Massage Today Get the Latest News FASTER - View Digital Editions Now!
Massage Today dotted line
dotted line

dotted line
Share |
  Forward PDF Version  
Massage Today
January, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 01

We Get Letters & E-Mail

By Editorial Staff

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

The State of Massage Education

Dear Editor:

I must agree with Ralph Stevens that massage education is still failing (November 2003,; however, I do not believe that adding more hours to training programs will automatically result in higher standards.

Many schools with 500-hour programs fail to make the best use of those hours, and tacking on additional hours would simply result in more wasted time for students.

I fear the problem runs deeper than hours or even external standards imposed by accreditation agencies. At the heart of the issue, the failing of massage education reflects our society's dreadful "dumbing down" of education, in general. We have shifted the focus of education to coddling students, and making them feel good, regardless of their performance. True education demands excellence!

Instead, we kowtow to slackers, afraid to bruise their fragile egos by pushing them to be accountable to higher standards, work harder, and strive to achieve their best. As a nation, we have forgotten that the only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary! When we spoon-feed "knowledge" to students, we rob them of the joy of true learning. They learn nothing of the struggle to master an idea or skill, and the confidence that is built as a result of that struggle. To quote Michelangelo: "If people knew how hard I have had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful."

Gail Frei, LMT, NCTMB
Hobe Sound, Florida

(Editor's note: Read more about Gail's position on education in her article, "A Quality Education Benefits More Than Students," in this issue.

Dear Editor:

There are many massage schools lacking in quality. I have been teaching for three years now, and have seen less than adequate teachers in the massage profession. My [school's] program is one of the most expensive in the state, but we seem not to give the students their money's worth!

Ryan Hoyme

Dear Editor:

Some more comments on Ralph Stephens article: I don't feel that the educational level of practitioners is as much of a threat to our profession as the proliferation of massage parlors. Businesses that represent their work as "massage" when they have only one credentialed therapist are committing acts tantamount to misrepresentation and fraud. The organizations that offer these businesses memberships should also be sanctioned.

Also, after 10 years as a registered nurse in holistic health, I must agree that despite its problems, it may be essential for the U.S. to switch to a national health plan. While Mr. Stephens may not want to help pay for the care of affluent Americans, I hope he understands that he is currently paying for the care of many "noncitizens." Many of my patients "worked the system," getting better health care than was available to me. Yes, it will be a tough fight to limit health care to the basics for all and pay-as-you-go extras, but won't it be worth it to have all Americans covered for basic medical necessities, including post-accident massage?

Suzanne Christy, RN, BSN, CMT
Albrightsville, Pennsylvania

Misgivings About Massage Poll

Dear Editor:

Massage Today's October 2003 online "Massage Poll" asked: "Do you think the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCE) is a reliable tool to evaluate the knowledge and skill of a massage therapist?"

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is interested in the perceived value of its exam and national certification. That's why NCBTMB conducted a survey in conjunction with FGI Research (a unit of Yankelovich Research) of nearly 800 practitioners this September. In direct contrast to Massage Today's results, the NCBTMB survey indicated that:

  • More than 89 percent of those surveyed believe NCBTMB certification increases credibility, and more than 80 percent indicated that NCBTMB certification added value to their practice;
  • Ninety percent indicated that NCBTMB certification reinforced the professional nature of their practice, and 81 percent felt it added value to the field by standardization;
  • A majority of practitioners indicated that certification helped them get a job in the field and helped them charge higher rates for services; and
  • More than half of certificants were not required by their state or employer to get NCBTMB certification, but became certified anyway.

Survey participants were selected randomly from three categories - current nationally certified practitioners; those who had let their certification, lapse; and certificants approaching their renewal period - for the 20-minute phone survey.

The discrepancy between Massage Today's poll and NCBTMB's study lies in the nature of the research. Massage Today indicates that its poll is "nonscientific," but fails to mention that visitors to its Web site may vote on the poll as many times as they wish. Massage Today stated that the survey results represented "responses from 4,166 people" [December issue]. In fact, the survey may not represent the responses of 4,166 people inasmuch as it represents 4,166 votes - not exactly a fair representation of the voice of the profession.

National certification is more than an exam - it's an entire program of requirements developed to ensure competency and standards, including 500 hours of formal in-class education or a portfolio of comparable experience, as well as passage of the NCE and a pledge to uphold NCBTMB's Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Certificants must recertify every four years to demonstrate continued competence. Considering these factors, it's difficult to accept the Massage Today poll as a true indicator of practitioners' perceptions of the NCE and national certification.

NCBTMB is committed to maintaining the quality of its certification program and listening to its certificants. We will continue to pursue our mission to foster high standards of ethical and professional practice through a recognized credible credentialing program that assures the competency of practitioners of therapeutic massage and bodywork.

Garnet Adair, NCTMB Chair, NCBTMB

Massage Today responds:

Ms. Adair's letter makes some valid points - especially related to the wording of the poll results - which is why, beginning with this issue, the wording will say "these results are based on 4,166 responses" instead of "responses from 4,166 people"; however, we would like to reiterate that the poll is informal; it makes no scientific claims whatsoever and is simply another way to promote healthy dialogue within the massage community. The poll is a forum where all voices can be heard.

Rebecca J. Razo, managing editor
Massage Today

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

"Canyon Ranch at the Venetian only finds 'acceptable' candidates from the Nevada or Utah Schools of Massage Therapy"

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to the featured article "An Interview with Blake Feeney, Director of the Canyon Ranch Spa Club" (Talking Spas, September,; specifically, in regards to a quote in the article pertaining to where Canyon Ranch at the Venetian finds "qualified personnel."

It is well known in the Las Vegas massage community that Canyon Ranch at the Venetian will only accept applicants who have graduated from either the Nevada School of Massage Therapy or Utah School of Massage Therapy (both schools are from the same parent corporation).

Applicants who have "confidence, therapeutic skills and a professional massage," as well as spa experience and local licensing are summarily ignored. Bottom line is: Canyon Ranch at the Venetian will hire a graduate from the Nevada or Utah schools with zero spa experience, zero private practice experience, no licensing, no national certification, and zero continuing education. Other applicants -- no matter how experienced, qualified or credentialed -- are ignored.

Surely, in a resort town with a thriving spa industry and many quality massage schools, there are any number of candidates who possess the skills to land a position at any resort spa. And while some spas are specific in their expectations of applicants (such as having at least one year of spa experience), I find it odd -- bordering on discriminatory -- that Canyon Ranch at the Venetian only finds "acceptable" candidates from the Nevada or Utah Schools.

The glossy corporate spin of the article only pays lip service to the mirage of Canyon Ranch Spa at the Venetian as an equal opportunity employer when it comes to massage therapists.

Name withheld
Las Vegas, Nevada

"I had the same experience with NCBTMB"

Dear Editor:

Just viewing letter to the editor from Robert Orzel [December 2003,]. I had the same experience with NCBTMB. I went to an AMTA-approved school in Washington, D.C. nine years ago, passed the national certification exam and was licensed by my state. Then I moved to Arizona where they do not recognize national certification. I also think there should be a grandfather clause. I know exactly how Robert feels. Maybe if more of us spoke up, the Board would look into this.

M. Burns

Readers Appreciate Our Writers

Dear Editor:

I am a Sports Therapist in Gaborone, Botswana, Southern Africa. I really enjoyed [Michael McGillicuddy's] article on post-event sports massage (September, "The Art and Science of Post-Event Massage," It was straight to the point and made for easy reading.

Sarah Noble
Botswana, South Africa

Dear Editor:

I was pleased to see [Karen Jones'] iridology article in October's Massage Today ( and was glad to see information on the International Iridology Practitioners Association (IIPA).

It is nice to see a mostly accurate description of iridology in the media, as this has often not been the case. One thing I find helpful as a massage therapist is identifying the presence and amount of contraction furrows. A client with a high quantity of these concentric rings is most likely to have extremely tight muscles and a lot of resultant myalgia. They [tend to] desire the deepest massage work to help unwind those tight muscles. Without significant lifestyle changes (i.e., slowing down, exercising, yoga/stretching, deep-breathing/relaxation practices), they are destined to be long-term massage clients! On the other hand, clients with loose iris stroma cannot tolerate deep work and do best with lighter work.

Dr. Bill Caradonna, Cofounder, IIPA
Escondido, California

Dear Editor:

I'd like to compliment Maria Mathias on her article, "Infant Massage - Everyone Benefits" (November, The content is excellent, and it is written in a way that is very easy to comprehend. The main points are very well stated. A wonderful summary!

Barbara Ullrich

Aloha Kakou!

Thank you to Ralph Stephens for providing a clear, true voice for our profession; for your activism; for your wisdom and understanding of our current health system; for demanding accountability and integrity from our massage schools; for a vision of health care that is inclusive; for your independent thinking; and for defending your right to present your "view."

I look forward to more insightful columns and am glad you care so much about our profession. Mahalo nui loa, Ralph Stephens, and Massage Today for publishing a man of conscience.

Ken Ng
Los Angeles, California


Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.
comments powered by Disqus
dotted line