Looking back into the history of the massage profession, I found that we are still faced with the same old issues that we had in the 1900’s – brothels doing business as massage therapists is one of the biggest issues.
There is still much confusion over some of the terms we use – Medical Massage, Spa Massage, Sports Massage, Certification vs Certificate, CE vs CEU and the profession is yet to come together to tackle these definitions.
Decreasing Numbers of Massage therapists
As the profession grew and massage franchises came into being, a shift occurred in the mid 2000’s with a significant growth in the number of massage schools. These schools were rushing to get on the franchise bandwagon and turning out graduates. Many used false advertising tactics and were later shut down or closed on their own.
In 2012, the profession produced one of it’s biggest achievements – the Entry Level Analysis Project (ELAP) outlining the basic required competencies for entry level massage therapists. The resulting reports have been overwhelming for schools to implement. The latest massage textbooks are updated to cover this information.
Currently, the number of massage therapists and schools continues to decline. Is it because of the low paying jobs that only support part time work, lack of benefits, missclassification of employees/independent contractors and the bad reputation of some franchises that take advantage of massage therapists?
Massage therapy as healthcare.
In 1993, in WA State the insurance commissioner Deboarh Senn created the Every Category Law that was fought by the insurance carriers for 6 years but she won, making it so massage therapy had to be covered by health insurance. Why is the rest of the US so far behind in making this happen?
Not in OUR Good Name
Massage and massage therapy is being used by sex workers as a front for their prostitution businesses. Massage therapists are constantly being asked for ‘happy endings’. The laws that we have make it difficult to stop these requests and to stop sex workers for using OUR Good Name – Massage therapy.
Massage therapists are often misclassified as indepent contractors. Many take advantage of massage therapists in this way. Also, the low pay from massage franchises has hurt the massage profession and given it a bad image.
Massage Licensing and Legislation
Massage Licensing Laws vary by state. The number of hours of education have often be arbitrarily set even though we have the Entry Level Analysis Project that has found that 625 hours of education focusing on the specific competencies is enough for an entry level massage therapist.
Continuing Education varies greatly by state and there has been no research to show what is actually needed to create and advanced massage therapist. Board Certification is one way, but the National Certification Board for Massage and Bodywork is struggling to educate the public and the profession about it’s importance. CE classes are often provided without testing to show the massage therapist has learned the information. Many massage therapists continue to share misinformation about massage and it’s benefits.