resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
The Heart Protector
On the physical level, the Pericardium is a double-layered sac of fibrous tissue that envelops the Heart. The space between the layers is filled with serous fluid that protects the Heart from external shock or trauma and lubricates to allow for normal Heart movement.
The Tao of Gender
If you think gender is as simple as having a new client check off the "male" or "female" box on your intake form, we hope this article will expand your understanding and thus the reach of your health care.
Managing Patient Expectations About Acupuncture
Last year, I attended the Pacific Symposium in San Diego for the first time in six or seven years. It was the 25th anniversary of this event, and on one evening there was a panel discussion with the title; "What is Qi?."
The Wonders of Light Therapy: An Interview with Wes Burwell
I first met Wes Burwell in 2011 when he was teaching a class on light. Since then, every time I hear him speak, his understanding of the benefits, function and capacity of light has evolved.
Talking to Patients About Healthy Aging
I've noticed that a particular category of patients seems to make up more and more of my practice – they work out, but still experience lots of degenerative joint disease (DJD) issues.
To The Finish Line With the Help of TCM
When acupuncturist Eddy De Smedt pursued a career in Traditional Chinese Medicine, he knew he wanted to make a difference.
Pulse Diagnosis: What We Know
I am still finding pearls of wisdom from the books and papers that I inherited from my pulse diagnosis mentor Jim Ramholz.
5 Ways to Occupy Occupational Health
Despite the progress that has been made to better protect workers, occupational health and safety remains a priority area for many national governmental organizations due to the widespread problem of occupationally related morbidity and mortality.
Saying No to Medicine
An interesting article recently appeared in Men's Journal titled "When to Say No to Your Doctor." The article begins with the summary statement above and effectively arms readers with information that will help them "take more responsibility for your own health care, because you can't be sure anyone else is.
Simple Ways To Find True Happiness
Patients in our clinics are always seeking happiness. As their health advocate, we need to ensure we inform them that in order to find happiness, they have to make sure to identify what makes them happy in the first place.
Blaming the Gluteus Medius, Overlooking the Deltoid
The gluteus medius (Gmed) is commonly written about, strengthened and blamed for many conditions, and rightfully so. After all, the Gmed plays a role in pelvic stability, hip motor control and lower-quarter dynamic movements.
Jingei Diagnosis: An Effective and Powerful Diagnostic
I graduated from the Kotatama Institute under the direction of Drs. Masahilo and Katsuharu Nakazono in 1984. As a student, I was exposed to the practice of most of the various theories and modalites of Oriental Medicine.
Lime Jello on Morphine
Taste is in the eyes... actually the mouth... of the beholder. My food preferences have changed, lightening from the food of my youth. My parents loved heavy eastern European cuisine and I loved it as a child. Now I enjoy leaner, healthier whole foods.
Help Patients Achieve Optimal Vitamin D Levels
Much research has been done on vitamin D levels and their impact on health; optimal levels have been correlated with a reduced risk of developing numerous conditions.
AOMA Strengthens Leadership Team
AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, a leading college of acupuncture & herbal medicine, announced the appointment of Donna LaPoint Hurta, MBA as the new VP of Finance & Operations this Fall.
Understanding and Identifying Pediatric Growth-Plate Fractures
In general, fractures in children heal well with little intervention as long as the alignment is good. Fractures involving the growth plate, however, are a different issue. In fact, growth-plate injuries are the primary reason for the subspecialty of pediatric orthopedics.
Web Marketing: Content Is King
Google's sweeping updates to its search algorithms over the past few years have brought a paradigm shift in how you can optimize your chiropractic website to gain maximum marketing leverage.
Healing With TCM at San Quentin State Prison
For the prisoners at San Quentin State Prison, life-sentences are the reality of every day life. It is not often that prisoners get the opportunity to use alternative medicine to deal with common ailments they encounter behind bars such as, depression, anxiety and pain.
Calcium Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer
Over the past 25 to 30 years, studies have suggested calcium may confer protection against colorectal cancer.
Transparency and Accountability: Q&A With the CCE
Every profession needs an organization dedicated to upholding the quality and integrity of its degree programs and educational institutions.
The X Factor in Clinical Research: The Patient
It was the great baseball legend, former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra – he of countless aphorisms, each with a mind-bending twist – who once declared, "You can observe a lot by watching."
December, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 12
An Accreditation Quagmire
By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB
In September, Massage Today featured an article concerning the Department of Education's approval of the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) to accredit massage programs in post secondary schools (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/09/01.html).
Two years ago, when NACCAS was still petitioning for approval as a massage accrediting entity, I wrote an editorial expressing my generally negative opinions (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2002/11/11.html).
Since this month's issue features several "point-counterpoint" pieces on accreditation in general (see front page), I revisited some of my thoughts.I hope you read these articles carefully because they express some poignant but divergent thoughts on this complex issue that will impact the future of massage therapy as we know it.
Two years ago I wrote, "I am all for ubiquitous accreditation of massage schools. I think it would solve a multitude of sins, including easing the job of massage therapy regulation and reverting national certification to the voluntary credential it was designed to provide. However, I do think massage school accreditation should have a programmatic theme, with massage therapy taught by massage therapists as a core requirement."
While I still agree with that statement in theory, I now question the practicality of seeing it happen in the near term.
In keeping with "theory," I submit that the quality of education and ultimate competence of a graduating massage therapist should not be affected by the accrediting body. If approved by the Department of Education, one must assume that the same standards are applied to the approval of one entity as to all. Since a standard is a constant against which all models are judged, it makes no logical sense that one accrediting entity should provide superior criteria to the commonly accepted ones of a competitor. If this theory could be proven true, it then would make no difference at all who accredits as long as the standards remain constant.
Thus, it seems to me that the correct question for now is not the "who" of accreditation, but the "why" of accreditation. In the world of academia a degree from an unaccredited institution is less than worthless. (The term "match book diploma" is used to show the disdain. I'm sure you get as much spam as I do from purveyors of "degrees by mail," who promise you can be an ND, PhD, or other postgraduate-degreed person by submitting life experience and a healthy check.)
Massage therapy has never traditionally required a degree, however, and therefore falls out of the academic realm; it has historically fit into the craft or trade school model. Massage therapy has also shown itself to be a profession where one can succeed through mentoring and apprenticeship. This longstanding route into the field is still used and is one of the primary reasons that the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) has a portfolio review process as an alternate method of determining eligibility. If there was an accreditation requirement for every massage-education program, it is doubtful that this portfolio review process would remain a method of determining equivalency to massage school graduation.
So what, then, are the pros and cons of mandated massage school accreditation? Who has the potential to benefit and who doesn't? Certainly, massage therapists relocating to other states could benefit. I feel it is highly likely that ubiquitous accreditation would enable ease of license reciprocity from state to state. Massage boards would know that the transcript a candidate for licensure had from a distant state was equivalent to a transcript from the home state. The massage boards themselves could also benefit, as they wouldn't have to generate their own educational eligibility criteria or use criteria developed by NCBTMB, NCCAOM, or other outside credentialing bodies. It is likely that those who employ massage therapists might also benefit.
The largest single massage therapist employer group is the spa industry, which is forced to spend large amounts of time and money training massage therapists to integrate into spa therapists. As ubiquitous accreditation would frequently increase the hours of massage education needed to graduate, it is most likely that more schools would have additional curriculum elements to fulfill those needs. An argument for the public benefit is that the basic knowledge of therapists everywhere would be similar; therefore, equivalent levels of care would be available equally all over the country.
The potential exists for the schools to benefit from accreditation as they would become a much more significant force in the industry. Their impact and voice could approach the power that accredited chiropractic and naturopathic colleges now have in the realm of integrated health and wellness. Finally, the accrediting bodies themselves would certainly benefit, as that is how they generate their longevity and cash flow.
Opposing arguments also abound. Individual therapists may be adversely affected by having to pay more money to enter the profession, as costs to attend an accredited school could be higher. Schools have the potential to see reduced enrollments due to the higher tuitions they would likely need to charge to cover costs of added curricula and more stringent teacher criteria.
The professional massage associations could lose clout as the voices of accrediting bodies and schools overtake their influence. The NCBTMB would potentially lose its desirability as a front-end hurdle for state licensure. The public could theoretically lose as the tougher entry requirements into the field may actually reduce the number of therapists available to choose from.
So, for me, the jury is out on the overall benefit of ubiquitous massage school accreditation. Logic tells me that accreditation makes education better. I have had that logic bubble punctured by a recent discussion with a good friend and school owner who, at the tip of his tongue, was able to generate a long list of examples why accreditation does not always mean enhanced education or a better school. They were not knee-jerk responses to a perceived threat, but thought-out, concrete examples of accredited institutions that regularly turn out less-qualified therapists than other schools, and ones who have not had their educational ability affected other than to increase their costs. I heard his arguments and agree with his examples but still feel that industry-wide we would have better educated therapists if accreditation were the norm.
I ponder the paradigm shift that would evidence itself though, due to the higher costs. Fewer people would likely take advantage of massage as a part-time opportunity to make additional income from home-based businesses. I don't need to check the surveys and studies to know that a significant portion of working therapists do not use massage as their primary income source. Would one impact of ubiquitous accreditation be that the demographics of the profession would shift to only careerists? Would that be good or bad? Hmmmm...
At present I support massage schools going for accreditation, but I'm pretty pleased that it is a voluntary process.
What do you think?
Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters related to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or via regular mail to:
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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