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Massage Today
November, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 11

AMTA Convention Sets Precedent for Years to Come

By Christie Bondurant

Downtown Phoenix welcomed this year's American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) national convention at the Phoenix Convention Center, Sept. 17-20. The four-day event included exciting giveaways, donations and a record number of exhibitors, setting the precedent for AMTA conventions for years to come.

At the start of the convention, AMTA President M.K. Brennan presented Massage Therapy Foundation President, Diana Thompson, with a symbolic $494,229 check representing the AMTA's record 2008 support for the foundation. "Since our inception in 1990, the Massage Therapy Foundation has benefited greatly from AMTA's generous and reliable support," said Thompson. "We are honored and grateful to have them as a major partner in our journey to serve our mission - to advance the knowledge and practice of massage therapy by supporting scientific research, education, and community service."

The association also honored convention keynote speaker Judith Aston, creator of Aston-Patterning, with its Distinguished Service award in recognition of her contributions to the profession and 40-year service as a member of the AMTA.

The more than 1,200 attendees were provided with educational training workshops on a variety of topics including current research, techniques, special populations, legal issues, business/ethics and health care. Massage Today columnist Dr. Ben Benjamin discussed common injuries, ethics and communication, while the Upledger Institute provided an overview of CranioSacral Therapy and lymph drainage therapy.

The AMTA House of Delegates debated proposals for position statements, approving three as official positions of the association. Statements are developed and submitted by members according to specific guidelines and criteria, and then presented to the House of Delegates during its meeting at the annual convention. This year's approved position statements read as follows:

  • It is the position of the AMTA that newborns (especially pre-term infants) may benefit from massage therapy.
  • It is the position of the AMTA that massage has been shown to aid in postoperative pain relief.
  • It is the position of the AMTA that massage therapy can be a valuable component of a wellness program. 

A record number of exhibitors (114) attended the 2008 convention, offering information, products and services for massage therapists. The Massage Warehouse, a Scrip Company, in partnership with Bon Vital, Performance Health, Soothing Touch, TH Stone, Unique Skincare and Massage Envy, was back with its "Sanctuary," and raised more than $4,000 - with all proceeds donated to the Massage Therapy Foundation.

Convention-goers buzzed with excitement at this year's Massage Today raffle, held for the first time on two consecutive days. Participants entered the raffles on Friday and Saturday by simply submitting their name and wearing their free "Have You Had Your Massage Today" T-shirt at the time of the drawing. As has become the tradition, David Kent of Kent Health Systems, MC'd the drawings and had the estimated 900 participants clapping and shouting in unison.

Raffle winners received nearly $2,000 in cash and prizes. Massage therapists Debra Kerwin and Christie Beattie each walked away with $500. Other winners received an NRG Chi table with bolster, NRG Grasshopper chair and an Oakworks rolling stool, worth more than $500, all donated by Massage Warehouse. Convention exhibitors including China Gel, Amber Products, Soothing Touch, Compassionate Touch, Biofreeze and Massage Warehouse also donated an estimated $400 worth of products for raffle participants.

The 2009 AMTA national convention will be held in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 23-26. For more information on the convention, please visit


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