As we move through the COVID-19 Pandemic we are really being shown the weaknesses in our profession. Our massage associations were slow to respond and when they did respond they all did the same thing — created more and more guidelines and recommendations for us to weed through and process. They were duplicating each others efforts rather than working together which made it harder for them to respond quickly and efficiently. What if they worked together and split up the topics so they could more fully research and then create best practices for each thing together—which is sort of what the Federation of Massage State Boards did, but not quite.
One of the organizations could have been organizing legislative efforts to help connect us to the various governors offices and legislative offices. One could have stepped up to create a fund for grants for distressed businesses. What else could have been done differently?
Rick Rosen, in his white paper On Becoming a Profession, which he wrote back in 2008, suggested that we combine efforts and work together through an organization that organizes organizations like CLEAR—The Council for Licensure, Enforcement & Regulation; and FARB—The Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards.
These organizations function independently, according to their own bylaws and strategic plans. At the same time, they are part of a unified structure where the actions of each directly influences the entire profession. It’s a lot like the relationship between the organ systems of the human body and the organism as a whole. The health of a given profession depends upon the
ethical and efficient operation of each entity, as well as its relationships with the others. To address the collective needs and challenges of the profession, there is ongoing dialogue,planning and cooperation among the leaders of these organizations. This provides the crucial integrating function of intelligence.
Employees need representation.
Employees are being taken advantage of being made to clean offices on their own time and absorb the extra duties and responsibilities that are added to reopen a massage business. Some employers are not providing the required PPE needed for reopening safely. Cleaning procedures vary because of the confusing information. There are no set standards.
For over 30 years, I have heard talk of starting a union for massage therapists. This talk is being revived now. Will someone actually step up and create one or do we need one in every state or one for every franchise or not sure how it all works. We need to start the questioning to find out and explore the various opportunities. There is a Facebook group that has been started for talk around a national union (USOLMT – US Organization of Licensed Massage Therapists) and also one for a WA Group —Washington LMTs Unionizing Discussion Group. Let me know if you have one starting up in your state.
Governors, Massage Boards and State Guidelines
Governors in each state and some board of health or board of massage departments were providing the guidelines for reopening and keeping massage therapists and clients safe. They were doing it without the proper input from the massage therapists themselves. AMTA Chapter Leaders (VOLUNTEERS) were leading the charge with ABMP also stepping in but many governors were not listening. They often have set inappropriate guidelines making it more confusing—should you abide by the governors guidelines (are they guidelines or requirements?)
Massage therapists were referred to as masseuses and massage parlors. Some states were able to get that changed for the time being. (This should have been done a very long time ago.)
In the early stages, many massage therapists were put off by not being included as an essential worker. The thinking was that of course massage should be essential because of all of this stress and anxiety happening all around us. Many were not aware that the definition of essential worker was to be someone who was essential in providing the basic needs of people like grocery stores, banks, home repair, car repair, pet supplies and healthcare. In WA State massage therapists are on the list of essential workers because we are considered to be healthcare workers and we can also bill health insurance. We could only work on very acute clients who were in pain and would have ended up in the hospital or on Opioids. The initial requirements to be able an essential worker were created with the help of AMTA-WA. If you want to be on the essential work list next time, you need to work to get massage therapy covered by health insurance to be an official part of healthcare. I have it all explained in my ebook on Massage Insurance Billing.
Massage Therapy Boards represent the clients and work to make sure that massage is provided in a safe manner and protect the public from harm. They don’t really advocate for the massage therapist. Our associations should be doing that.