President's Letter on Massage Therapists and Safety

Dear AMTA Family,

As massage therapists, we work every day to help ease pain, stress, and manage medical conditions, making a meaningful difference for our clients. Mutual respect, courtesy and professionalism should be expected between clients and massage therapists at all times. And, massage therapists should never have to tolerate conduct outside the bounds of therapeutic massage. The practice of massage therapy is and always should be about health and wellness.

This summer, the NFL’s punishment addressing the allegations against Deshaun Watson, created a discussion in the profession around safety.  As the non-profit association serving the profession, AMTA was proud to bring this important conversation to a wider audience, and I wanted to take a moment to share just a few of our efforts over the past several months. 

  • In June, AMTA released an initial statement regarding the ongoing allegations of misconduct against Deshaun Watson and the importance of safety for both massage therapists and the clients they serve.

  • On June 28, AMTA reached out to Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL asking for his support to help facilitate an environment where licensed massage therapists can practice massage therapy safely and professionally as part of the care team for NFL athletes. We were disappointed not to receive a direct response but remain open and eager to having a dialogue with the NFL on this crucial issue.

  • In early August, AMTA issued a follow-up statement expressing our disappointment on the preliminary ruling and relatively light punishment from the NFL levied towards Deshaun Watson in their findings of his violation of the League’s personal-conduct policy. We continued to call for the League to take measures to ensure that massage therapists in the NFL, as well as those supporting individual athletes, are able to work in a safe and professional environment.

  • On August 19, AMTA released a national press release on our dissatisfaction regarding the NFL’s disciplinary action again Deshaun Watson. We called for the NFL to adhere to higher standards and professionalism and asked for a more serious approach to protecting massage therapists, hired by the League as an important part of athletes’ care teams. Over 300 media outlets across the country picked up the statement, with a potential consumer audience of over 200 million readers/viewers, as we worked to advance the message on safety and advocate for our massage therapy profession.

  • During AMTA’s National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, reporters from Cleveland’s local Fox 8 and WKYC 3 along with an NFL reporter with the Associated Press were onsite to cover the topic of massage therapists’ safety. In addition to local television coverage, the AP story on massage therapists and safety was picked up widely, including locally in Cleveland by The Plain Dealer/, and nationally by outlets including The Washington Post

Looking ahead, AMTA will continue to shine a light on the importance of safety for massage therapists. We will strongly advocate for all massage therapists to receive a higher level of respect and support to ensure that they can practice massage therapy in the safe, professional environment that they rightfully deserve.

We look to the future with hope and optimism.

Michaele Colizza, Your AMTA National President