News Brief: AMTA Board of Directors Disbands Council of Schools

By Editorial Staff
September 23, 2009

News Brief: AMTA Board of Directors Disbands Council of Schools

By Editorial Staff
September 23, 2009

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Council of Schools (COS) has faced strong criticism from its own association this year. After months of evaluation, the association's Governance Committee recommended the AMTA board of directors (BOD) vote to remove sections of the bylaws that refer to the COS, effectively dissolving the COS as an AMTA organization. And on Sept. 22 at the AMTA BOD meeting, board members made a unanimous vote to end the 27-year relationship with the Council of Schools, effective Oct. 1, 2009. While the relationship ends abruptly, mutual concerns over incompatibility between the two entities had been growing.

AMTA Recommendation

Earlier this year, the AMTA charged the AMTA/COS Workgroup of the Governance Committee with "[researching and exploring] the COS infrastructure and how COS fits into AMTA infrastructure/culture," according to a June 2009 AMTA notice to its members. The workgroup recommended removing two sections of the AMTA bylaws: Section 5 "Membership in Council of Schools" of Article III which states, "Any school joining as a School member is a member of the AMTA Council of Schools," and Section 2 "Council of Schools" of Article IX, which lists the name, purpose and membership clauses of the COS. The workgroup's reasons for removing the council include:

  • aspects of AMTA governing documents currently contribute to confusion in the AMTA/COS relationship;
  • the current COS structure is not in line with other council structures; and
  • other membership categories of AMTA do not have a council.

The workgroup also suggested that the Planning Committee "consider establishing a standing committee for schools as part of its annual volunteer workforce review."

While the board voted in favor of the recommendation to end the council, plans to develop an AMTA standing committee are still in discussion.

Council Initiates Independence

For decades the Council of Schools had worked with the AMTA toward a common goal to "support excellence and innovation in massage therapy education and inspire new educational methods, models, and programs." Founded in 1982, the COS was an independent forum for massage therapy school owners, administrators, and faculty to communicate. While independent, the council worked closely with the AMTA, as it was the largest massage association of that time. And in 1999, the COS made the choice to officially become the AMTA Council of Schools with hopes to expand and become more effective for the massage profession as a whole. Since then, the council has expanded from a 55-member school council to a 480-member school council.

In late January at the COS annual meeting and leadership conference, COS members expressed a desire to retain independence from the AMTA, stating concerns of member schools being underserved and council members as ineffective under the AMTA control. In that meeting, a motion was made to establish the COS as an independent nonprofit organization. The motion made by council member Iris Burman was adopted by a majority vote of the member schools.

New Educational Organization Emerges

Soon after this motion was made, a new educational organization was in the works. Recently launched, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education is an independent educational organization comprised of a six-member leadership team including Iris Burman, Su Bibik, Stan Dawson, Eugenie Newton, Rick Rosen and Pete Whitridge. Still in its developmental stages, the Alliance will be a nonprofit organization designed to serve as the independent voice and advocate for the entire education sector.

According to its Web site, the Alliance will create "an administrative home in the Washington, DC area, conducting a membership recruitment campaign, and planning for the initial organizational meeting in 2010." For more information on the Alliance, visit their Web site

Massage Today will continue following this story, posting information as available.