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Massage Today
April, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 04

We Get Letters & E-mail

By Editorial Staff

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be edited for space and clarity, and published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to .

Teaching Basics

Dear Editor:

Just wanted to say how very much I enjoy reading the articles [by Rita Woods]. The debut article in January was one that I related to on a personal level. Then came the next two articles and the timing couldn't have been more perfect, as I am new to teaching. It has helped. I look forward to more articles.

Sincerely,

Jackie L. Lander, LMT
Illinois


Why We Don't Need Government Regulation of Massage

Dear Editor:

I support the letter by Kay Gustin, LMT in the Feb. 2008 issue saying that we do not need state government regulating the business of massage. I am a massage therapist with a business in Wasilla, Alaska, a state which does not have any state licensing regulations for massage. We recognize that massage is a healing art that has been practiced for thousands of years and has been handed down from elders to grandparents to parents and to their children.

Most of our cities in Alaska are Native American (First Peoples), so massage is a part of their heritage and traditional medical practice. For a central government thousands of miles away to require us all to take 500 hours of formal training in a school thousands of miles away from our homes and villages would insult our elders. Is their careful teaching worth nothing? Furthermore, this is a ridiculous proposition for us economically. Licensing regulations serve private schools and other special-interest profit motives rather than the interest of our people. Many states, and even the municipalities of Anchorage and Fairbanks, require a GED to study massage and to secure the required license to practice massage therapy. Fortunately, most of the state of Alaska does not require this. What does having a high school diploma or GED have to do with massage except throw up a made-up hurdle to prevent competition in the market?

Kay Gustin is keenly perceptive when she points out that chiropractors have been state regulated and licensed for more than 50 years, but that this has not brought respect down upon them from most medical professionals. Indeed, respect must be gained on the merits of one's work.

Although, the municipalities of Anchorage and Fairbanks are unique in Alaska for having licensure requirements, they allow apprenticeship instead of schooling. However, these municipalities are under intense pressure from special interests to reverse this wise alternative. I think apprenticeships in a hands-on profession such as massage therapy are the only way to gain the skill and knowledge actually required to do the job.

But, it is quite important for massage therapists trained in apprenticeships to learn to work together with western medical professionals in a mutually beneficial partnership. This partnership will help bring respect to our profession, which government licensure regulation can never do. No hourly or yearly requirements on apprenticeships should be imposed, since a signature of an elder qualified to teach massage stating that a student is ready to practice is sufficient. Lobbyists for special interests stand in the way of such sensible alternatives in the interest of money in states where massage therapy is regulated.

Some therapists who support state licensure of massage believe that by fabricating hurdles making it difficult for people to get licensed, they will make more money. This anti-competitive behavior prevents many skillful and talented massage therapists, trained by their elders, from competing in a fair marketplace and it literally takes food from their tables. This evil practice should be acknowledged and stopped. One way to counter this constant lobby from these special interests is for us to write our state representatives to not support state licensure of massage therapy in states where this has not yet been imposed, and to reverse state licensure in licensed states, because this is a waste of our tax money.

Special interests will argue, "We need licensure regulation and national certification minimum requirements to protect the public from harm." Have you ever heard of a case of an unlicensed massage therapist who has injured the public by massage? That malpractice insurance is available to massage therapists for less than $100 per year proves the very low risk of injury from massage. Clearly, the public does not need any protection by government from massage therapists! Some argue that regulation will stop unethical behavior or blue-massage. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork publishes a list of page after page of licensed massage therapists whose certification has been revoked or suspended for unethical behavior in their practice of massage.

As Kay Gustin points out, state regulation has not stopped prostitution in massage. Therapeutic touch is often confused with sexual touch by most people in the United States, because most people in our society suffer from severe touch deprivation (see article by Daniel N. Russell, "Touch-Starvation: Severe Cost; Simple Cure," Alaska Wellness, Nov/Dec 2003, p 32-33). This confusion can be overcome and eliminated in part by education as Kay Gustin suggests, but this is not enough. We, as a society, also need to satisfy our human need for touch in positive and nurturing ways. Enlightenment is required at this time of violence in our culture.

Our government relies on a free market to solve problems in any market, and to ferret out bad practitioners in every business practice. Good massage therapists will, naturally, seek education and put those who do not provide positive results out of business. We should allow our free market to work to provide us with the best therapy, rather than support "Bolshevik" state licensure bureaucracies.

Sincerely,

Daniel Russell, MS, LMT, NCTMB
Willow, Alaska

 

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