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Massage Today
November, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 11

We Get Letters & E-Mail

By Editorial Staff

Editor's Note: Some letters have been edited for space and clarity.

Responses to "Blowing off Steam"

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to "Blowing off Steam" (We Get Letters and E-Mail, August,

I am pleased the writer acknowledges how much AMTA does to promote the profession through the media.

As a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit association, AMTA is bound by certain legal requirements to promote the common interests of the massage therapy profession. AMTA must work to improve the industry in general, and not just the self-interest of individual members. We strive to represent the best interests of the whole massage therapy profession and the well-being of the public.

We explain to journalists that only 33 states, plus Washington, D.C., regulate massage therapists, and a consumer cannot always know, especially in unregulated states, if a person is qualified to practice. We offer a national locator service as a reliable source to find a qualified massage therapist - not the only qualified therapists. By educating [the media] about this service, they in turn educate the public on how to find a therapist they know will have the necessary initial training to practice.

AMTA is proud to promote its members! The fact that the media tells the public to look for an AMTA member is more a testament to our work for the profession (and our members) than an implied negative against those who are not members. We know there are many qualified and "good" massage therapists who aren't members of AMTA.

AMTA will continue to work with the media to educate the public about massage therapy and how to find a qualified massage therapist. But, we also will actively promote our members as the qualified people they are.

Brenda L. Griffith, AMTA President
Richmond, Virginia

This is regarding the letter from Robin, who resents articles [that] tell readers to contact the AMTA if they want a "qualified massage therapist" ("Blowing off Steam," We Get Letters and E-Mail, August,

Right on, Robin! In most every other profession, it would be considered a biased and false statement to suggest only members of the profession belonging to a union or special group are qualified. I was a nurse for 25 years before I became a massage therapist, and I immediately saw the "AMA" inside the "AMTA." It is for this reason and others that I will NOT join the AMTA, and I also highly resent the implication that I am not qualified.

Cindy Holt
Alta Loma, California

Columnist Generates Controversy and Praise

Dear Editor:

I am writing to convey my anger at the anti-government message that seems to surface in most of Ralph Stephens' articles. Although many people these days are dismayed with the policies of the current administration (to put it mildly), does Stephens really think that as a nation, we could do without governmental bodies? His highly offensive populist position seems to imply this!

As a practicing massage therapist, I believe that patients' rights to privacy have to be protected, and I do not pretend to know the least about HIPAA ("Privacy Doublespeak," However, as a citizen who has been without adequate health care insurance for some time, I believe it is high time we treated health care as a basic right in this country, not as a commodity available only to those who have the ability to pay. The so-called need for freedom of choice he mentions is now only available to those who can pay. This is no freedom at all. I say, "bravo" to nationalized health care. It works in most other industrialized countries and it can work here too.

Although there is a need for someone with expertise to keep us informed about legislation affecting the massage community, isn't there someone with a more balanced view? I hope his views are not representative of Massage Today's or massage therapists, in general. It is quite clear that Mr. Stephens is devoid of concern for the 40-plus million citizens who have no medical insurance coverage of any kind.

May I suggest, Mr. Stephens, a bit more common knowledge, care and concern, or am I asking too much?

Dr. Eleanor LaPointe
Lakewood, New Jersey

I have learned over time that conspiracy theories are almost always wrong. Doomsday scenarios seldom happen. Hyping fear of anything is counterproductive and usually wasted energy because fear is more imaginary than real. I think Mr. Stephens has gone off the deep end of rationality, and you do a disservice to your readership by publishing his unfounded fears and threats of doom.

Ed Denning
Canton, Ohio

This letter is to express my appreciation for the column by Ralph Stephens. Reading it is like getting a breath of fresh air. I am so glad to see that someone in our profession is commenting upon the limitations and often destructive tendencies of the allopathic monopoly (consisting of the AMA; the insurance industry; the pharmaceutical companies; and the government), which truly does promote "sickness" care rather than health care, and whose concern is so often the "bottom line" more than the welfare of the patients.

Since the medical system is where (unfortunately) the power is, it attracts the attention of therapists who are unaware of how far astray it has gone from healing principles. I am glad to hear voices in your publication encouraging massage practitioners to stay outside of a "health care" system - which itself is very sick - and listen to our hearts, and consider the welfare of our clients above political and economic gain.

Jan DeCourtney, CMT
Boulder, Colorado

Dear Ralph:

What a pleasure to skim your current article in Massage Today. You are doing a masterful job researching and reporting to the many of us who are too busy dealing with life to take the time to do it on our own. I commend you and applaud your courage at dealing with important issues head-on and doing so in a "fair and balanced" way. Perhaps Fox News should bring you on board! Keep up the good work.

Russ Borner
Park Ridge, New Jersey

Ralph Stephens Responds:

Thank you for your responses to my column(s) and to the many readers, like Jan, for their support and encouragement.

To Dr. LaPointe and Mr. Demming, I ask that you reread the title of my column in Massage Today (MT): "My View From Here." I don't know how to make it any clearer that this column is an editorial and my personal view, and not necessarily representative of the views of MT or the profession as a whole.

One of the purposes of MT is to provide a forum to discuss issues relative to our profession. I present a view of the issues that concern me, and hopefully others. My goal is to stimulate discussion that will cause people to think and act. MT regularly features columnists promoting other sides of the same issues I address, including yours, Mr. Denning, which are just as biased as my own. This offers balance, and MT provides more balance in their coverage of our profession than any other publication of which I am aware. Would you only want one side of an issue presented? I find it interesting when people with pro- "big" government, pro-insurance views (of which you both seem to have) demand freedom to express them, but want no opposing views expressed. Debate is healthy and I hope it continues.

My dictionary defines populist as: "n - an advocate of the rights and interests of ordinary people, for example, in politics or arts; adj - emphasizing or promoting ordinary people, their lives or their interests."

I try to promote the rights and preserve the freedoms of ordinary alternative healthcare providers and people. I'm sorry my "populist" position is offensive to you, but I am offended by the idea that it is my responsibility to pay taxes that will buy prescription drugs for and fund the health care insurances of medical doctors; Bill Gates; David Rockefeller; Ted Kennedy; and Rush Limbaugh.

Please be assured I am quite concerned about the health of humanity; I just do not see how it will improve by providing only allopathic medical insurance coverage and prescription drugs, or allowing insurance companies to control alternative providers.

I am not anti-government, anarchist or a conspiracy theorist. I believe in government, and I have never proposed that we could get along without governmental bodies, though I think we could get along better with fewer than we have now. I am not trying to spread fear or threaten "doom"; but I am trying to spread awareness. Attempting to silence an opposing view by name-calling or attacking the individual has become a standard political tactic in this country that distracts people from the real issues.

It's sad we have lost the ability to debate on the plane of ideas. We need more rational thinking and less emotional reacting. Let's discuss all sides of the issues - not the people who are for or against them - and let the members of the profession decide for themselves.

Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The following letters were not published in this month's print version of Massage Today.

"Have you had problems with the NCBTMB?"

Dear Massage Today Readers:

We are seeking the pros and cons of those who certify through the NCBTMB. Our experience has shown us no difference in competency or quality between those who do and do not certify; moreover, we have found NCBTMB's testing process to be untimely and not cost-efficient. We are compiling a record of problematic experiences candidates have had, and would appreciate any experiences candidates would like to share. Our hope is to one day have an examination process that will indeed credential a therapist of higher competency, whether it be through improving NCE or creating another [test]. We look forward to your feedback.

Selena Belisle, President
Massage Works, Inc.
335 Washington Street
Braintree, Ma 02184
Phone: (781) 356-7654

Readers Express Appreciation for our Columnists

Mr. Korn:

After reading your article in the July issue (, self-care has a new meaning. I wanted to thank you for such a "wow" moment.

Tonya L. Williams, LMT

As a licensed acupuncturist with a special love for the hands-on healing arts, I really appreciate the information in Barbra Esher's columns. After writing several articles for Massage Today's sister publication, Acupuncture Today, I appreciate how much work goes into such efforts. Massage Today readers are fortunate to have someone of Barbara's caliber taking the time to contribute such thoughtful, informative columns.

Matthew D. Bauer, L.Ac.
San Dimas, California

I wanted you to know I found your Web site looking up an herb and then found Barbra Esher's articles quite exceptional. Thank you for sharing this information on the internet.

Robin Fajnsztajn

I truly applaud your inclusion of Barbra Esher's column in Massage Today. They are not only pertinent to me as a shiatsu practitioner, but I think they are informative and appealing to many bodywork therapists. Thanks for having this insight.

Judy Godino


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