resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Knee Pain From the Kinetic Chain
As practitioners of manual medicine, chiropractors often treat patients suffering from knee pain.
Fibromyalgia: Put the Pain in Its Place
While some fibromyalgia patients respond favorably to regular chiropractic care, others experience minimal relief. Unfortunately, many of these patients must rely on pharmacological management to relieve their constant pain.
Coding for the Subluxation: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10
When I attended chiropractic school, I was taught that chiropractors approach health care differently than the traditional medical establishment.
Remembering Clarence Gonstead and 50 Years of the Gonstead Clinic
Dr. Clarence Selmer Gonstead (1898-1978) took chiropractic practice from back-alley bone setting to an understandable biomechanical science. His life was dedicated to clinical competency.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
Physical Exam 101: The Hands
I am sure you are familiar with the old adage: "When the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."
A Guide for Talking to Doctors about Acupuncture and Brain Chemistry
Before I begin any discussion of how to talk about the effects of acupuncture on brain chemistry, nervous and endocrine function, it is essential to understand just what physicians most need help with.
By the Numbers: 3 Common Financial Mistakes With Major Consequences
Warren Buffett is on record for sharing the hidden art of becoming wealthy and making it simple enough for anyone to grasp.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
Immunizations by Colorado DCs: Really?
You probably didn't hear about it, but back on Nov. 21, 2013, the Board of Directors of the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA) adopted "immunization authority" for Colorado DCs as its No. 2 legislative goal.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Why You Should Include the Single-Leg Stance Test in Every Patient Assessment
The single-leg stance (SLS) test, also known as the single-limb stance test, unipedal stance test or one-legged stance / balance test, is often used in the geriatric population to assess static postural and balance control.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Curbing Label Overwhelm
For the average consumer, reading a food package can be overwhelming: natural, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, free range ... you get the picture.
Are You a Bad Chiropractic Patient?
My father was a great DC. In fact, as you might expect, he was the doctor of chiropractic I measured all other doctors against. Sadly, he died at age 61 when I was in my early 30s.
Vaccines and Chiropractic: Evidence-Based Medicine or Medical Dogma?
Right or wrong, the chiropractic profession has historically been against vaccinations. However, a growing trend within the profession is seeking to reverse this position.
July, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 07
Moving Massage Therapy Toward a Brighter Future
By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB
Exciting things are happening in our profession of massage. I am more positive about the profession's future than I have been in many years. We are being included in the development of the new Integrative Healthcare Paradigm largely through the work of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Healthcare (ACCAHC – "The Consortium").The Massage Therapy Foundation is representing massage at international research conferences and promoting massage research. Both of these organizations deserve our support. Many of our stakeholder organizations are stepping up and moving us toward being accepted as a real profession. I want to share more of the good things that are happening with you and point out some problems that will hold us back from reaching our potential, while making some constructive suggestions. In the spirit of full disclosure, while I am on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, I am not speaking for the Board. All opinions in this column are my own.
So, let's start about a year ago when the youngest stakeholder organization in our profession, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (Alliance) published a position paper recommending a change in focus for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). The paper proposed that NCBTMB let go of its entry-level certification and testing program and replace it with a voluntary post-graduate certification credential that would follow mandatory state licensure. This new and upgraded program was suggested as an alternative to the so-called "advanced" certification program that NCBTMB was promoting. For its part, the Alliance took a lot of heat for having the audacity to "tell other organizations what to do."
Then, in mid-March, NCBTMB took us all by surprise by announcing that lo and behold, it will sunset the National Certification program in 2013, and replace it with a new post-graduate credential called Board Certification (with specialty certifications to follow). Kudos to NCB's leadership for finally being able to break out of an operating model that was heading off the cliff, but also kudos to the Alliance for planting the seeds and advocating a bold position for the future welfare of the whole profession.
Time for Teacher Standards
Separate from all of that, the Alliance has proposed the single most important step needed in the advancement of our profession – the development of standards for massage teachers. The National Teacher Education Standards Project (TESP) is a five-phase plan that will establish core competencies for massage therapy teachers, along with model teacher-training curricula, training resources and ultimately, certification programs. Phase one of the TESP, The Core Competencies for Massage Therapy Teachers, has just been released for public comment and input.
Once again, the Alliance is ahead of the curve in putting forth a project of this nature. It is an ambitious, long-term effort, estimated to take five to ten years. The goal of this effort is to create a culture of teaching excellence in our field with the downstream result of therapists being able to deliver a better massage to the public.
The nursing profession went through a similar process many years ago and there are additional excellent model(s) to draw from. The massage profession must begin the training of our teacher corps, turning them into true educators, rather than simply therapists with a textbook publisher's lesson plan in hand. Just because a therapist can give a good massage does not mean they have the knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSA's) to effectively teach beginning massage therapists. It will take time, but it will be worth it. If you are a massage educator and want to be on the cutting edge of massage education, check out the Alliance website www.afmte.org to become involved in this process. In a national survey conducted by the Alliance, 80.4% of respondents agreed that competency-based teacher training standards are needed in the massage profession. Only 6.8% disagreed. The time has come.
Massage students are only as good as the quality of instruction they receive. Better instructors make better therapists. The only way to elevate our profession to the status it deserves, and that most of you desire it to have, is to improve the knowledge and skill level of our teachers. If you are a massage instructor, view this as an opportunity to improve your teaching skills. We can all get even better than we are now – right? The standards will be phased in over time in a supportive way. Our entire industry needs to support this endeavor, as nothing else can do more to get the public higher quality massage than developing and implementing a teacher standards program. Just as we are what we eat, a profession is what its practitioners have been taught.
The Storm Clouds
However, the two largest stakeholders – our major membership organizations – have set out on a wayward mission to standardize the hours required for licensure and to come up with a learning objectives map for entry-level massage programs, the "ELAP." PLEASE – don't just do something!
The number of hours required for licensure are currently completely meaningless quantities. They are dartboard numbers that have been picked out of convenience to school operators or for accessing Federal Student Aid. Standardizing the country on an arbitrary number of clock hours will not magically improve competency or portability. There is simply no data that shows the public is getting a safer massage from graduates of a 1000-hour program as opposed to a 500-hour program. One thousand poorly taught hours will not produce a better therapist than 500 poorly taught hours. In fact, it may produce a worse therapist with more substandard habits and lack of awareness, burned out and broke. The number of clock hours that will eventually be nailed to the wall by the ELAP, if it is allowed to proceed, as the "evidence-based" standard will be completely meaningless if we cannot assure that at least 90% of entry-level program graduates can give a massage of satisfactory scope and quality. What we need are curricula with academic integrity, not just some arbitrary number of hours and a few learning objectives.
Further, clock hours are an unsound way to specify an educational program. We need to move to an academic credit-hour system, like every other healthcare profession. We must move to an educational system based on competencies, which includes assessment of student performance at each level of their training. COMTA has had a competency-based curriculum standard for more than a decade, yet our major stakeholders are off to re-invent the wheel. Why not use COMTA's existing program, updated with the MTBOK, now with its re-mapped KSAs? (More brilliant work done by the Alliance.)
Besides, job task analyses (JTA's) (the ELAP is to be based on a new JTA being done for the MBLEx), while psychometrically valid and legally defensible, measure what people who are not necessarily successful and who do not know what they do not know, think others should know to be successful. They primarily serve to dumb a profession down, especially as its level of competency decreases. New JTA's only lower the floor. It is time our profession comes up to a competency standard developed by successful experts, not down to a price or worse, to a continually lower common denominator.
The "license portability" promised by this ELAP project will likely not happen, as there are many other factors besides hours in laws and rules that affect portability. Supporting model legislation by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) is the best way to achieve portability. Besides, portability is not the burning issue nor essential for the development and improvement of a profession.
A "Kneaded" Idea
Come-on stakeholder leaders, don't waste our dues dollars on another ivory tower task force whose report will be thrown on the pile with all the others. It is time to support:
If you really want to do something constructive, help us dramatically modify or put the ineffective modular program format out to pasture for good. And for extra credit, how about developing and implementing reasonable admissions standards instituted in every school that offers a massage program? We should not be throwing our doors open to the academically inept, and/or ethically challenged (like felons) guaranteeing failures, loan defaults, and future ethics complaints.
This approach is the most efficient way for massage therapy to achieve its potential with both the public and the arising integrative medicine-healthcare community – both of whom are waiting for us to elevate ourselves to a true alternative healthcare profession. Will we step-up and meet their expectations? More importantly, will we decide to live up to the potential our profession has to offer the public?
Think about it. If you care, get involved.
Click here for more information about Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB.
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