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Massage Today
April 10, 2006

AMTA California Chapter Hosts Annual Convention

More than 300 massage therapists from across California gathered at the Costa Mesa Hilton to learn, share and renew friendships at the 2006 AMTA-CA annual convention March 22-26.

California massage therapists could obtain continuing education credits through a variety of workshops, including "CranioSacral Therapy" by Carol McLellan from the Upledger Institute, "Introduction to Prenatal Massage" by Val Guin and "Body Mechanics for Therapists" by Irene Diamond.

Other workshop topics included "Reflexology," "Degriefing for Bodyworkers," and "Ethics." The chapter also held its business meeting where it accepted reports and nominations of officers. The keynote address was delivered by businessman, management and personnel trainer, speaker, author and consultant David Corbin.

Arguably one of the most important meetings of the conference was the government relations meeting conducted by Chris Voltarel, government relations co-chair, and Beverly May. The meeting began with a briefing on the history of state licensing in California. The presentation was politically educational on the dynamics of how a two-year bill gets routed and passed. Voltarel and May, a pioneer in attempting to attain California state regulation for massage therapy for over 17 years, explained how 2005 was a definite step in the right direction. Most important, the meeting included an update on where everyone stands in the process. Questions were posed on the makeup of the board intended to regulate the licensing pre-emption and educational requirements. For the bill to establish a voluntary, statewide certification program for massage, the educational requirements for therapists would have to be consistent between state and city regulations. This could prove to be difficult, but May and Voltarel explained the need to get a foot in the door because "the fear of loss is greater than desire of gain."

May and Voltarel also discussed a few recent hurdles the bill is facing, with the hottest issues being the language defining the word "massage therapist." The language used to describe a massage therapist's scope of practice is still being negotiated by chiropractors and physical therapists. They also addressed the pressing issue of educational requirements of the bill and spoke of an ongoing compromise between educational groups and massage organizations that have come to the agreement on a two-tiered system.

Currently, the bill has moved through the Senate and the Assembly Business and Professions Committee; however it's unlikely to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee until this summer. May explained that this delay might be in the best interests of the therapist, because there still are a few issues to be worked out to ensure its support before it continues to progress. There was a sense of unity expressed as individuals began to let go of certain ideals in order to keep the bill intact. Most therapists agree that, even with a sacrifice of certain ideals and opinions, "it's better to have something than nothing."

One new change to this year's convention was the addition of a job fair for local massage therapy students, to give them an opportunity to take part in this event and to learn more about what the massage therapy profession has to offer.

The exhibit hall contained a number of vendors including Bon Vital, Bio Freeze, the Upledger Institute, Biotone and the American Massage Council. In total, 29 vendors spent time offering attendees a chance for some retail therapy.

Next year's California Massage and Bodywork Convention will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose from March 29 through April 1. For more information about the 2006 convention as well as next year's gathering, visit


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