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Massage Today
October, 2015, Vol. 15, Issue 10

First Educational Congress a Success

Leaders chart a path for the future of massage therapy education.

By Kathryn Feather, Senior Associate Editor

Massage therapy education has proven to be a challenging landscape. Declining enrollments, school closures, federal aid money issues, varying hour requirements and differences in curriculum have fueled debates over the last several years.

The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) and the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) recently joined forces to host the first Educational Congress, July 23-25 in Minneapolis to discuss solutions to the many challenges facing the massage therapy education today.

The Congress provided an environment where the more than 200 school owners, educators, staff and massage therapy businesses could discuss and address solutions to the issues facing massage education. The AFMTE has long been committed to overhauling massage education and launched the National Teacher Education Standards Project several years ago to propose core competencies for massage educators. These core competencies include leaner development and well-being, the differences and integrative approaches, different leaning environments, content knowledge, application of content, instruction planning, strategies and delivery, observation and assessment, professional development and ethical conduct and collaboration.

Among the many discussions was the impact of franchises on the profession and the recent U.S. Department of Education regulations that eventually led to some for-profit massage schools closing their doors (see "Investigations Force Corinthian to See, Close Campuses," Massage Today, Aug. 2014 and "For-Profit Chain Schools Find Themselves Under the Gun," Massage Today, Nov. 2014). And the professions leading organizations were all a part of the discussion. Several organizations provided updates about the current state of their projects including the AFMTE, COMTA, the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA), The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF), The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork and the Society for Oncology Massage.

AFMTE logo - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The AFMTE, BioFreeze and Bon Vital awarded CE Provider Ariana Vincent and Teacher Juliebeth Mezzy the 2015 Educator of the Year Awards. Educational Congress speakers included David Lauterstein who addressed "The Destiny of Massage Therapy," Sandy Fritz who shared "Teach Yourself to be a Teacher," Linda Derick who discussed "Redesigning Curriculum: Touch Education for Our Changing World," Susan Salvo and the "21st Century Classroom and Virginia Cowen who shared "Secondary Data Analysis: An Untapped Resource for Massage Research." Other educational sessions included Reinventing the Lecture by Ann Williams; Research and Evidence Informed Practice: Bringing the Big Picture into the Classroom and Clinic by Whitney Lowe, Martha Menard and Jerrilyn Cambron; Writing Great Exam Questions by Mary O'Reilly; Mobile Solutions to Everyday Needs by Jeffrey S. Harmon; Education Research in Massage: How Can We Move it Forward by Martha Menard; The Science and Soul of Teaching by David Lauterstein; Student Outcomes: A Conversation for Establishing Best Practices by Dr. Tony Mirando and Creating Exciting Social Media Content by Stephanie Beck.

The next Educational Congress will be held in Tucson, Arizona in July 2017. To view several videos about the various Congress sessions, click here. For information about the AFMTE and the advantages of being a member, visit


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