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Massage Today
November, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 11

Notable Stuff in the Massage World

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

This month I'm providing my take on some notable things that occurred in the massage world in the past few weeks: The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) hired a new executive director, the legislature in California decided to kill a bill to license massage, and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) now has a personnel vacancy.

First, the FSMTB has taken several large steps to put itself on solid operational ground.

After announcing recently a contract with Pearson VUE, one of the world's top organizations in professional and regulatory testing, the FSMTB solidified its position even further by hiring Debra Persinger, PhD, as executive director. Debra has enjoyed a long and fruitful history in examination development and also has much experience in the Asian bodywork therapy field. Born in New Zealand, she attended Kansas State University, earning a PhD in human services. Dr. Persinger joined the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) in 1996, as director of examination development. More recently, she served as the NCCAOM's executive director of operations and as interim chief executive officer. I hope to report on the FSMTB's annual meeting in a future issue of Massage Today.

Next, California massage therapists will continue to be regulated by a hodge-podge of confusing local ordinances instead of consistent statewide regulation for the foreseeable future. As has been reported in these pages for quite some time, the efforts to license massage therapy in California have been fraught with dissention for years. My personal experience is that state legislatures are not likely to take action on issues if it is apparent there is dissention in front of them. I find it amazing that it was not the dissention among massage therapists that seems to have killed the licensing bill in California, but an outside group entirely. For all the work, e-mail and letter-writing campaigns of the anti-licensing massage professionals, it apparently is the strong lobbying efforts of the California Chiropractic Association (CCA) that leaves many therapists still paying for multiple city licenses, and dealing with STD blood tests and finger printing designed to monitor adult businesses.

I have no idea why the CCA took the turf protection stance it did or, for that matter, why its voice was so loud in the California legislature, but I would guess its officers have a serious lack of professional esteem. They must not realize the synergy of their osseous adjustments with the soft-tissue manipulations of trained massage therapists. They must also feel their member chiropractors are not skilled enough, or their technique not efficacious enough, to compete on an equal footing with massage therapy. They probably forgot the not-so-distant past, when their own efforts to obtain professional regulation and recognition were beaten down by the medical profession, which called them quacks and worse. Instead of trying to help another manual therapy profession with its own efforts, the California chiropractors have chosen to emulate their own detractors. In contrast, the Florida Chiropractic Association (FCA) actually runs programs of continuing education for LMTs in Florida, and names a "Licensed Massage Therapist of the Year" at its annual convention. Go figure!

Finally, the most perplexing item I will talk about this month is the departure of John Page as executive director of the NCBTMB. On the job only 15 months, John was instrumental in implementing the change in the management company and a physical move from the NCBTMB's old McLean, Va., headquarters to its new location with hired staff in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. On Aug. 29, I received an e-mail communication from John that stated, in part, "Effective immediately I am no longer responsible for any actions of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, Inc." On Aug. 30, Massage Today received an NCBTMB press release confirming John's e-mail, saying in part, "The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) wishes to inform you that effective close of business August 25th, John Page no longer serves as the organization's Executive Director."

A few things hit me about these communications. The no longer responsible for the actions of phrase indicates to me, rightly or wrongly, that an unfortunate breakdown in trust occurred over the 15 months. The NCBTMB rapidly began a search for a new executive director. John Page was one of the only NCBTMB staff members I had ever met who did not get overly defensive about the frequent complaints that the organization is unresponsive to the profession. He appeared to take the criticism for what it was and try to make changes to improve both communications and responsiveness. I hope he finds a new position that welcomes his skills. It's also my sincere hope that the NCBTMB finds an equally skilled executive director quickly. It's an organization with much positive impact on our profession and they, as well as we, deserve no less than competent leadership.

Thanks for listening!

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 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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