional practices.

As we learn to better regulate this profession, it is also helpful to educate others about who we are and what rights and responsibilities we have by law. Although it is sometimes difficult to find information about the various regulations, the NASMTB is committed to improving access by maintaining contact information for the states. Most of the regulatory states have links on the World Wide Web to the statutes and rules for the profession; if not, they at least have contact information. In the past, obtaining this information from each state proved difficult because of differences in state search engines.

The NASMTB has compiled a list of state massage sites to make this search easier. You can find contact information for each state at www.nasmtb.org. Also included is contact information for the District of Columbia, the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, and links to various organizations connected with the profession of massage and bodywork. (Editor's note: At the time this issue went to press in late March 2001, the NASMTB website was "currently under construction.")

The NASMTB meets twice a year to discuss issues of common interests to the member regulatory bodies. If you have an issue you would like to present to the NASMTB, please send written notice to:

National Alliance of State Massage Therapy Boards
317 Salvatore Avenue
Middlesex, NJ 08846

 

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