Learn how to consider and prepare position statements for submission to the AMTA House of Delegates. A carefully considered, well-crafted position statement has a much better chance of being adopted by the House and will minimize confusion and debate on the floor of the House during its annual meeting. For a visual reference of the Position Statement process, view the Position Statement Flowchart.
What is a Position Statement of the House of Delegates?
The House of Delegates is a representative body of the membership that approves AMTA position statements. A position statement is AMTA’s position on professional or public policy issues that relate to the mission and goals of the association. An individual member or group of members develops proposed position statements, but they can only be submitted by an AMTA Professional Active member to be considered by the House of Delegates.
Once proposed position statements have gone through the review process, they are sent to delegates and made available to the membership via the AMTA website for feedback. Using this feedback to help form an opinion on the position statement, the delegate goes to the House of Delegates meeting where the position statement is debated and then voted on. If the position statement passes the House of Delegates, it becomes an official position of AMTA. It is in the best interests of the maker of the position statement to submit a proposal that is in-keeping with AMTA policy and meets the criteria for a position statement.
Is it needed? This is the first thing to consider when planning to propose a Position Statement.
Is the issue you are attempting to address covered in the current bylaws and policies of the organization? Before beginning the long process of drafting and offering a position statement it is wise to review these, and any other relevant AMTA documents.
Is it consistent with the Position Statement Criteria?
The Position Statement Proposal Review Workgroup will review each proposal for the following criteria:
- Must be related to AMTA’s mission and goals.
- Must address professional or public policy issues.
- Must be in accordance with AMTA’s statement on discrimination.
- Must take a position, not state the need for a position.
- Must be submitted in a standard format.
- Must not be defamatory.
- Must not make references to the position statement of an organization or the stated opinion of an individual.
- Must not endorse a political candidate or party.
- Must not address internal AMTA issues.
- Must not endorse a specific product or company.
Position statements must deal with issues related directly to massage therapy or the policies and practices of AMTA.
Professional issues which relate to the mission and goals of the AMTA have a broader scope and could cover any issue that relates to massage therapy. Public policy may be defined as the basic set of policies forming the foundation of public laws, which public authorities encourage for the promotion of public good. Public policy issues could be on topics such as equal opportunity or social issues, such as the inclusion of massage under Medicaid.
Good example: It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can be effective for stress relief. This position is simple and direct and can be backed up with research. [Note: This actually was the first position statement approved by the HOD.]
Poor example: The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) believes that massage therapy is an effective tool for stress reduction. AMTA supports continued research that demonstrates the effectiveness of massage therapy through the Massage Therapy Foundation and market research. AMTA also supports ethical massage practices and standards for the delivery of massage therapy.
There are actually three position statements included in this paragraph and, as a whole, it doesn’t communicate a position of the association.
Position Statement Review Process
AMTA policy sets parameters for and gives direction to the conduct of business within AMTA, as outlined in the AMTA Policy Manual.
- Upon receipt, it will be evaluated by AMTA legal counsel, AMTA staff and the Position Statement Review Workgroup for factual accuracy (based on bibliography of references), legality and adherence to existing AMTA policy.
- The HOD will not consider position statements that violate local, state or federal statues, or that would alter our tax-exempt status, or result in lengthy litigation.
- The evaluation will check against any impact on previously approved position statements.
- Each proposed position statement will be evaluated on form, approach and content. The Workgroup will not make any suggestions to change the intent of the position statement, but will work with the originator to ensure all criteria are met and the proposal is accurate and complete.
Submit your proposal early to give it plenty of time to go through the review process. Remember that it may take more than one year to pass a position statement, because it needs a two thirds majority vote to pass in the HOD. It may take several revisions before a proposal is clearly stated, completes the review process and is accepted by the HOD.
Is a Position Statement in the House of Delegates the appropriate forum to discuss this issue?
There are many avenues to provide feedback to the national Board of Directors. The House of Delegates is not an appropriate forum for personal vendettas or criticism of the organization, its board or individual officers or members or for position statement proposals that attempt to take such an approach.
Do you have a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish?
Position statements should have clear goals and address specific issues. Carefully consider what your desired outcome will be, and be able to express that outcome clearly.
Position statements are considered as presented and can not be amended on the floor of the House of Delegates. If you do not clearly present your intent and meaning, and why AMTA should hold this position, then the debate will be difficult and frustrating and your position statement will flounder. You only get one shot each year, so make it count.
Is your Position Statement well-crafted?
The document you submit to the House of Delegates becomes a part of our organization’s public record and should be well-written and properly formatted. Remember, the Workgroup can assist only to a certain point to ensure the proposal is presented properly.
Here are some tips on writing a successful position statement:
- Be clear and accurate. Your position statements are considered and debated as presented to the HOD by a delegate (not the originator), and you will not have an opportunity to further explain what you really meant to say or to make amendments.
- Edit your position statement carefully. Use spell check and grammar check on your computer and have disinterested third parties read it and comment on your draft.
- Keep the tone professional and positive. Position statements that include good ideas, but are written with hostility or negativity will usually be defeated on the basis of the way they are written, if not rejected during review because they fail to meet necessary criteria, regardless of the intent of the position statement.
- Follow a logical process. Present your ideas in a clear way with supporting facts rather than emotions.
How do you write a Position Statement?
A position statement proposal should be written in a specific format, using the appropriate form:
- Present a brief summary of the background and rationale for the position statement. Include any information that will explain its intent and meaning.
- The position statement, itself, should be limited to one paragraph and preferably no more than two or three sentences. Then include a list of sufficient verifiable references to support your proposal, including research, statistics, AMTA board decisions, etc.
- The idea for a position statement can come from anywhere or from anyone, but may only be proposed by an AMTA Professional member.
- Complete a Position Statement Proposal Form and submit it to the Position Statement Review Workgroup Chair and staff liaison, with a copy to one of their chapter delegates.
What are the Position Statement Deadlines?
Position statement proposal forms may be submitted at any time. However, to ensure that proposals can complete review and be considered at the next House of Delegates meeting, they should be submitted by January 15 of the year in which they are to be considered. Read the full Position Statement timeline for additional details.
If you have any suggestions or questions about the position statement process, contact the Position Statement Review Commission Chair or staff liaison.