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Massage Today
June, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 06


By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

I'm hoping you'll remember my editorial concerning rule changes to the massage licensing law in North Carolina (

I recently received a response from the attorney representing the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy (NCBMBT). I was flattered and amazed at the response. I am always flattered when I find that someone actually reads my editorials to discover my perspectives and points of view! I was amazed though, that the North Carolina board felt my opinions were worth generating a four-page letter in response. I want to thank both the NCBMBT and its attorney for taking the time to respond. It is important that awareness and exploration of issues precedes action. The letter was an attempt to "set the record straight" from their perspective. I wish I could print the letter, but it is far too long; however, you can view it at

The attorney's letter stated that my editorial did a disservice to Massage Today readers by making false and misleading statements and discrediting his agency. From my perspective, the attorney suggested that my criticisms were made necessary because of the mission of his board. The actual practice act states:

§90-621. Declaration of purpose. The General Assembly recognizes that the improper practice of massage and bodywork therapy is potentially harmful to the public. Mandatory licensure of those engaged in the practice of massage and bodywork therapy is necessary to ensure minimum standards of competency and to protect the public health, safety, and welfare.

While I understand his need to effectively represent his client, I think the lawyer missed the point - much as the North Carolina Board missed the boat on effective regulation. He does state that the board has many responsibilities and costs, but is limited in its funding, which makes me want to rethink some of my criticisms of how it regulates schools; it makes me hope that what appears to be unfair treatment of small proprietary schools and community colleges is due to a funding compromise, as opposed to a spiteful act.

Having met this attorney several years ago at a meeting of the (now defunct) National Alliance of State Massage Therapy Boards, I believe that he has a desire to have fair and effective legislation associated with his work. I just wish that the practicing massage therapists that he counsels passed on to him more of the realities of our profession, and after re-reading his response many times, I stand by almost all of my original opinions; however, I do need to correct one of my comments.

In my editorial, I said "There is a requirement to report others' violation of NC rules within 10 days or be subject to the same penalties as the person causing violation." Unfortunately, this was information given to me that I did not sufficiently fact-check; in fact, it is not true that failure to report would result in the same penalty as the person committing a violation. Thanks to the board's letter to me, I find that failure to report is a minor infraction, which would result in smaller fines and a lighter disciplinary sanction. I apologize for my misstatement.

On another note, I hope everyone reads Rebecca Razo's article, "Setting the Record Straight: Massage Gets a Bad Rap in National Report" ( A frequently quoted physician was interviewed for a piece that appeared in print and on T.V. in several major media markets. His perceived messages to the public indicated that 15 percent of massage patients need corrective treatment following massage and that "thin people" should avoid deep-tissue massage because of potential injury. The fact that these statements were made by a physician and carried by major regional network news outlets brought credibility to the story. Unfortunately, that "credibility" is only the appearance of truth, and borders on hypocrisy. I am not shocked that a physician chose to pull bogus statistics out of the air, but I am shocked that these claims were made by a DO, presumably trained in the efficacy of manual techniques to facilitate homeostasis.

I have no doubt that these messages about potential massage pitfalls will have adverse effects on those "on the fence" about whether massage could be a solution to their discomfort. That is most unfortunate, as more people will now likely be dealing with unnecessary effects of stress and dysfunction than would have otherwise. This indicates to me that we need to continue publishing all the research data on touch we can find; it is also proof-positive that if we want to expand our practices, our existing patients/clients are the most important people on the earth!

Thanks for listening!

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue of Massage Today. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.


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