About Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) serves the massage, bodywork and somatic therapy
professions. ABMP is a professional membership association devoted to promoting
ethical practices, fostering acceptance of the professions and protecting the rights of
legitimate massage, and bodywork practitioners. (Massage therapy is used throughout this site
to describe the whole of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies.) ABMP competes effectively for members by
providing the best value and most responsive, knowledgeable service. Our business
philosophy is summed up by our credo: expect more.
Why We're Here
Massage rapidly gains converts and social acceptance each year and is now a therapeutic
leader in the burgeoning field of alternative therapies. More than 300,000 trained
therapists provide massage and bodywork in the United States. More than 1,400 state-approved schools provide massage
and bodywork training. Though a growing number of therapists
work in spas, salons, health clubs and chiropractic and medical offices, a majority still
are independent proprietors.
In 1987, ABMP was founded by Sherri Williamson to provide massage and bodywork
practitioners with an effective service organization. Started out of her home,
ABMP outgrew three different offices in six years. In April 1996, ABMP was sold
to a group of four people who now comprise the core of the company's management
team. In 2011, more than 79,000 practitioners belong to ABMP.
We were not the first massage membership association in the United States. Indeed,
we began a full 44 years after the industry's first professional organization, the
American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), was founded. AMTA's worthwhile focus
during the past 10 years has been the recognition of massage therapy by the medical
profession, opening the door to respect for practitioners and eligibility for
reimbursement by health insurance companies.
Why We Are Different
There was a market need among practitioners for wider acceptance and support of a
broader array of massage, bodywork and somatic modalities — to keep abreast of new
theory and practice ideas, to learn how to market their services, to build working
relationships with professionals in allied fields and to protect their investment
in training by having appropriate liability insurance protection. Partly because
leaders of some of the newer modalities saw their specialty as not fitting under
the traditional massage banner, ABMP, in its early years, took positions opposing
the creation of new state licensing standards and questioning the value of practitioner
certification in the context of particular standards, procedures and fee structures
being proposed. ABMP was, however, consistently encouraging to schools working to
upgrade their curricula.
Additionally, a need was felt among the practitioner community to have its concerns
addressed as part-time service providers. For many years, AMTA tried to keep focused
on practitioners occupied full time in their field, believing that image was important
to gaining acceptance in the medical profession, even though most of the members did
not fit that full-time profile. (The majority of U.S. practitioners — and even of AMTA members— devote fewer than
20 hours a week to massage. Many have other part-time work, creating a unique set of
needs in promoting and conducting their businesses.) By contrast, ABMP, from its
beginning, worked to promote respect for all massage therapists regardless of their
respective choice of working hours or form of practice.
ABMP also works to support the diversity of massage and bodywork, encouraging acceptance
of massage by other healthcare practitioners, while remembering that massage is about ‘heart
and art' as well as science. We advocate choice — for individuals selecting training
institutions, for schools designing curriculum and deciding whether to seek accreditation
and from whom, for practitioners in shaping their practice parameters, and for consumers
in having a wide variety of practitioners from whom to select a therapist matching their
needs and preferences.
ABMP Grows to Largest Membership Association for Massage/Bodywork Professionals
Despite our 44-year later start, ABMP has grown to more than 80,000 members and now
is the country's largest massage membership organization. We believe our membership
growth reflects our ability to connect with member needs and to quickly develop high-quality
products and services that meet those needs.
Also a promising sign — 57 percent of respondents answered "ABMP"when asked, "Which
association best serves the interests of its membership and the profession?"(The
second-place association received only 15 percent of the votes — June 2001 poll
conducted by Massage Today
). Though more recent independent polls have not been taken,
it's a reasonable presumption ABMP's more rapid membership growth than AMTA's in the
subsequent years reflects a continuing perceived difference.
With the emergence of a growing spa industry and its partnering of skin care services
with massage therapy, an increasing number of our members are becoming dual-licensed.
ABMP is accommodating their needs by also offering insurance for skin care professionals.
The result is peace of mind for professionals with multiple talents.
Leadership continuity, quick decision-making, a strong service ethic, an appealing
lack of bureaucracy and an attitude of openness to new ideas and somatic modalities
allow ABMP to live up to its "expect more"promise. Some prime examples:
Responsive Committed Staff
It is our staff members who animate our beliefs and commitment, who actually deliver
prompt, responsive service to each member. ABMP has been fortunate to attract a warm,
enthusiastic staff that embraces service to our members and enjoys working in the
foothills community of Golden, Colo. We pledge to our members that they will talk
with a real person or receive a callback within an hour from someone 90 percent of
the time they call our toll-free number during normal business hours.
Customer Service is our Reason for Being
From the first day they join ABMP, staff members are apprised of the high standards
they are expected to meet in working with our customers — ABMP members. As part of
their orientation, they are briefed on the importance of handling member concerns
and questions competently, quickly, respectfully and with pride. Teamwork is an
important part of the ABMP culture, and we actively solicit ideas from staff on how
we can do better in serving our customers and working productively together. In this
sense, we believe our culture matches the essential nature of the profession we serve —
high-touch, positive and humane.
ABMP is owned directly by 24 individuals, each of whom works (or has worked) for the organization, and indirectly by all other staff members, who are afforded an opportunity to own shares of ABMP after completing a base period of service.
Lean Centralized Operation
We believe our lean organizational form offers advantages in being able to make decisions
quickly, to be within earshot of our members at all times and to respond aggressively to
an opportunity or a challenge to the profession.
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