Profession Has Yet to Define Medical Massage Says AMTA

For Immediate ReleaseMedia Contact:April 22, 2005Ron Precht 847-905-1649 

Profession Has Yet to Define Medical Massage Says AMTA

(Evanston, IL - April 22, 2005) - The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) Board of Directors is writing to state boards regulating massage therapy advising them that the massage therapy profession has not yet agreed upon a definition of the term ‘medical massage’. The association believes that information on this term and the issues surrounding it are unclear for massage therapists, massage schools, regulators, employers, healthcare facilities and the public.

In recent months, proposals have been made to some regulatory bodies to accept a ‘medical massage’ certification exam and regulate ‘medical massage’ separate from massage therapy. AMTA believes it would be premature for a state regulatory board, state legislature or municipal body to make decisions regarding special credentials for what might be designated ‘medical massage’ until all stakeholders in the massage therapy profession have an opportunity to define the term.

“There are many massage therapists who refer to their practices as medical massage,” said AMTA President Mary Beth Braun. “However, it is another matter for a regulatory body to require a specific credential for practicing ‘medical massage’ when so many definitions for the term are being used without key stakeholder consensus. The term ‘medical’ has legal meaning in some states. So a definition for ‘medical massage’ could only be determined when stakeholders in the massage therapy profession, the medical professions, credentialing bodies and regulatory bodies have provided input into a definition of the term.”

It is AMTA’s point of view that the massage therapy profession needs to expand its body of knowledge to include core terminology, scope of practice and baseline competencies and generally agreed-upon baseline education standards. However, neither baseline educational standards nor a scope of practice could be determined without agreed upon definitions for key terms such as ‘medical massage’.

“All of the massage therapy trade publications, including ours, have been discussing ‘medical massage’ for a long time,” said Braun. “That discussion is healthy, because as professionals, we need to look at all the points of view and come up with a definition that makes sense.”

AMTA is currently gathering information from stakeholders both within and outside the massage therapy profession to inform the process of defining what could be called ‘medical massage’. AMTA believes that it is premature, at this time, for any action to be taken regarding ‘medical massage’ until the profession has an inclusive discussion, leading to agreement on definitions and place in the spectrum of massage education and practice.

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"As a professional member of AMTA, I have found comfort in knowing that all the effort I put into obtaining my massage certification is recognized and protected. AMTA standards validate the profession."

Kim K., AMTA member since 2003