State Massage Board Alliance

News Note

By Darren Buford

Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, August/September 2005.

In May, with Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) serving as catalyst and conveyor, a group of state board representatives, educators, and industry stakeholders convened in Denver, Colo., to address the potential formation of an alliance of state massage boards as well as the development of a new entry-level examination for prospective massage licensees. Calling itself the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, the group focused on how participants could help existing massage boards maximize their potential and advance the cost-effectiveness and timeliness of practitioner qualification. Some of the topics discussed included improving consistency in licensing requirements in different states and how such consistency may foster better reciprocity and portability.

Another proximate cause for holding this meeting was growing frustration some participants expressed with aspects of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) testing process, as well as various concerns over its business practices and status as gatekeeper into the massage therapy profession through the National Certification Exam (NCE). Federation participants determined that an alternative to the NCE may help establish options for potential massage therapists and bodyworkers, keep costs down, and speed up the testing process, thus increasing the momentum toward entrepreneurship and chances of success for entrants into the profession.

Participants acknowledged a federation of state massage boards might also provide political clout in future regulation issues, as the current system does not allow for massage board stakeholders to have a voice in legislative matters.

Rick Rosen (Body Therapy Institute, N.C.) and Patty Glenn (Oregon Board of Massage Therapists) will serve as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the new interim board, which also includes Arnold Askew (Alabama Board of Massage Therapy), Kathleen Egenes (New Mexico Massage Therapy Board), Kathy Jensen (Iowa Massage Therapy Board), Michael Jordan (Oregon Board of Massage), Christine Kiely (New Hampshire Advisory Board of Massage Therapy), Daisy Millett (North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy), and Dave Quiring (Florida Board of Massage Therapy).

A second meeting is scheduled for September 21–22 in Albuquerque, N.M., at which time development of a mission statement, purpose, bylaws, and charter will be discussed with a broader cross-section of state representatives and massage educators.

One note: A previous attempt at creating an alliance in 1999 failed because of a lack of financial backing and administrative support. ABMP has agreed to provide the initial seed money and staff support to launch the new federation, but there was general consensus that additional funding from other local, state, and national organizations and associations will also be sought.