resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
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MPA Media, publisher of Acupuncture Today, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecendented seven publishing awards by the ASBPE, the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
News in Brief
NBCE Launches Computer-Based Testing Era; California Chiropractors Get Expanded DOT Exam Privileges; New Jeff Hays Documentary.
If You Get a Request for Records, Respond!
In our previous two articles, we discussed two of the main reasons for denial when chiropractic records are reviewed by Medicare contractors.
History of Animal Acupuncture: Part II
In Part I of this article, I had gone back to 1969 and tried to describe the atmosphere and events of that year that engulfed many of the younger generation, some who were all the core members of the National Acupuncture Association.
Get Ready For AOM Day
This year, AOM Day 2014 falls on Friday, (October 24th). This is a great opportunity to make your AOM Day celebration or event even bigger by extending it throughout the weekend!
A Glimpse Into China's Top Brain Hospital
The sounds of the city pass through the open window are overwhelming the microphone - car horns, construction machinery - and then there's the family at the adjacent bed talking loudly on cell phones, yet you can still hear the faint beep of our patients monitoring equipment.
Thoracolumbar Syndrome: The Great Mimic
The thoracolumbar junction is a common area of joint dysfunction. The most obvious cause is dysfunctional breathing or lack of diaphragmatic breathing. Treating this breathing problem will ultimately be the long-term cure for the syndrome.
The Problem With Prolonged Sitting
We need to constantly talk to our patients about spending less time sitting and about what can go wrong with poor sitting postures. The fact is we sit too long in repetitive malpositions.
Healing Community Trauma in Israel and Palestine
It's the beginning of August and Israel and Hamas have just agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire after a month of brutal fighting. In the last four weeks, 1,830 Palestinians and 67 Israelis have been killed.
Improving Our Political Effectiveness
The November 2014 elections are right around the corner; members of Congress, governors and state legislators are all running. Now is a good time to talk frankly about our overall political involvement.
Rethinking GMO: Less Panic, More Context
Some of you may have noticed that after writing parts 1 and 2 of “Genetic Modification of Organisms for Human Consumption” a while back [Nov. 15, 2013 and Jan. 1, 2014 issues], part 3 never appeared.
The Truth About Herbs
I appreciate the effort and research put into the article written in the June issue of Acupuncture Today regarding pesticides and Chinese herbs.
Thoughts to Live By
When speaking to your patients about their health make sure to ponder the following points and have them assess if they are making themselves even more sick by the thoughts they have about life. Are these some of the traits and thoughts that your patients might have?
The Science Behind Happiness
Are you happy right now? Whether yes or no, there are a myriad of reasons why you feel that way. A whole academic discipline has developed to find out what causes or obstructs happiness, and how to amplify it.
The Spirit of the Point
After receiving a large amount of positive feedback on my San Zhen Protocols series, I have decided to focus this article on some relevant clinical aspects of acupuncture therapy prior to moving on to San Zhen Protocols III.
Let the Patient Tell Their Story
Often when a patient presents with an injury, they want to tell their story. People by nature like to talk about themselves, particularly when they're worried about their health.
A Commonly Missed Spinal Fixation: The Upper Lumbar Spine (Part 1)
When we think of lower back pain, we tend to think in terms of the lower lumbar spine and the SI joint. These joints and their discs are obviously important. However, we tend to miss fixations that occur just above – in the upper lumbar spine. Three questions come to mind: 1) Why is the upper lumbar spine so important? 2) Why do we miss the fixations here? 3) How can we adjust them?
Medicalization and Mindfulness
The past several years have seen a veritable explosion of research on mindfulness. Research abstracts we've published in each issue of Health Insights Today under the heading "Mind-Body News" have increasingly reported on studies about mindfulness interventions.
A Healthy Dose of Failure is Vital to Your Success
As an acupuncturist I tend to see people after they have already suffered for years and "tried everything." They are so desperate for some relief that they want to know everything about how to get better, right now.
Uncle Sam Needs You
Scrutiny into the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) continues to grow after efforts to reform the DVA by the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, were deemed "a stunning period of dysfunction" by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Help Secure Our Future by Sharing It
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys of the U.S. chiropractic profession every 4-5 years.
July, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 07
We Get Letters & E-Mail
By Editorial Staff
The following letters were not published in the printed edition of Massage Today. E-mail your comments to . Some letters have been edited for clarity.
In this segment:
Letters regarding Ralph Stephens' March article, "A Trade or Profession?" (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/03/11.html).
Letters regarding Cliff Korn's March editorial, "The Evils of Money," (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/03/09.html).
Letters regarding Cliff Korn's April editorial, "Of Foxes and Henhouses," (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/04/11.html)
"Ralph Stephens' rants are thought-provoking"
I have to admit that Ralph Stephens' rants are thought-provoking, and this installment in the March issue is no exception.In my experience, massage is neither a trade nor a profession, but rather a vocation -- literally, a calling or even a spiritual calling. Caring human touch is the basis of massage, and is the energy that facilitates healing in all modalities. Without it, massage is just physical therapy.
The proliferation of mediocre schools is not what makes mediocre therapists, as Mr. Stephens asserts. This is a symptom, not the cause. The cause is mediocre students. (No, I don't teach massage nor run a school.) Cartoonist Gary Larson caught the essence of the problem in his cartoon strip, "The Far Side," when he showed Captain Hook in a job counseling office trying to decide whether to be a pirate or a massage therapist.
The fact is, a good student will become a good therapist even after going to a mediocre school, because he or she will make the extra effort needed. Conversely, you can send mediocre students to the best schools in the world and train them for thousands of hours, and they will still be mediocre therapists. This is true in all fields.
A 1988 Chinese study found that experienced qi gong masters emitted greater than 20 dB (100 times) more infrasonic acoustic energy from their hands than the control group. If this test or one like it could be applied to massage therapists, perhaps we could weed out mediocrity so that Mr. Stephens could sleep at night.
Warren Marsh, NCTMB
I'm a massage therapy student in Ohio, and will graduate around Thanksgiving, sit for the exams, and (as long as I pass) be able to stick those three important letters -- "L" for Licensed, "M" for Massage, and "T" for Therapist -- at the end of my name.
I plan to further my education after graduating by learning and adopting a large number of different modalities to be the best therapist I can. With regards to the whole Trade/Profession argument that's abounding in the massage world (and in particular this publication over the past few issues), I say "Phooey!" Let's look again at the definitions that Ralph R. Stephens gave us:
As far as I see it, we're both. We're skilled practitioners who work on the body for a fee (or not if you're so inclined) and require specialized training and education. In most cases, we continue to educate ourselves beyond graduating from school: we attend seminars and workshops; learn special modalities; and work with our peers to train and develop further skills.
Do allopathic doctors graduate into their professional lives without having skills? Would you want a doctor to operate on you with no surgical skills? Do architects graduate without specialized or extensive training? Would you hire an architect to build you a house if he or she didn't how to apply the laws of physics to construction?
The argument for massage to be seen as a profession instead of a trade smacks of elitism and wanting to be elevated to the mythical status that doctors, lawyers and accountants. Vice versa, wanting massage to be seen as a trade smacks of not taking pride in our continuing education, interfacing with all other facets of the medical community and building on the knowledge that already exists.
The "rub" is that educational standards and requirements differ from state to state for massage, and there's no baseline for education. There's no overall organization responsible for overseeing and regulating massage nationally. The current national examination, the NCETMB, is performed online -- theres no practical exam. How on earth, as physical professionals, can we not be tested on our palpation and manipulation skills? Some states regulate massage and provide their own examinations and licensure, while others do not. Some states don't even require a certification, never mind a license.
There needs to be a national licensure organization, just like there is for registered nurses. With a national organization at the helm, establishing a baseline for education, there would be a nationally recognized license that would allow therapists to work easily in different states (as they often find hard to do right now). Massage would also attain a level of acceptability within the medical community that it currently doesn't have; massage therapy can only benefit from such a thing.
In Ohio, massage therapy is a limited branch of medicine and regulated by the State of Ohio Medical Board. I'm proud of that, because massage therapy is perceived to be a healing profession, with regulation comes compliance and protection of the client base. We still suffer by not having practical testing, but I think we're better of than a number of other states.
Jason Paul McCartan
"Cliff Korn's column...opens a needed dialogue"
I just finished reading the March 2004 edition. Congratulations on the success of this magazine. I'm writing because I agree with Cliff Korn that massage therapists are under paid because many of us love what we do and aren't good business people. But, as our profession works diligently to increase the level of public awareness to the benefits of massage therapy it is time our profession stop putting a zero or discounted value on the importance of our work.
For example, in the article "Are You Sitting on a 24-Karat Gold Mine?" (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/03/07.html), Colleen (Steigerwald) Holloway's ideas for increasing business is to discount a massage by 50 percent or offer two massages for the price of one. I have yet to see any other profession offer suggestions such as this, unless they are selling a commodity that is overstocked. In the world of business it is important to know your target market. If massage therapists wants to increase their businesses, they should be more proactive. But, that doesn't mean selling services at a discount. There are plenty of other things that therapists can do to keep clients, such as sending birthday cards or reminder notices. As our profession becomes more aligned with the health care field, articles on how to run a successful health care practice would be appreciated.
Linda DeGray, MA, LMT
I have converted to the electronic form of Massage Today and it works great for me; the reminder in my e-mail box prompts me to read it. My only complaint is the same one I have about the paper issues: I mean to read just a couple of columns and wind up perusing the whole thing!
As always, Cliff Korn's [March 2004] column makes great sense and opens a needed dialogue. When I began massage practicing therapy in the 1970s there was a prevalence of the attitude "a massage should be as free as a hug," and for many, that outlook still has unwarranted resonance. The psychological makeup of caregivers and the prevailing attitude in the marketplace combine to create treacherous territory. Some massage consumers consciously or unconsciously expect that the therapist who enables their wellness should enable non-massage benefits as well. Although I do not practice anymore, I have acute memories of frequently hearing, "You have such a gift!" and having to ready myself to deflect attempts to receive my "gift" gratis.
I developed this rationale: My time and good name are all I truly have in life. I will give away some of the treasure of my time by doing massage, but it will be in exchange for someone else's treasure (of money or services), and will be done in a way that enhances my good name. I still donated my time to charitable enterprises and felt that was a way of adding to my good name.
Most schools are run by massage therapists who struggle with business concepts and applications. Just as one school in my old neighborhood had an entirely inadequate and absurd class in ethics ("Don't have sex with clients" and "Never break contact with your client's skin during a session"), some schools minimize or skip the very important topic of how massage works in the real-world marketplace
I hope your call for better a business foundation in massage schools brings about therapists who are better equipped to run their businesses.
P.S.- Regarding another issue you mentioned in your column: Do you remember Andrew Weil's address to the AMTA National Convention in New Orleans back in the 90s? He said that as he left Alaska to fly to Louisiana, people there were envious of his opportunity to be among hundreds of massage therapists. On the airplane he contemplated the shift of public attitude toward the profession. At the New Orleans airport he got into a taxi and when the driver asked what he was doing in New Orleans he said he was there to give an address to a meeting of the American Massage Therapy Association.
"Massage, huh?" the cabby said. "I bet you get lucky a lot."
Regarding Cliff Korn's March 2004 editorial, I definitely agree that massage therapists need to evaluate their fees based on their levels of expertise and their local market; however, I disagree with the insinuation that a massage therapist should charge more when "more advanced skills" are necessary to provide massage to his or her clients.
My physician does not charge more to bring all his knowledge to bear in diagnosing and treating patients, nor does my chiropractor charge more for a difficult adjustment. I passionately believe that my clients come to me for all my expertise, and to charge more or less for certain techniques would violate my code of ethics. That may be part of the reason I have never had to advertise, why many of my clients have been with me for over a decade, and why my appointment book is as full as I want it to be. I also believe that a "relaxation" massage, in many instances, is as therapeutic as a massage labeled as "therapeutic." The wise therapist is the one who recognizes and honors the value of both.
Paula Z. Hamelik, LMT
I have over 15-plus years in this business and can relate to this article. It was not long ago when folks said, "customer service in the health care field" when asked what I did for a living. NOT FOR FREE is what I take serious issue with in this article! I value myself as an incredible human with an ability to effect lives and not a work drone in a mundane field of body "fluffing." I disagree that most massage therapists/bodyworkers devalue themselves or are afraid of money or even success. Extreme cases are in all professions; for the purposes of this letter, set those aside.
In my experience it's those clients/patients that need us the very most that canot afford it. If payment had been demanded for all of our services and I taught my students to demand payment, that would be wrong! Yet, I would be monetarily thousands of dollars richer in cash. Yet, at what ultimate price would I have had to pay for such?
This is a healing-art profession; we are neither hairdressers nor car mechanics -- both wonderful fields, yet not the same. We are the tools that enable others to "heal" themselves in a triad of ways: body, spirit, mind. It is my divine gift to be able to work in this field. The inability to "share" or "give" free touch is more of an issue than the worthiness of the receipt of payment for it.
I have worked and felt, at times, like I had lost my ethical soul in several extremely high-end Houston "conveyor belt" spas, that charge clients an hourly rate for 50 to 55 minutes, give them some herbal tea and a promise for a brighter day. Really, the most ethical thing to do is to assist clients in a longer session that tackles the problem; explain the reasons for them to be aware of how to modify their actions/behavior to enhance each day of their life; or, in many cases, refer them to a specialist, such as a chiropractor or medical doctor -- not focus on "washing instructions for that fancy terry robe" that came with their spa visit or sell them some "magic cream" to make it all go away till next time; moreover, in my experience it's the "spa employers" that treat each therapist like a lower-class citizen and not appreciate the "gift" they have as a part of their intuition. That really knocks down even the healthiest spirit of a therapist.
Do not get me wrong, my hourly rates are higher than the average massage therapist, and justly so, due to my years of experience and education. As the sole-proprietor of my business, every day is a profit or loss. Just put it into perrspective of life: every moment is priceless; use each one for the "higher good," and abundance is yours! I practice bodywork to create such happiness and peace for others in our world.
What do we receive in compensation for these "freebies?" It's called "Karma," and each day it comes back to me, so make a mental note in your check register. Each day of my life, I am thankful and privileged to "touch others" for my bounty of health, family and prosperity.
I will never regret my "free" hours of "touching the lives" of the terminally ill hospital patients and families, AIDS clients, breast cancer survivors, war veterans, nursing home residents, newborn babies or burned children, animals and laid-off Enron employees. These bodies riddled with disease, disfigured through physical or emotional trauma and tortured by neglect are the most valuable of my clients.
Most importantly, it is a privilege to be there for them, and I never, never told a soul or promoted these "good deeds" for monetary gain from them or other clients. It is my gift to receive them into my life as a reminder of my own abundance in all aspects.
So who is receiving more? Think on that. I am thankful that my check register is filled with notes in black ink and sometime numbers in red. It's not the measure of the bottom line...behold the "Brass ring" that I hold.
Sheri Wood-Rogers RMT, MTI
More From the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy
The following letter is in response to Cliff Korn's April 2004 editorial concerning rule changes to the massage licensing law in North Carolina (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/04/11.html).
Read a letter from the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy's legal counsel in the June 2004 issue at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/06/12.html, and Mr. Korn's comments regarding the letter in his June 2004 editorial at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/06/09.html.
As the former Vice-Chair of the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy (Board) and former chair of the board's School Approval Committee, I am responding to your editorial in the April issue of Massage Today. From my perspective, the article is inflammatory, inaccurate, and poorly researched. That you would receive information from an "individual" who suggested you "take a peek at the rules" and then choose to publish an article without bothering to confirm or verify facts demonstrates irresponsible journalism. I question what agenda and whose agenda you are attempting to convey to your readers.
First, let me state that I am not a current recipient of your publication. I was given the article when I attended the Spring conference of the North Carolina Chapter of AMTA (AMTA-NC) held recently in New Bern on March 26-28. Copies of your editorial along with copies of the draft of proposed rule changes by the board were provided to the chapter membership. I was concerned that your editorial comments were presented as factual, along with comments by the leadership of this organization, about the negative impact of these rule changes on the practice of massage in the state. Your editorial was touted as proof of this fact.
This was the first time I had attended an AMTA-NC conference. As the program director for the Therapeutic Massage Program at Pitt Community College in Greenville, NC, I had taken a group of my students to the conference as a way to introduce them to a "professional organization." Imagine the surprise of new students to see an article on the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy presented in such a negative light, especially when their instructor was a former member. They were confused about what to think. It left them with negative impressions of the North Carolina board, before they had any experience with this regulatory agency.
I would agree with your statement in paragraph 4, of your editorial: you did provide a "brief analysis." I would also add from my opinion it was inadequate. For your information, North Carolina is the only state with massage regulations that do not have another state governmental agency administering some part of the licensing process for schools of massage and bodywork therapy. This responsibility used to be the domain of the North Carolina Department of Community Colleges (NCCCS).
When the North Carolina Massage and Bodywork Practice Act (our massage law) was written, it was assumed by the authors that the NCCCS would continue the licensing of massage and bodywork schools and the massage board would approve school curricula and instructional staff. After the Practice Act was passed, and the board was appointed, it was discovered that, due to state regulations, the NCCCS no longer had the statutory authority to license massage and bodywork therapy schools.
For the board, this meant it had to bear the full responsibility for creating and administering a comprehensive school approval process. As a former member of this agency, I can attest to the fact that the board had never imagined that it would be forced into the regulation arena without adequate funding or staff to administer such a program. As you may know, approving a school on paper is not the same as verifying compliance with all standards. As a result of this, the board formed a School Approval Committee, which I chaired.
For your information and enlightenment, there were no "former school owners" on this committee. Besides myself, the committee was made up of the board's public member (an attorney who is the current board chair, and who has taught in the state university system), and another therapist member of the board with years of practical and teaching experience. We all have advanced degrees. As a foundation for our research, we examined educational standards from the NCCCS, Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), as well as other state regulations. At that time I was maintaining my own private practice. I cannot speak for the other members of my committee, but I spent countless hours researching these processes and during that time reduced my practice to four days per week so that I could provide a service to my profession and contribute to the professionalism in the field.
Furthermore to insinuate that a "proprietary school owner" spearheaded the increase in school fees to drive small schools and the community colleges out of the massage education business is just plain irresponsible and complete nonsense. The fees that the board has collected to administer the program are about 25 percent of the actual costs. Without funding from the legislature, (which is precluded under our Practice Act) or another agency to administer the licensing process, the funding would have to come from the regulated group: the schools themselves.
There are several other issues in your article that I would like to address:
Candace C. Frye, MA, LMBT
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