The recent COVID-19 pandemic has shown that many massage therapists do not know what the major associations do for the profession and do not know the history of our associations. They are NOT just for insurance. If you just want insurance, there are some companies that provide insurance at a reduced rate like www.handsontrade.com and Massage Magazines Liability Insurance. (See a comparison of insurance companies/policies including ABMP and AMTA.)
American Massage Therapy Association
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is a non-profit Membership Association 501c6. Being a 501c6 organization means that the money you make needs to come mainly from membership dues and must be reinvested back into the organization. AMTA has been a strong advocate in each state working on issues of licensing, policy making, and does not oppose establishment licensing.
AMTA has a volunteer board of directors who are elected using the slate method of voting. The candidates are chosen and a yes or no vote is given by members. They have various committees that work for the organization in various capacities: Chapter Relations Standing Committee, Finance Standing Committee, Governance Standing Committee, Assembly of Delegates Advisory Committee
It was first called the American Association of Masseuses and Masseurs.
AAMM organization formalized, adopted constitution and bylaws, stating, “The purpose of this association is to foster the spirit of cooperation, the exchange of ideas and techniques among its members, and to advance the science of massage so as to merit the respect and confidence of all people, and benefit mankind.” AMTA Website1958 – Name changed to American Massage & Therapy Association (AM&TA)
1960 – Incorporated as a non-profit organization and Code of Ethics developed.
1983 – Name changed to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Removal of “&” supported practice of massage therapy as legitimate professional field unto itself, separate from physical therapy.
AMTA has chapters in every state that have Volunteer Board Members who are elected by the state chapter members. AMTA National and Each state chapter have Government Relations committees to help with national and local issues. For a long time, each chapter was run on the extra ‘chapter fee’ that was charged to members. The chapter fee went to each chapter allowing them a wider range of authority and could spend that money as voted on by each chapter board. The chapter fee was done away with, and now all chapters must get every expense approved by the national organization. The money still comes from the National organization to pay for lobbyists, lawyers and whatever help is needed in dealing with the state board of massage, licensing, legislation as well as local city issues of licensing.
AMTA provides liability insurance as ONE of it’s many benefits of membership. They contract with HPSO to provide the liability insurance for AMTA Members.
AMTA’s Assembly of Delegates are a group of AMTA members elected to provide input on items of interest for the association as it relates/impacts their state, as outlined in policy making it more of a membership driven association.
AMTA also funds the NCBTMB, funds the Massage Therapy Foundation, owns Massage Today. Massage Today has yet to verify who is running the website. The only reference I could find today of the purchase is this statement by ABMP about AMTA’s purchase of Massage Today.
What was glaringly absent from the February issue of Massage Today was any acknowledgement that AMTA is now the owner and publisher of that news magazine—no story about the purchase, masthead listing identifying AMTA as the owner, publisher’s note about the purchase, or caveat within the Zogby article describing that the central party to the story was also the owner of the publication. This disclosure failure is a violation of Journalism 101.
As a formal 501c6 membership organization, they are required to report their income and expenses. You can see AMTA’s financial reports at www.guidestar.com . In 2019, AMTA’s executive director WILLIAM BROWN was paid $470,394. Member dues, meetings and publications brought in $17,065,532. Expenses were $18,850,398.
See also: History of AMTA by Ruth Williams- 1943-1968 www.massageschoolnotes.com
If you want to see changes in the massage profession in your state or nationally, you can get involved with the process by joining and volunteering for AMTA and it’s chapters.
AMTA has previously been known as a membership driven association. In recent years that has been changed starting with eliminating units that were small groups in each state, stopping the chapter fee that supported the local chapter, changing to a ‘slate’ vote for electing board members (a slate vote means that AMTA picks the people from a list of people who have applied for the position and picks a full slate of board member and the AMTA members vote YES or NO– they don’t have a choice in candidates), and most recently actually saying they were not member driven anymore.
National Certification Board for Massage and Bodywork
1988 – National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) was created by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). which provided the seed money for startup. The NCE was originally started as an AMTA entrance exam and quickly moved to becoming a national exam which we all know is not so national. In 1990, the NCBTMB declared it’s independence from AMTA.
A steering committee was chosen by 4 AMTA officers. It consisted of 2 members of AMTA who initially proposed this action, Susan Rosen of Washington and Susanne Carlson of Oregon. Within the committee, 7 out of 9 members were AMTA members.
The name became confusing as there was no real NATIONAL exam that you could take that would allow you to practice in every state.
After the Federation of Massage Therapy State Boards was formed and took over testing for licensing, the NCBTMB has been struggling. They have created some Specialty Certificates to help set apart various therapists that have taken advanced training. There is still a Board Certification exam too.
It is currently mainly funded by AMTA and a new Executive Director,Shelly Johnson, was appointed this year to try to dig them out of the hole they are in. Shelly previously served as Deputy Director of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) from 2002-2010 and Executive Director from 2010-2013.
The NCBTMB has also overseen the CE classes that are required for many states for licensing renewal. There has been a battle over who oversees the CE classes in the massage profession. The Federation of Massage State Boards has created a CE tracking software system and delivery system even though they had agreed not to a few years ago when the battle over CE was brewing.
Currently, it is the only way we can distinguish ourselves in the world of medical/clinical massage therapy. Hopefully one day a true Board Certification will be created in medical/clinical massage as well as things like hospital based massage, sports massage, pregnancy massage and other topics.
2019: Their executive director, Steve Kirin, received 154,550 in compensation in 2019. Their programs brought in: RECERTIFICATION 777,795 b EXAMINATION 376,831 APPROVED PROVIDER PROG 233,015
Their total expenses for 2019 was $1,398,818 (990 form at www.guidestar.com)
Associated Massage and Bodywork Association (ABMP)
ABMP was started in 1987 by ABMP was founded by Sherri Williamson ( a disgruntled massage therapists according to Robert Calvert in his book “The History of Massage”). It is a FOR profit organization owned by the Professional Assist Corporation.
ABMP is a Professional Assist Corporation (PAC)(PDF)—a group of national associations serving the following beauty and wellness professionals:
• Associated Bodywork &Massage Professionals (ABMP), the nation’s largest professional association for massage therapists and bodyworkers • Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP), the nation’s only association of its kind for estheticians
• Associated Hair Professionals (AHP), our association for hair stylists and barbers
• Associated Nail Professionals (ANP), our newest association serving nail professionals
So they are working for many professions, not just massage therapists.
ABMP provides liability insurance as ONE of it’s many membership benefits.
While they do not have chapters like the AMTA, they sometimes do get involved in legislative issues. More recently, I have seen ABMP getting more involved but on a very limited basis.
ABMP was instrumental in the formation of the Federation of Massage Therapy State Boards.
Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB)
“The FSMTB was established in 2005 and operates under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All revenue collected by the organization is used to enhance FSMTB programs, maintain and improve the quality of the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) and provide support to FSMTB Member Boards in fulfilling their responsibility of protecting the public.”
The FSMTB is creating a CE Registry– “The CE Registry program is in place to meet the FSMTB mission of facilitating professional mobility and simplifying and standardizing the licensing and renewal processes.”
The FSMTB and NCBTMB are arguing over the rights to overseeing CE providers and classes—see also the CE Conundrum.
Income for 2019 -Examination Services ($5,142,000), Membership Services($139,000), Investment($519,500)
Expenses for 2019 – Examination Fees ($2,664,000), General Operating Expenses ($1,516,000), Professional Fees ($984,000), Travel($315,500)
Their latest 990 form in www.guidestar.com is 2016 and lists their Executive Director as Deborah Persinger who received $289,114 in compensation.
State Massage Licensing Boards
Your State board of massage oversees licensing in your state and sets the number of hours of education and content of those classes, creates your scope of practice laws, creates CE requirements as well as creates and updates rules regarding the practice of massage in your state. They often receive data and input from the Federation of Massage State Boards
Their main job is to protect the public from harm from massage therapists. They do not really work on standing up for the massage profession. For example: when the massage school owners in WA state brought up the idea of increasing the number of minimum hours required for licensing WA State Board of Massage was against it at first because there are no complaints or injuries under the current 500 hours of education requirements. (They later did agree to up it to 625 based on some of the ELAP but it is not official yet).