resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
First Do No Harm?
There's no questioning the frightening nature of breast cancer, which strikes one in eight women in the U.S. – eclipsed only by skin cancer in terms of prevalence.
A Poor Choice for Pain Relief
Acetaminophen is the most popular pain reliever in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 27 billion annual doses as of 2009. With 100,000-plus hospital visits a year by users, it's also the most likely to be taken inappropriately.
Reducing the Autogenic Inhibition Reflex: Making Weak Muscles Strong
The autogenic inhibition (AI) reflex is a sudden relaxation of a muscle in response to excess tension.
Leg-Length Inequality and Pelvic Fixation: A New Approach to the Negative Derifield (Part 2)
As we noted in our previous article, with a positive Derifield (+D), the doctor observes the reactive (shorter) leg in the prone position that becomes longer or "crosses over" in the flexed position.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Spieth Thanks His Chiropractor After Historic Masters Win
Jordan Spieth didn't just capture the hearts of golf enthusiasts worldwide with his record-setting, wire-to-wire victory at the 79th Masters Tournament.
Professional Credentialing and Board Certification: An Ethical Faux Pas
Because of the Affordable Care Act, health care systems are coordinating care through accountable care organizations (ACOs) in order to reduce the cost of care and improve quality of care.
We Get Letters & Email
A House Divided? (May 1 issue) provoked significant response from readers. Here are several of the surprisingly similar comments we received.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Green Tea Improves Cognitive Function in Elderly Subjects
Publishing their results in the journal Nutrients in May 2014, researchers showed that drinking the equivalent of 2-4 cups of brewed green tea (or bottled tea) daily improved cognitive function or reduced the progression of cognitive dysfunction in elderly subjects.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Rethinking Musculoskeletal Pain – A Public Health Perspective
The American Public Health Association (APHA) is the world's oldest and largest association of its kind, founded more than 140 years ago and boasting over 25,000 members.
ACA or ICA: Which Best Represents You?
Last June, I was honored to represent Texas ICA members as their representative assemblyman at the ICA Annual Meeting in Kansas City.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Giving Vets the Care They Deserve
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the largest integrated health care system in the United States.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
March, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 03
Education Where Does Advanced Begin?
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
I primarily spend my time as a continuing education provider for the profession of "Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork." To be approved by our national certification board (NCBTMB), a continuing education course must be "based on continued competence and enables the certificant to build on their knowledge, skills and abilities." That sounds great.However, there is a problem. What knowledge, skills and abilities do all massage therapists have? Too broad of a question? OK then what knowledge, skills and abilities do all massage therapists certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork have?
How can a course be developed to continue the education of a therapist when there is no definition or standard of what entry-level education is? What techniques, muscles and bony landmarks do all schools teach? What can you count on every massage therapist to know? Where does advanced training begin? Sadly, as much as I love to teach advanced techniques, I continually must teach the difference between effleurage and deep friction; that deep friction is a technique, not how hard you press, because it can be done quite lightly. The majority of therapists don't know correct body mechanics, such as how to stand and how to align the thumbs to prevent injury. Not one therapist in a recent class I presented could accurately palpate the quadratus lumborum. Three participants were instructors at the host school. Everyone in the class was a licensed therapist, a graduate from a COMTA accredited school, and had passed the NCETMB.
It's not that I mind teaching these things. I am delighted to teach whatever is needed to help therapists more effectively help more people. However, it would be nice to get beyond thumb alignment being continuing education someday. Until then, I will, of course, continue to bring therapists up to speed on body mechanics and palpatory skills that should be taught in massage school as I teach the advanced techniques.
It might be said that NCBTMB has defined entry-level education from the results of their job task analysis surveys. However, those definitions include many techniques peripheral to massage. A therapist can pass the exam by getting all the esoteric questions correct and not know much anatomy. The body of knowledge covered by the NCE is so vast and varied it can only be tested superficially. Further, it can only be taught superficially. No massage school can teach it all, in any depth, in 500 hours.
When the national certification program was expanded (during its creation) to include everything for everyone, it became nothing for anyone. But, it's legally defensible. So, we are back to the question: What can you reasonably assume all massage therapists know when you are creating a continuing education course? Sadly, the answer is nothing. You cannot assume everyone knows deep friction from effleurage (basic massage strokes). You have no idea what muscles a particular therapist knows how to palpate accurately. There is no common working posture taught universally, and some schools teach none at all. Some entry-level programs get all jacked up and teach NMT or other advanced techniques without teaching the foundational basics like strokes, body mechanics, anatomy and palpatory skills. As a result, they grind out undertrained, overconfident graduates, most of which flounder until failure in one to three years. Schools have created a perpetual motion machine because a rapidly expanding profession can never be staffed when there is this high of a dropout rate. Students typically model the values, awareness and vision of their instructors. Until we can find a way to improve the level of the typical instructor in the typical massage school, it will be difficult to improve the quality and longevity of the entry-level therapist. Of course, there are great instructors and great schools, but they are the exception, not the norm. This is true in any profession, but in our case the norm is very low. The norm has to be raised.
The massage school community needs to let go of, among other things, the vague anatomy standard based on hours, and agree that an entry-level therapist will know a defined list of terminology, contraindications, muscles (O.I.A.), bones, bony landmarks, working postures and massage techniques. Everyone must know the list to graduate and to become licensed or join a professional membership organization and get the beloved insurance policy. We don't have to go overboard. The list doesn't have to be that long - after all, it's entry-level - but it needs to be established and enforced. Of course, a school could teach more depending on its program. The public needs to be able to count on the fact that all massage therapists at least know a common body of knowledge and terminology. So do physicians, those Gods of Allopathy we so desperately seek referrals from. This might help us get more.
I am not about to propose the list myself. It's not the place of one person to do so. It should be the assignment for a group like the Council of Schools or some other body of professional massage educators to hammer it out. Does this mean I am advocating standardized education? Yes, but only to the degree that all students learn a core body of knowledge. Beyond that, every school could do its own thing. Think there is any chance this might happen?
Sadly, I do not see any chance in the current system, but I have high hopes for the new Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards and the licensing exam they are considering helping to bring a better-defined entry level. As a great spiritual teacher once said regarding a seemingly impossible situation, "There is always hope."
In my last column, I shared some information on aspartame and its potential relationship to cancer. Now there is more. It seems mixing aspartame with monosodium glutamate (MSG) causes nerve cell damage, especially in developing nervous systems. The dosage a child might get in a drink or junk food snack can interfere with nerve signaling systems and can actually stop nerve cell growth. Learn more at www.organicconsumers.org/toxic/msg010306.cfm.
The organic food system is under attack and is being co-opted by petrochemical-based agri-business. Your help is needed. This same site can fill you in if you care to know. Quality food is the necessary foundation for physical health, just as quality thought is basic for energetic health. Our access to quality organic food must be defended for the sake of our children and the eco-system of the world. Don't wait - it may soon be too late.
Stubborn sternocleidomastoid muscles can sometimes be convinced to relax by working the sternalis and the upper half of rectus abdominis. Want more? Let me know. Oh, and please send me your favorite therapy tip or trick so I can share it with others so we can all help more people. Send it to .
See you about May Day with another basket of goodies.
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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