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Massage Today
August, 2005, Vol. 05, Issue 08

COMTA Questions AMTA's Knowledge Initiative Methods

By Editorial Staff

In March, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) hosted a meeting to discuss developing baseline massage therapy education standards, where it was ultimately determined that no comprehensive scope of practice or consistent body of knowledge needed to practice massage therapy currently exists (News in Brief, June 2005.

www.massagetoday.com/archives/2005/06/14.html). As a result, the AMTA announced it would "serve as the catalyst for a larger industry meeting designed to develop a plan for the creation of a massage therapy body of knowledge, to include core terminology, scope of practice and baseline competencies." The project has since become known as the ATMA Professional Knowledge Initiative.

Following the March meeting, the AMTA issued a motion to establish guidelines in relation to the development of the Knowledge Initiative. Among several points listed in the motion, three key points included the following: 1) "Schools are graduating unevenly trained massage therapists," 2) "There is no consensus about education standards within the profession," and 3) "There is no thorough, comprehensive scope of practice for the field. Body of Knowledge is not consistent or articulated." The motion also states that the "AMTA, in collaboration with key stakeholders, will provide resources necessary to support this initiative," and lists several "Guiding Principles" that specify, among other things, that an initial meeting consisting of key stakeholders should take place by Aug. 2005; that such stakeholders will formulate the project team and include the AMTA, AMTA practitioners and school members, the NCBTMB, COMTA and the Massage Therapy Foundation; and that the project team will report its findings related to the timeframe, process and estimated costs by Sept. 2005.

In May, COMTA issued a press release in response to AMTA's motion in which it respectfully declined AMTA's invitation to participate in the Knowledge Initiative meeting, citing several concerns: "Although we applaud AMTA's Professional Knowledge Initiative, COMTA cannot participate for the following reasons: 1) AMTA is excluding key stakeholders from the meeting, thereby potentially further fragmenting a field the AMTA itself sees as without a center, 2) developing a comprehensive statement of knowledge areas and levels of expertise is not something that can be done by August or September 2005 if a thoughtful and participative process is to be engaged in, and 3) AMTA's coordination of the event; it may be perceived that ATMA will control the event in light of the exclusion of several key parties."

COMTA's press release further indicated it supports the inclusion of all key stakeholders in the Knowledge Initiative meeting and that there exists a need "to better define who those stakeholders are. If all relevant stakeholders are not invited to the table, no common ground will be found," the release continued. "If the allied but independent agencies (all of which are born of AMTA) are assumed to have some role in developing competencies for the profession and are included as relevant stakeholders, the unspoken assumption is that these organizations will support AMTA's view of the profession...and serve as a rubber stamp for any AMTA-driven outcome of this meeting."

When asked for its response to COMTA's concerns, AMTA President Mary Beth Braun issued the following statement, "The meeting and subsequent correspondence provided initial input from key stakeholders (e.g. NCBTMB, Massage Therapy Foundation, and COMTA). We are using that information to research more fully how the broader discussion can move forward. We will continue to seek the input of these stakeholders and others to help determine our next steps in this area. We also will make this information available to key stakeholders when the broader dialog takes shape. We can't speak for COMTA, but understand their perspectives on their level of involvement in this process."

Massage Today will report on the AMTA's Professional Knowledge Initiative as updates become available.

 

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