Massage therapy needs a face lift!
Massage therapy has come a long way in the past 25+ years. I’m proud to be a part of a growing profession that is gaining more and more credibility with the general public and with the medical community. That being said, it’s time to make the next leap! I’m glad to see 45 states now regulating the industry, but that is just not good enough for me. We need to have all 50 states on board. Period. Without all the states regulating this equally the public’s perception is that massage therapy is just like any other service. We get grouped in with hair dressers, carpet cleaners, window washers, personal trainers and the like. I am in no way putting down these other industries, but they should not be in the same classification as massage therapy! We have something much more to offer than just a “service” or a “luxury”. We offer real, therapeutic and transformative therapy! I want to be in the same breath as Physical Therapy, Doctors and Nurses. How?
We offer more than just a service…
First I want to address those that feel massage therapy should not be regulated at all. At first I was bitterly opposed to the idea until I understood what they are against. The over-inflated regulation of massage. I agree! I feel we are talking about apples and oranges here. Many object to having government over regulate what I consider “spa massage” or “relaxation massage”. I absolutely, 100% agree that this overreach is ridiculous! Why on God’s green earth does someone need to spend 500+ hours in college, study and pass a lengthy exam and continue to receive continued education to renew their license? To do something my mom did for me when I was a kid, that friends do for friends when the have tight shoulders… It’s absurd!
A two licence system is the answer!
This brings me to my next point. A TWO (2) system licensure! One for the “relaxation therapist” who like to create a spa style atmosphere with smelly lotions and essential oils and another license for the “therapeutic” or “medical” based therapist. I have come to find that most therapists fall into one of these two categories and rarely, if ever, do they work both ends of the spectrum. But won’t we be going backwards if we require less education from the majority of massage therapist? Absolutely NOT! With one strong voice we will demonstrate to the mass public that there are very real therapeutic benefits to massage therapy beyond stress relief and increased blood flow. They have been proven time and time again to be more beneficial that surgery, exercise and drugs!
Why have regulations in the first place?
The initial reason behind licensing massage therapists and requiring education was to combat the prostitution that so often accompanied the massage parlors in the past. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! We can now move forward with keeping the regulations that protect the individual and the therapist from all the misunderstanding regarding massage therapy. The general public has now come to accept that massage therapy is a real, non-sexual, service that can help decrease stress and fatigue and increase needed blood flow. The problem we have now is, with ONLY the basic requirements in place, we have massage therapists with only limited understanding of anatomy and physiology working on people with bulging discs, dislocations, sprains and strains, head trauma, and more. We are not “protecting” these individuals from harm because the average individual does not understand how little schooling is required to become a licensed massage therapist, let alone the pathetic requirements for continued education. They now blindly trust that their therapist knows what they are doing….We have solved one problem and have created an entirely different one. As we understand the human body more and more and have studies proving the medical benefits of massage, we need to now up the education level to increase the therapists abilities to address said problems.
500 hours / 1000 hours
Basically, 500 hours is the average across the states, besides NY which requires 1000 hours, for an individual to qualify to take the state board exam. I feel this is way too much for someone only interested in spa massage and absolutely insufficient for a qualified therapeutic/medical massage therapist. So here’s my opinion that I will throw onto the feet of my colleagues and other health care professionals. 250/500 hours for spa massage and 1000/1500 hours for therapeutic/medical massage therapist. The 250/500 hour requirement should be an easy sell for all 50 states to agree on. Its not a ridiculous amount of time to ensure proper basic understand of the human body and also to weed out as many “creeps” as possible with background checks and the need to still pass a basic test. 1000/1500 hours should be sufficient time to understand the basics of therapeutic/medical massage. With a more comprehensive understanding of anatomy and physiology to avoid doing harm. I would also think it would be prudent to require 25-50 hours a year of continuing education to retain one’s therapeutic license while on the other hand a feel a spa therapist should have no such requirements at all.
Let’s talk about the big picture.
I know I will probably (most definitely) make some therapists mad at even the thought of this drastic change. Some may feel its back-stepping for our industry. But please try to think of the big picture. We have the requirements in place and the boards to regulate us. Why? To protect the public and ensure a proper industry. I feel we are failing miserably to protect those seeking a massage therapist to help them with significant medical issues. The average graduate of a massage school does not have the first clue as to how to address a client who has suffered a concussion. The average therapist does not receive a sufficient education to address the pain symptoms stemming from a massive car accident or sports injury. Only now after 15 years in the industry and working with dozens of doctors and therapists do I feel I have really hit the mark of professionally being able to address these issues on my own. I wish I would have had just a little bit more training in school so that I didn’t have to learn the hard way as to what is too much pressure for a client suffering from an acute injury or when it’s prudent to stretch someones neck, back or limb. Thankfully I have never hurt anyone, but I do realize now that I could have been more effective in my assessments and my execution of more specific modalities. If I have learned just one thing, it is that the longer I do this work, the more I realize how little I know and this gives me the incentive I need to continue searching in my study of the human body. Let the floodgates open!