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Massage Today
January, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 01

Heart on the Bottom Line

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB

Happy New Year! I have observed with fascination and wonder as our professional associations have willingly given away huge chunks of massage therapists' traditional scope of practice. Most professions have associations that hire lawyers and lobbyists to fight tooth and nail to expand their scope of practice.

Not ours. We give up more and more every year. Look at the state massage laws passed by our associations in the last few years. We have given up traction, stretching, exercise and joint mobilization, and saddled ourselves with establishment licenses in some states. No other health care providers have to obtain establishment licenses. Why are we doing this to ourselves? At times, I've surmised it was just desperation to get some law, any law passed. That coupled with ignorance of the professional regulation "game."

In collusion with our associations, when it comes to giving up scope of practice are the majority of our schools. Not all schools of course. There are a few good ones left, and you know who you are so do not take offense. I have lamented this sad situation before. However, I have never been able to understand why our associations and schools are giving up the rightful, historical scope of our profession. Finally, while lost deep in nature in Massachusetts during an extended teaching tour this past fall, the truth was revealed to me. It is so simple and obvious, yet so sad.

It's in the financial interests of schools to give up and dilute as much of our scope or practice as possible. The less they have to teach, the less it costs them. Just teach the simple, basic stuff. Sadly, we have set a lowest common denominator with national certification and licensing exams, and all schools need to do is "teach to the tests". Thus in legislation battles, it's easy for the opposition to say something is not in our scope as it's not taught in entry-level programs, even though it's being very thoroughly taught in our continuing-education courses. So, they turn on continuing-education instructors and try to suppress and restrict them from teaching the advanced work and/or restrict therapists' ability to perform it even if they know it. As sad as it is, I can understand the schools' part in this. It's simply the easiest way out and makes them the most profit.

But why the associations? Why are they not working to increase our opportunities to help the public by fighting to expand our scope? This is the big revelation: They are insurance vendors. They make their money from the insurance they provide their members. The less scope they have to insure, the more money they can make and the less claims they might have to defend. It's in their interest to give up scope, especially any advanced work. The less we can do, the better for our insurance vendors. The less they have to teach, the better for our schools.

The two groups that historically lead a profession to greater scope of practice, less restrictive regulation and higher levels of income are leading the massage profession in the opposite direction. Maybe it's not quite as malicious as it seems. Maybe it is just that they are not aware of the full potential of soft-tissue therapy and the historic scope of practice of massage. The effect is the same. They are depriving the public the potential of soft-tissue care and limiting the opportunities and incomes of massage professionals. This is what we get when the heart is on the bottom line. Anybody care? We pay an incredible price for ignorance. On a positive note, Florida should be our national model. Their licensing law gives them a great scope of practice and it hasn't yet been dismantled by the tyranny of the minorities or political correctness.

I cannot wait to read the reactions and outcries from the schools and association to this column. Pay no attention to what they so righteously will say. Look objectively at what they're doing. What are the measurable outcomes? Follow the money trail. What economic incentive do they have to expand our scope? When threatened, how hard have they fought to maintain it, let alone expand it? Never believe what politicians and sales/marketing/media people say. Only believe what they do. Actions speak louder than words.

We get so emotional. We want to believe so badly in some principle, group or politician that we only hear or read words that support our beliefs, and seldom compare words to actions. You can hope all you want but you will eventually find it is a poor strategy to accomplish anything. When you find yourself desperately wanting to believe something, stop and check it out. We pay a huge price for ignorance.

Alternative Health Care News: Flu

The good flu news is they cannot force people to be vaccinated if they don't have the mercury-laced vaccine to inject. I would much rather battle the flu than mercury poisoning. If you don't know the symptoms, you should look them up, especially if you consume high-fructose corn syrup and get vaccinated for the flu. You don't want mercury in your body.

In its attempt to prevent you from being well and avoiding the flu, the FDA is attacking any source for alternative information. Dr Andrew Weil was warned to change his Web site because he was offering an immune-boosting supplement. Read the FDA letter here:

It's frightening how hostile our "new" government is becoming toward alternative health care and health in general. Its new appointees are working to dilute all organic standards. See: It's going to be a long, bleak winter, especially politically. I will be back on a more positive note in March. Bring your kites!

Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCBTMB.


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