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Massage Today
April, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 04

Entry-Level Analysis Project Publishes Report

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

In March 2012, the Coalition of Natioanl Massage Therapy Organizations initiated the Entry-Level Analysis Project (ELAP) with the goals of "defining the knowledge and skill components of entry-level education and recommend the minimum number of hours schools schould teach to prepare graducates for safe and competent practice in the massage profession."

After 21 months of collaboration and more than 500 pages later, the ELAP working group has issued two reports: "The Core: Entry-Level Analysis Project Report" (Final Report) and "The Core: Entry-Level Massage Education Blueprint" (The Blueprint).

Member organizations who are part of the Coalition include: the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, the American Massage Therapy Association, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, the Massage Therapy Foundation and the National Certification Board for Therapeutuitic Massage and Bodywork.

In a statement released after publication of these reports, the Coalition explained that two concerns were at the top of the list in the early stages of the ELAP process, which they cited as "inconsistent quality, depth and focus of entry-level massage therapy education and a lack of licensure portability (professional mobility)." The initial objective of the group was to "identify and gain agreement on what should be core elements of entry-level massage therapy instructional programs - the knowledge and skills an entrant to the profession should possess to be ready to work safely and competently with clients."

the core - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark And so a seven person working group was formed to address these concerns. Group members included Pat Archer, Clint Chandler, Rick Garbowski, Tom Lochhaas, Jim O'Hara, Cynthia Ribeiro and Ann Williams. According to the Coalition statement, "the ELAP process illuminated some predictable strengths in massage education, but also some wide ranging knowledge and skill gaps." The statement also says that "neither the Coalition nor its constituent organizations endorse every specific recommended sub-topic, activity or propsed weighting in the report." The group found that approximately 625 classroom hours of "capable instruction" would be necessary for students to acquire the core skills.

That number of 625 falls close to the average for most massage regulated states. Most regulated states now require 500 total educational hours, while others require more than the 625 recommended. The Coaltiion does "encourage interested parties to focus less upon the total hours and more on recommended subject matter and sub topics. It is vital to understand what The Core is not - it is not a complete massage school curriculum. The contents of this report are seen as the core - the foundational knowledge and skills every beginning massage therapist should possess - that should be part of every entry-level massage instructional program, but not the entirety."

The Coalition hopes this report will influence several professional groups within the massage profession. For the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, the Coalition hopes they will "use The Core as it builds guidelines for a model practice act." They also hope state licensing boards will use "The Core in setting education requirements for licensees.

The Coalition hopes the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education will "refer to The Core in creating teacher training standards and curricula and that the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork will use "The Core as it identifies beginning vs. advanced knowledge and skills for its Board Certified credential."

The Coalition believes that the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation can use "The Core in evaluating massage and bodywork curricula for programmatic accreditation" and that "schools owners, admimninistrators and faculty can use The Core to strengthen or validate curricula and to adopt consistent learning outcomes."

"We believe that the efforts of work group members have resulted in an extraordinary, ground breaking body of work. Their Blueprint, and the underlying process described in the report, gains strength from its intellectual integrity and independence."

Both reports are available for download at


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