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Massage Today
January, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 01

FSMTB Questions Article, Columnist Whitney Lowe Responds

By Editorial Staff

Dear Editor:

I write to correct some misinformation that appeared in the November, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 11 edition of Massage Today in the article authored by Whitney Lowe.

Specifically, it is not correct that the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) questions the need for continuing education for massage therapists. On the contrary, like Mr. Lowe, the FSMTB acknowledges a need to continuously enhance the knowledge and skills of the massage professional. The FSMTB posits that this is the primary role of membership and voluntary certification organizations. Therefore, the FSMTB recommends that professional enhancement and extended continuing education be encouraged and voluntarily attained at the discretion of the therapist, and that this continuing education be acceptable, but not mandated, for licensure renewal.

The purpose of initial licensing is to determine the minimum acceptable level of knowledge and skill to ensure that the therapist is sufficiently competent to provide safe and effective massage after entry level training. To require more than the minimum acceptable level of competence for licensure renewal would set a more rigorous standard for renewing therapists who not only hold the same license as initial licensees, but who also have typically gained experience.

In addition, the regulatory community does not differentiate between massage practices of relaxation and wellness enhancement and those practices that view massage as a healthcare modality. Roughly half of the licensing states regulate massage as a healthcare profession and the other half as a service profession. The broad umbrella of regulation serves to allow greater flexibility for the various modalities and philosophies encompassed in this profession for licensure purposes; however, mandating that all therapists take continuing education in massage for the healthcare industry is neither practical nor necessary. In fact, the research evidence in the Massage Therapy Job Task Analysis indicates that at entry level, i.e., the level for licensure, there is no significant difference in practice between therapists in the spa, medical, or alternative medical settings.

The FSMTB recently created standardized licensure renewal recommendations which can be viewed on its website at under the "What's New" section or at:

The FSMTB appreciates the opportunity to engage in discussion regarding continuing professional competence and thanks Massage Today for featuring this topic. We are also deeply appreciative of the contributions made by Whitney Lowe regarding this important issue and hope that this information serves to inform ongoing conversations.

Debra A. Persinger, PhD
Executive Director, Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards

Whitney Lowe Responds

To the Editor:

Thank you very much for your attention to addressing these serious concerns about continuing education requirements that were mentioned in my article. I appreciate Debra Persinger's statement of the FSMTB stance on continuing education. However, I would not characterize my original statement in the article as misinformation. I will clarify my point in saying that the FSMTB is questioning the need for continuing education for licensure renewal.

I recognize that the FSMTB is saying there is value in CE, but it is also true that their proposal is questioning the need for continuing education to be mandatory for licensure renewal. At the current time, continuing education is mandatory for licensure renewal in most states. The new FSMTB proposal suggests that continuing education would no longer be mandatory. To me, that is questioning the need for continuing education (for licensure renewal).

In addition, Ms. Persinger states: "…mandating that all therapists take continuing education in massage for the healthcare industry is neither practical nor necessary." I would agree with this statement, but also point out that this is not the current situation. Continuing education courses currently cover a very wide group of subjects, and certainly are not limited to topics related to massage as a healthcare approach.

Whitney Lowe


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