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Does "AMTA" stand for "Arrogant Massage Therapy Association?"

AMTA sent out the following email to Illinois members bashing ABMP:


Friday, April 15, 2011

Urgent Call to Action

Call Your Illinois House Representatives TODAY!

Ask Them to Support SB 153

SB 153 (Extends the Massage Licensing Act, or ?MLA?) passed in the Senate (55-0) on Friday, April 8th, 2011. On Tuesday, April 12th, the bill was assigned to the House Healthcare Licensing Committee and is sponsored by Rep. Angelo ?Skip? Saviano.

To get to this point, The Massage Licensing Board (MLB) met on February 28th for a regularly scheduled open board meeting. All stakeholders in the profession are highly encouraged to attend and the AMTA always has representation at these meetings. Here, the MLB voted unanimously to increase the minimum education requirement for licensure to 750 hours effective January 1, 2016. This does not affect current massage therapy licensees and is only applicable to those entering the profession on January 1, 2016 or later. 

There is now opposition from the Association for Bodyworkers and Massage Professionals (ABMP). ABMP will oppose Senate Amendment #2 which allows for the increase in the minimum hours of education. There was a last-minute effort to oppose SB 153 in the Senate, which failed. Therefore, the ABMP has hired a high-profile and well recognized lobbyist to oppose the bill. 
Please consider that: 

? The MLB and the AMTA Illinois Chapter supports an increase in education as this is the National trend. Currently 14 states exceed the 500 hour requirement. 
? As Illinois licensees, we should respect the mindful deliberation and decision of the MLB as they are the governing body of our profession and, as massage therapists, are best equipped to determine the needs of public protection. 
? The AMTA is a not-for-profit organization with a state chapter structure. The AMTA Illinois chapter fights to protect the rights of the licensed massage therapist, fair practice rights and the profession. Our chapter, and it?s volunteers, has a distinguished history of being invested and engaged in the profession and guiding it forward. The ABMP is a for-profit organization located in Colorado that, until now, has not participated in this state legislative process or other issues impacting your profession. It is ABMP staff that has inserted their voice into the governance of Illinois practitioners. 

The AMTA Illinois Chapter supports SB 153 as written in its entirety, which includes the recommendation of the Massage Licensing Board to increase the number of educational hours and which passed the Senate unanimously by the Illinois Senate. 

Therefore, we urge you to take these steps: 



Basically, Illinois licensees have to shut up and just go with what AMTA and the licensing board say, and ABMP, although it is the largest association in the country, should not be involved because they are from Colorado?


Is this the height of arrogance or what?  Who wrote this letter?  Is this for real?  Can someone from AMTA come out and say this is a fake??  



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Comment by Angela Palmier on April 20, 2011 at 2:12pm

Hi Mike,  It was not my intent-nor am I interested in arguing and I will not engage on that level.  I'm very confused by your response.  I'm not reading answers to my question, but rather questions from you and opinions from you.  Understand that I'm trying to be able to determine where we have consensus and then to try and start a productive conversation. I'd like to understand more about your comment "Our present system allows for therapists to advance at their desired pace" and more specifically what you're basing that opinion on.  Personally I do not feel that the present system affords all massage therapists to advance at their desired fact, it would be nearly impossible to do that given the assumption that we all desire different paces.   I do apologize for the delay in responding, I've had quite a lot on my plate today and I always try to gather as many facts so that people can understand that I base questions as well as opinions on what I consider to be informed sources.  We've all got opinions, but they're just that, our opinions. (and that is my opinion lol!)  

Here's a little bit of information along with sources cited that may partially explain where I'm coming from.  Of course you may read these and interpret them in an entirely different way-which is your right.  I'm simply asking for the same level of respect in return, nothing more.


"Physicians integrating CAM therapies into clinical practice face many legal challenges, including the fact that legal rules governing CAM providers and practices are new and evolving in many cases. Laws vary by state, and their application depends on the specific clinical scenario in question. As more evidence accumulates regarding safety and efficacy or lack thereof of specific therapies for given conditions, physicians will find clinical knowledge more abundantly mapped and that the parameters of liability are increasingly clear. Meanwhile, good clinical practice and a working knowledge of major legal rules can help provide physicians with a good measure of legal protection in situations involving integration of CAM providers and therapies in conventional medical practice."


Legal issues in complementary and integrative medicine. A guide for the clinician. Med Clin North Am. 2002 Jan;86(1):185-96. 


"Physicians are increasingly grappling with medical liability issues as complementary and integrative health care practices are made available in conventional medical settings. This article proposes a framework in which physicians can assess potential malpractice liability issues in counseling patients about complementary and integrative therapies. The framework classifies complementary and integrative therapies according to whether the evidence reported in the medical and scientific literature supports both safety and efficacy; supports safety, but evidence regarding efficacy is inconclusive; supports efficacy, but evidence regarding safety is inconclusive; or indicates either serious risk or inefficacy. Clinical examples in each category help guide the clinician on how to counsel patients regarding use of complementary and alternative medical therapies in a given clinical situation. Specific strategies to reduce the risk for potential malpractice liability include the following: 1) determine the clinical risk level; 2) document the literature supporting the therapeutic choice; 3) provide adequate informed consent; 4) continue to monitor the patient conventionally; and 5) for referrals, inquire about the competence of the complementary and alternative medicine provider. This framework provides a basis for clinical decisions involving complementary and integrative care." Potential Physician Malpractice Liability Associated with Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies. Annals of Internal Medicine. 16 April 2002 | Volume 136 Issue 8 | Pages 596-603. 


"Since the late 19th century, state legislatures and professional medical organizations have developed mechanisms to license physicians and other conventional nonphysician providers, establish standards of practice, and protect health care consumers by establishing standardized credentials as markers of competence. The popularity of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies presents new challenges. This article describes the current status of, and central issues in, efforts to create models for health care credentialing of chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, massage therapists, and other CAM practitioners. It also suggests a strategy of CAM provider credentialing for use by physicians, health care administrators, insurance companies, and national professional organizations. The credentialing debate reflects fundamental questions about who determines which providers and therapies will be accepted as safe, effective, appropriate, and reimbursable. More nationally uniform credentialing mechanisms are necessary to ensure high standards of care and more generalizable clinical research. However, the result of more uniform licensure and credentialing may be excessive standardization and a decrease in individualization of services. Thus, increased standardization of credentialing for CAM practitioners may alter CAM practice substantially. Furthermore, even credentialed providers can deliver ineffective therapy. The suggested framework balances the desire to protect the public from dangerous practices against the wish to grant patients access to reasonably safe and effective therapies." Credentialing Complementary and Alternative Medical Providers. Annals of Internal Medicine. 17 December 2002 | Volume 137 Issue 12 | Pages 965-973. 


"Increasing use of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies by patients, health care providers, and institutions has made it imperative that physicians consider their ethical obligations when recommending, tolerating, or proscribing these therapies. The authors present a risk-benefit framework that can be applied to determine the appropriateness of using CAM therapies in various clinical scenarios. The major relevant issues are the severity and acuteness of illness; the curability of the illness by conventional forms of treatment; the degree of invasiveness, associated toxicities, and side effects of the conventional treatment; the availability and quality of evidence of utility and safety of the desired CAM treatment; the level of understanding of risks and benefits of the CAM treatment combined with the patient's knowing and voluntary acceptance of those risks; and the patient's persistence of intention to use CAM therapies. Even in the absence of scientific evidence for CAM therapies, by considering these relevant issues, providers can formulate a plan that is clinically sound, ethically appropriate, and targeted to the unique circumstances of individual patients. Physicians are encouraged to remain engaged in problem-solving with their patients and to attempt to elucidate and clarify the patient's core values and beliefs when counseling about CAM therapies."


Ethical Considerations of Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapies in Conventional Medical Settings. Annals of Internal Medicine. 15 October 2002 | Volume 137 Issue 8 | Pages 660-664 


"Background. Little is known about policies governing the integration of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies and providers. 


Methods. To document emerging approaches in 19 US hospitals regarding credentialing, malpractice liability, and pharmacy policies governing integration of CAM therapies and providers into conventional medical settings, we surveyed 21 academic medical centers and 13 non-academically affiliated hospitals that are nationally visible and are integrating CAM therapies into conventional medical settings. Of the 19 respondents, 11 were tertiary care hospitals, 6 were community hospitals, 1 was a freestanding center associated with a community-based hospital, and 1 was a university-based rehabilitation hospital. 


Results. Institutions had no consistent approach to provider mix and authority within the integrative care team, and minimum requirements for professional liability insurance, informed consent disclosure, and hiring status. Less than a third had a formal (stated) policy concerning dietary supplements; those selling supplements in their pharmacy lacked consistent, evidence-based rationales regarding which products and brands to include or exclude. Although many hospitals confiscated patient supplements on admission, institutions had inconsistent criteria regarding allowance of home supply. 


Conclusions.Hospitals are using heterogeneous approaches to address licensure, credentialing, scope of practice, malpractice liability, and dietary supplement use in developing models of integrative care. The environment creates significant impediments to the delivery of consistent clinical care and multisite evaluations of the safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness (or lack thereof) of CAM therapies (or integrative models) as applied to management of common medical conditions. Consensus policies need to be developed." Emerging Credentialing Practices, Malpractice Liability Policies, and Guidelines Governing Complementary and Alternative Medical Practices and Dietary Supplement Recommendations A Descriptive Study of 19 Integrative Health Care Centers in the United States.Arch Intern Med. 2005;165:289-295. 


"This research documents policies in 39 randomly selected academic medical centers integrating complementary and alternative medical (CAM) services into conventional care. Twenty-three offered CAM services-most commonly, acupuncture, massage, dietary supplements, mind-body therapies, and music therapy. None had written policies concerning credentialing practices or malpractice liability. Only 10 reported a written policy governing use of dietary supplements, although three sold supplements in inpatient formularies, one in the psychiatry department, and five in outpatient pharmacies. Thus, few academic medical centers have sufficiently integrated CAM services into conventional care by developing consensus-written policies governing credentialing, malpractice liability, and dietary supplement use."


Policies pertaining to complementary and alternative medical therapies in a random sample of 39 academic health centers. Altern Ther Health Med. 2005 Jan-Feb;11(1):36-40. 


"Increasing use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies such as chiropractic, massage therapy, and herbal medicine, raises questions about the clinically appropriate use of CAM in pediatrics. Nonjudicious use of CAM therapies may cause either direct harm or, by creating an unwarranted financial and emotional burden, indirect harm. When advising patients concerning CAM therapies, pediatricians face 2 major legal risks: medical malpractice and professional discipline. Pediatricians can incorporate these considerations into advising and clinical decision-making about CAM therapies to address the best interest of the pediatric patient while helping to manage potential liability risk. This article provides a suggested framework, including asking the following questions: (1) Do parents elect to abandon effective care when the child's condition is serious or life-threatening? (2) Will use of the CAM therapy otherwise divert the child from imminently necessary conventional treatment? (3) Are the CAM therapies selected known to be unsafe and/or ineffective? (4) Have the proper parties consented to the use of the CAM therapy? (5) Is the risk-benefit ratio of the proposed CAM therapy acceptable to a reasonable, similarly situated clinician, and does the therapy have at least minority acceptance or support in the medical literature? Such an approach ideally can help guide the pediatrician toward clinical conduct that is clinically responsible, ethically appropriate, and legally defensible."


Complementary Therapies in Pediatrics: A Legal Perspective. PEDIATRICS Vol. 115 No. 3 March 2005, pp. 774-780 (doi:10.1542/peds.2004-1093) 


"Objective. Many pediatricians and parents are beginning to integrate use of complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies with conventional care. This article addresses ethical and policy issues involving parental choices of CAM therapies for their children. 


Methods. We conducted a literature search to assess existing law involving parental choice of CAM therapies for their children. We also selected a convenience sample of 18 states of varying sizes and geographic locations. In each state, we inquired within the Department of Health and Human Services whether staff were aware of (1) any internal policies concerning these issues or (2) any cases in the previous 5 years in which either (a) the state initiated proceedings against parents for using CAM therapies for their children or (b) the department received telephone calls or other information reporting abuse and neglect in this domain. We asked the American Academy of Pediatrics and the leading CAM professional organizations concerning any relevant, reported cases. 


Results. Of the 18 state Departments of Health and Human Services departments surveyed, 6 reported being aware of cases in the previous 5 years. Of 9 reported cases in these 6 states, 3 involved restrictive dietary practices (eg, limiting children variously to a watermelon or raw foods diet), 1 involved dietary supplements, 3 involved children with terminal cancer, and 2 involved religious practices rather than CAM per se. None of the professional organizations surveyed had initiated proceedings or received telephone calls regarding abuse or neglect concerning parental use of CAM therapies. 


Conclusions. Pediatric use of CAM therapies raises complex issues. Clinicians, hospitals, state agencies, courts, and professional organizations may benefit from a policy framework to help guide decision making."


Pediatric use of complementary therapies: ethical and policy choices. Pediatrics. Electronic Pages.2005; 116: e568 - e575. 


"THE INCREASING popularity of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) poses serious challenges for the physician, not the least being the issue of informed consent. Herein, we review the implications of informed consent. Informed consent should include adequate information about the risks and benefits of all treatment options. The information about potential risks, including frequent, nonserious adverse affects as well as infrequent serious complications, is crucial for patients to know. Failure to disclose the availability, benefits, and risks of CAM treatments could give rise to malpractice claims. We discuss the existing US case law and several hypothetical scenarios. The ethical rules physicians follow in conventional care usually can be applied to treatment with CAM. The focus must be on expressing risks clearly, documenting informed consent adequately, and keeping up-to-date with the emerging evidence on CAM." 


Informed Consent in Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161:2288-2292. 


How does the law regulate spiritual and energy healing? Does it regard these practices as "health care" and "medicine" or "religion?" How does the law handle the kinds of potential abuse of power in the relationship between spiritual healer and client? What remedies are available, and what about legal rules governing fraud? How does this compare to the way the law handles misconduct in relationships between provider and patient generally? 


"Although historically, the phenomenon of spiritual healing emerged as a religious practice within the context of specific religious traditions and has traditionally been ascribed only to mystics, saints, and holy persons, in modern times, a variety of spiritual healing practices unconnected with traditional religion have entered mainstream professional health care. These practices are used in a variety of health care professions, from medicine to nursing, dentistry, and other allied health professions. 


"For example, some physicians either collaborate with (or refer to) spiritual healers or use "'healing energy' through touch" without naming a particular style, school, or technique, and a spiritual healing modality known as Therapeutic Touch is part of the curriculum in many nursing schools. Use of caring or healing touch is increasingly described as potentially useful in various health care settings, from acute care, to surgery, to obstetrical nursing practice; and Reiki, a Japanese form of energy healing, has even been used in efforts to help survivors recover from torture. Additionally, spiritual healing services are offered by practitioners of "complementary and alternative" medical (CAM) therapies, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy. For example, some practitioners of acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine will practice qigong, a Chinese system of spiritual healing. Similarly, intuitive use of touch is a central component of chiropractic, and is central to many forms of massage therapy. Overall, at least 50,000 health professionals provide about 120 million sessions of spiritual healing to patients annually. 


"The prevalence of spiritual healing in the provision of health care services receives extensive attention in the Chantilly Report, a 1992 quasi-governmental report to the National Institutes of Health entitled, "Alternative Medicine: Expanding Medical Horizons." The report describes spiritual healing as a collection of different practices centering around spirituality and notions of healing that are used with increasing frequency as part of professional health care, not only in the provision of CAM services, but also within medicine, nursing, and the allied health professions. The report does not offer definitive guidance on ways to sort out differences, if any, between spiritual healing, faith healing, laying on of hands, prayer, intentionality, and related practices, but it does highlight the increasing use of these practices in a variety of health care settings. 


"The practice of spiritual healing in a secular context, within the provision of clinical care, suggests the possibility of regulating spiritual healing as the professional delivery of a health care service. The attached article argues that those who purport to utilize spiritual healing in clinical care within a secular (and frequently medical) context should be--and in fact, are--subject to an array of regulatory controls similar to those imposed on other health care professionals. The article: (1) broadly explores how legal rules regulate spiritual healing as a health care (rather than exclusively religious) practice in the U.S.; (2) conceptualizes the kinds of potential abuse of power in the relationship between spiritual healer and client; and (3) evaluates the extent to which legal rules address--or fail to address--such potential abuse of power in spiritual healing as a professional health care practice."


Cohen MH. Healing at the borderland of medicine and religion: regulating potential abuse of authority by spiritual healers. 18:2 J Law & Relig 2004;373-426. 


Comment by Mike Hinkle on April 20, 2011 at 9:55am
Hi Angela,

Nor should the entire profession have to change to enable a very small portion of it the ability to convince another profession that all are worthy before they hire those few. I believe in research and doubt that after Festival it will be any different. There is room for both under the "massage Therapy" Umbrella! We do not need to change anything. Our present system allows for therapists to advance at their desired pace. Show this demand of doctors and the medical field to me please. I have not seen your proof either. What demand? I hear massage therapists demanding... Not healthcare. Why doesn't"t AMTA ask therapists? Seems most of their info is coming from the census. I ask therapists constantly this question as I travel, network and on social networking. If it"s not enough... Then poll therapists. 500 hours always wins. Entry level should be 500 hours and we"ll just have to disagree about that also. The problems with research are many and issues will be addressed at the conference.
Comment by Angela Palmier on April 20, 2011 at 9:13am

@ Les Sweeney,

First let me say that I LOVE your ability to write.  Even as I read this post, I can envision myself sitting on a living room couch hearing you in person.  Excellent writing skills---and I could use some tips!

I've got a few questions regarding your post and would appreciate a response.  Thanks in advance.

  1. The response to the AMTA-IL notice, according to your post, was sent to IL massage schools.  Was this also sent to the chapter as well as the IL-MLB?  
  2. You also state that the notice "attacked ABMP" for opposing the bill.  I'm sorry, but I just don't see an attack here.  Emmanuel characterized it as "bashing" but I simply don't read the notice that way.  Can you explain what in particular you read here that would indicate an attack?
  3. In my opinion, for what it's worth, I think that your suggesting that the chapter stating that ABMP does nothing for it's members and the profession is more of a personal reaction rather than based in fact.  Of course there are conversations that take place outside of the written communication that I may not be aware of, but I feel in reading this that you're feeling defensive in some way.  As a reminder-and for full disclosure, I am the immediate past president of the chapter and so forgive me if I'm a bit "motherly" when it comes to situations like fact, I'm realizing that as I'm writing this post, I'm feeling as if the AMTA-IL Chapter is being attacked by you and your company.  But that's personal...not I'm over it.
  4. I do applaud and appreciate the fact that you include in your statement to the schools that ABMP had in fact been in communication with the chapter during the bill review process, and were in general agreement with the bill language.  There are many posts in this thread that insinuate the chapter acted without collaborating with you at all.  Thank you for pointing this fact out and including it in your letter.
  5. With regard to the amendment after the initial bill was drafted, as I read the bill--I note that the increase in hours is labeled as "amendment 2"  which would indicate that there was an amendment 1.  I'll need to refer back to the information included in that amendment--and should probably have done so before posting this question, so forgive me..but are you saying that the first amendment did not include information regarding education hours?
  6. Re: "Neither the MLB nor the Chapter could provide a valid justification for the proposed increase in hours; the only evidence cited was that one school’s graduates “could not passing the licensing test;”  ---If ABMP's position is that the MLB nor the Chapter provided a valid justification, then it begs the question why did ABMP not hire a law firm/lobbyist to fight the increases in minimum hours in the other 14 states that require more than 500 hours entry level education---and even as recently as last week, Iowa increased their hours from 500 to 600 with no ABMP opposition that I am aware of?  Did I miss something?  Also, as you've addressed your response to the IL schools, many of which I'm sure are affiliated with your organization, were they included in or surveyed with regard to their thoughts about an increase in hours?  I've noted that quite a few ABMP customers have either posted their disagreement with ABMP's opposition or have discussed it via email/phone call, yet I've not seen opposition from the AMTA-IL Chapter members, in fact the opposite.  I realize that you are under no obligation to survey/include those affiliated with  your organization regarding decisions made, and I recognize how that can be both beneficial and controversial at the same time.  Perhaps this is why the AMTA-IL Chapter has included your organizational structure and location in their communication.  I'm not certain, of course as I am now simply a member, but I know those people very well and I'm sure that following the SOP of the chapter they did plenty of due diligence with the membership.  I also want to say that I do find it very hard to believe---and if it is true, I would be very disappointed to know that "one school's graduates could not pass the licensing test" would be the rationale given by the chapter to increase hours.
  7. "There is no evidence within the field that a minimum educational standard beyond 500 hours is needed; the State of Florida considered a similar increase in 2003 and after analysis determined that an increase in hours beyond the 500-hour standard was unjustified"  I'm sure that you have a very different level of access to information than I, and certainly that would be the case when it comes to Florida, however it is my understanding that no real "analysis" was conducted and that there were several schools who initially opposed increasing hours, which resulted in a "challenge" rather than a law suit.  I'm told that the FLMLB in 2003 determined that the resources needed to dedicate to such a pursuit were substantial, and further, at the end of the day there were only 3-4 schools that were actually still holding the position of not increasing hours.  Of course, I could be wrong, but the fact that there are so many people standing on the state of Florida's situation back in 2003 seems to be a bit flawed to me.  So many changes have occurred in the massage therapy profession in the past 8 years and I suspect that as our profession continues to grow, many more changes will have occurred by the time the Illinois bill would go into effect in 2016, should it pass.  I'm not sure how I can learn more about the decision in Florida 8 years ago, but based on what I can find doing the little research that I've done so far..."unjustified" could simply mean that resources were not available, more information was needed, etc., rather than it did not make sense.  Columbus was told several times that funding a trip around the world to prove that his hypothesis about the world being round was unjustified, until he did it.  Perhaps this is something we should consider.
  8. "The recognized educational standard for ABMP, AMTA, and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is 500 hours"  This is true, however we all know that standards change, particularly when it comes to education--especially when it comes to education.  Too bad the United States Department of Education along with their state superintendent's aren't putting as much effort into our national education system as the massage therapy profession is doing right now!!!
  9. "Increasing the required number of training hours will result in increased cost to attend school without any acknowledged return on investment" It's entirely possible that this is a place where ABMP can use the very structure that you've been (unfairly, in my opinion) criticized for in the past.  As a for-profit corporation that is obviously very interested in and supported of the massage therapy profession...without having to jump through the same processes that AMTA has to because of their structure, could actually fund research on this very topic.  Given that conventional physicians have very high concerns regarding their liability to refer to MT's because of our lack of consistent credentials, confusion amongst the public, and quite frankly-confusion within our own profession that it's high time we really investigate this issue without any prejudice or bias going in.  Sorry to use the metaphor stuff again, but it was the "standard" in this very country for people to own slaves, yet that standard was changed.  It's entirely possible that those standards are no longer relevant?
  10. "Changing the state educational requirement will make portability—the ability to move from one state to another and obtain a license (an acknowledged goal among massage therapy organizations)—even more difficult."  This statement is probably one of the most critical statements that I've read in any of the opinions offered in this entire thread.  Portability--some in other professions would argue that there's no such thing as "real" portability, but for purposes of keeping on track...for me, the real question is that given the fact that 14 states already acknowledge more than 500 hours, with three additional states pending----we now have 17 states in this country that have determined that 500 hours is not enough.  For purposes of portability, are we to exclude the option of portability to those states and simply accept that 500 hours is the baseline, yet those states who have successfully passed legislation that supports a higher level of education should either drop to 500 hours?  should all of the other states increase their hours to match the higher hours offered by those 17 other states?  I'm not sure that I am in a position to answer that question---I'm not sure that the profession or any of it's leaders are in a position to answer it either.  That being said.....the real question is where do we go from here, and how can we stop the embarrassing in-fighting that is going on.  It's hard to look a legislator in the eye, a physician, or a client for that matter and talk about what a wonderful profession I'm privileged to be a part of when it would seem that lately we're more in the business of tearing each other down as opposed to supporting the professionals that make massage therapy a profession.  
Comment by Angela Palmier on April 20, 2011 at 8:28am

@Mike Hinkle:

Before I'm able to understand your post, I have the following questions:

  1. "We have done so many polls proving 500 hours should be the norm for entry level."  Please define who "we" is along with the dates of the polls.  That information would help me appropriately respond.  We all know the saying "what got us here, won't get us there" so it is entirely possible, depending upon when the polls were taken, by whom they were taken, the questions that were asked and the skill-set/best intentions that the responses were either skewed or flawed.
  2. "Therapists need to contact their peers, legislators and representatives." Are you suggesting that therapists in Illinois specifically contact their peers, legislators and representatives, or is this statement intended just "in general."  If you are suggesting a contact, what are you suggesting they contact their peers, legislators and representatives about?
  3. "They need to start organizing to fight continued efforts at raising any entry levels above that and any tier system that will try to divide Massage Therapy in America."  If this is the answer to my second question, then I'm sorry to say that I couldn't disagree with you more.  While there are many specific comments represented in this thread stating that no research/nothing has been offered to suggest that increasing hours increases professional ability, I'd also like to suggest that perhaps there is no research/nothing has been offered to suggest that increasing hours would not increase professional ability.  With regard to your comment about fighting a "tier system" I could not disagree with you more.  Through many conversations with physicians who are desperate to refer to MT's, however cannot determine who has the appropriate level of training/competence, etc., due to our lack of identifying competency of the provider, the varied requirements from state to state, the disagreement within the profession itself, (that one really made me sick) and unclear credentials, the malpractice liability is just too great.  I respect the fact that several of my colleagues are not interested in integrating themselves into conventional medicine, however I resent the fact that they are creating obstacles that would limit those of us who want that integration.  I understand that the World Massage Festival has advertised a "research-based" theme this year.  Perhaps after the festival your opinion on this may change.
Comment by Angela Palmier on April 20, 2011 at 8:12am

Emmanuel, you're no doubt aware that I have the utmost respect for you and I take your opinions very seriously.  I do appreciate the fact that you've opened this door because without questioning, professions--society as a whole for that matter would be a very nasty place.  I have a few questions/clarifications based on your initial post and would appreciate a response.

  1. After reading and re-reading the information provided by the AMTA-IL Chapter, I'm not seeing anything that appears to be "bashing ABMP."  Rather, I see that they are informing their members that ABMP has opposed amendment 2 of the bill.  The high profile law firm based in Chicago is one of the most expensive law firms and by hiring such a firm, it infers that ABMP has taken a very serious position against increasing the minimum number of hours in Illinois.  Can you point out where you see that AMTA-IL is actually bashing ABMP, or are you simply in disagreement with the chapter supporting the IL-MLB recommendation of increasing hours?
  2. You've highlighted two sections:  One referring to the chapter supporting the MLB (are you stating that the chapter should not?) and one regarding AMTA-IL structure that includes info re: the ABMP's participation in the process.  I'd like to break this paragraph in two...  2a) The Chapter's support of the MLB in my opinion is important for many reasons.  It's also important to note that the unanimous decision to raise the minimum education standards in Illinois was made up of a board that is comprised of AMTA members as well as ABMP customers.  I wonder if the MLB members who are affiliated with ABMP consulted with and/or were contacted by ABMP prior to the hiring of a lobbyist?  Do you know if this happened?
  3. You say "Basically, Illinois licensees have to shut up and just go with what AMTA and the licensing board say, and ABMP, although it is the largest association in the country, should not be involved because they are from Colorado?"  Here are my thoughts....of course Illinois licensees do not have to shut up, nor should they.  They should choose whether or not they are impacted by this legislation---and in fact, EVERY one of them are as SB153 is the sunset bill.  I do want to offer the fact that ABMP is not an association, but rather an organization-which is structurally different than a professional membership association.  Theoretically, professional membership associations are beholden to their membership whereas for-profit organizations are not---at least in the same way.  That being said, I have no issue whatsoever with a company being for-profit but what I think would be helpful is to consider that while decisions made by AMTA-IL are made by the membership, decisions made by ABMP do not have to go through that process.
  4. True, ABMP is located in Colorado, and no-I do not believe that excludes them in any way to offer their opinion.  What I am interested to know is that while you feel slighted because you feel that AMTA-IL or IL-MLB did not ask or include you in the decision making process to increase the minimum education hours, do you feel equally as slighted that ABMP did not ask or include you in their decision making process to oppose it?
Comment by Angela Palmier on April 20, 2011 at 7:54am

First, I'd like to say that despite the tenor of many of the posts herein I’m proud that so many of my colleagues-regardless of their position-are interested enough in the profession to actually say something about it.  It does however point out that once you take a position/make a decision (which by the way is what leaders are supposed to do) it becomes open for debate.  Thank you for opening the door!


I’d also like to point out that while many of us are willing to submit opinions there are many lurkers out there who are reading these posts, not asking questions and simply choosing which perspective makes the most sense to them and making decisions based on the person providing the opinion rather than the facts.  As “elders” in this profession, we MUST be mindful of this fact and while it is politically acceptable to show facts that support one side of an argument, it is not ethically acceptable when the words and actions taken result in our colleagues making decisions based on opinions which are presented as fact.  There are quite a few “truthy” statements in this thread.  I’d prefer to be called out as being factually wrong rather than appearing to be intentionally misleading to garner support for my cause.


If we support our profession, then we must support every professional within it - even if we disagree.  Throughout this thread, and with all due respect the various individuals that have posted, I will be posing a few questions, thoughts, alternative views, and perhaps in the process it will server as a reminder for ALL of us that before we state positions, it is best to ensure that we’ve gone through the knowledge based decision making process, and clearly understand that through public commentary such as this, we are “advertising” the strength of our profession, or lack thereof.


Ultimately, I would like to support this conversation, however in it’s current form I simply cannot.  Bashing each other for having differing opinions is counter-productive and is not how professionals behave.  Making blanket “we should” statements is both disrespectful to those who disagree and frankly, self-serving.  They do not open the question for debate, but rather puts the profession in an us vs. us position.  That stance serves no one.

Comment by Mike Hinkle on April 20, 2011 at 1:15am
We have done so many polls proving 500 hours should be the norm for entry level. The majority of massage therapists say so. Therapists need to contact their peers, legislators and representativesThey need to start organizing to fight continued efforts at raising any entry levels above that and any tier system that will try to divide Massage Therapy in America..
Comment by Les Sweeney on April 19, 2011 at 10:49am

Greetings Friends -


ABMP has posted two pieces of information about the Illinois legislative issue. The first was a legislative notice sent to members and posted online on March 22. It is here - The second, in response to the notice from ATMA-Illinois, was sent to IL massage schools this morning, and is as follows:


Dear Colleagues:

By now, it is likely you received a notice from the American Massage Therapy Association Illinois Chapter regarding Senate Bill 153, which re-authorizes the Massage Licensing Act. In particular, the notice attacked ABMP for opposing Senate Amendment 002 of the bill, which would raise the education hour requirements in Illinois to 750.

Were you to believe the characterizations of the chapter, you’d be inclined to think that ABMP does nothing for its members and the profession and got involved in this issue on a whim. Nothing could be further from the truth. I wanted to take a moment to explain ABMP’s position.

ABMP does not oppose the re-authorization bill; in fact, we had been in communication with the AMTA-IL during the bill review process, and were in general agreement with them regarding the bill language. Our concern was raised when the Illinois Massage Licensing Board (MLB) and the AMTA-IL submitted an amendment after the initial bill draft increasing the required education hours from the current 500 to a proposed 750. ABMP was not consulted on the amendment, and initially was unaware of its existence.

We communicated our concern to both the MLB and the Illinois Chapter. Our views are as follows:

  • Neither the MLB nor the Chapter could provide a valid justification for the proposed increase in hours; the only evidence cited was that one school’s graduates “could not passing the licensing test;”
  • There is no evidence within the field that a minimum educational standard beyond 500 hours is needed; the State of Florida considered a similar increase in 2003 and after analysis determined that an increase in hours beyond the 500-hour standard was unjustified;
  • The recognized educational standard for ABMP, AMTA, and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is 500 hours;
  • Increasing the required number of training hours will result in increased cost to attend school without any acknowledged return on investment; and
  • Changing the state educational requirement will make portability—the ability to move from one state to another and obtain a license (an acknowledged goal among massage therapy organizations)—even more difficult.

The MLB’s rationale of raising the standards because a school’s graduates couldn’t pass a licensing exam is the equivalent of extending high school until the 18th grade for all Illinois children because one school’s students aren’t graduating. If certain schools are not adequately training our future therapists, why should we make the students stay in those schools even longer? The MLB is well intended but misguided. ABMP will not support the use of state regulation as a hoped-for instrument of professional development.

ABMP’s $750,000+ annual investment in our Education Department and its programs aims to help caring schools and instructors nationally improve program quality. We work with you to strengthen core programs. We believe that “better is better,” not “more (hours) is necessarily better.” We applaud schools voluntarily enriching their program offerings and individual practitioners committing to life-long learning through continuing education. One can favor these goals without raising higher the barrier to getting started in practice, learning by gaining experience putting hands on bodies.

The MLB and chapter likely feel strongly about their position, as do we; it is unfortunate that such an important element of state regulation was not given the appropriate forum to research, discuss, and debate. We have engaged professional representation at the legislature to fight for what we feel is important; the “more is better” mantra is not a rationale to increase the cost of becoming a massage therapist.

The Senate Amendment is currently before the House Health Care Licenses Committee. If so inclined, you can contact the Chairman or the Republican Spokesperson and express your concerns about the proposed amendment.

Rep. Dan Reitz (D-Sparta, Randolph County), Chair, Health Care Licenses Committee
(217) 782-1018

Rep. Angelo Saviano (R-Elmwood Park, Cook County), Republican Spokesperson, Health Care Licenses Committee
(217) 782-3374

All committee members:

Should you have any questions about ABMP’s position, please do not hesitate to contact me or Jean Robinson, Director of Government Relations (


Les Sweeney, NCTM



Comment by Stan Dawson on April 19, 2011 at 10:24am

As a massage school owner, I agree with what Rick said about entry-level practitioners not needing more than 500 hours of training, providing the curriculum is designed well and the quality of instruction is adequate.  Since these last two conditions regarding curriculum and quality of instruction are inconsistent, we do need to improve as a profession in those areas.  The Alliance's project to improve the quality of massage instructors seems to me to be focused in the right direction.  We also need curriculum standards to address the curriculum design. 

Regarding Gordon's comment: Our grads pass the national tests 95% on the first try.  My school is not set up to teach to the tests.  I don't agree that the tests are that difficult.  Our grads can definitely tell you about "knots" in muscles and so can our faculty.  I do agree with Gordon's other points.

Regarding tiered licensure:  On this subject, I am not sure whether it would be better to have the system Rick advocates (in which advanced training is all done through continued education in specialty certification courses) or a second tier of licensure that goes beyond entry level massage training into pain relief and structural balancing (some may call it medical massage, but I am not fond of the term) with specialty certification courses after the advanced level of training.  Why do parts of Canada require 2200 hours of training?  Are we missing something?  I can easily see the content for a two year major in massage and bodywork that may be an Associates level training or could be linked to two years of core courses and become a Bachelors level course.  Specialty certification would be like adding a Masters level to the training.

We need a more solid foundation as Rick suggests.  And we need to recognize that the ABMP has a valid right to participate on the legislative level along with any other stakeholder group regardless of their profit making status.



Comment by Laura Allen on April 18, 2011 at 5:55pm
North Carolina's AMTA chapter pays a lobbyist $20,000 a year. Bear in mind he doesn't just work for AMTA. He gets that money whether he does anything for us or not.

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