Featuring a special video review of its new, ongoing consumer awareness program and a panel of leaders in integrative care, the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) national convention brought together 1,400 participants from October 3 to 6 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The association also announced the creation of a new Lifetime Achievement Award honoring educator Dianne Polseno, and presented a ceremonial check for $450,000 to the Massage Therapy Foundation.
Attendees were able to earn more than 20 hours of continuing education credit and enjoy the products and services of a wealth of exhibitors in the AMTA Exhibits Marketplace. They also could follow convention events through Twitter and Facebook posts, while many praised a new iPhone and Android app designed to help them find their way around the convention.
North Carolina Governor Beverly Eaves Perdue declared it Massage Therapy Week in the state and in a letter to AMTA said, “It is a privilege to join you in acknowledging the impact massage therapy has on the quality of life of countless citizens.”
The opening session of the convention began with a video presentation on the association’s commitment to increasing consumer awareness of the health benefits of massage therapy. Since it began its media relations program in May, the association has reached millions with its information. Since the launch of the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour in July, the association has engaged 13 cities, reached hundreds of thousands of potential clients, and worked with nearly 100 member volunteers.
AMTA President Cynthia Ribeiro further energized attendees and reminded them the program “is about educating the public in a direct way and increasing the potential to bring new business to our members.” She explained that AMTA members are reporting more new clients as a direct result of the consumer program.
In her presentation of the ceremonial check to the Massage Therapy Foundation, Ribeiro reinforced AMTA’s commitment to be the primary benefactor of the foundation, reflecting AMTA’s own research goals.
Representatives of all of the profession’s organizations were welcomed at the opening session, and keynote speaker Molly Barker touched the audience as she shared her inspirational story of self-empowerment and hope as an agent of change. Barker is the founder of Girls on the Run International, and an author who has received awards from Runner's World, Redbook and Woman's Day magazines and has been featured in Forbes and on national TV shows.
AMTA continued its very successful Student Day program, with 200 area students attending information sessions on planning for their careers and learning good business practices. Students also attended the exhibit hall and interacted with experienced massage therapists throughout the day.
The association’s House of Delegates approved three position statements to express AMTA’s views on how a growing body of research indicates the value of massage for specific health issues. The approved statements are on massage therapy for low back pain, improved sleep and fibromyalgia.
A special convention closing session panel of Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Steven Blair of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina; Dr. Dale Healey, dean of the School of Massage Therapy at Northwestern Health Sciences University; Dr. Adam Perlman of the Duke University Integrative Medicine Center for Living; and AMTA President Cynthia Ribeiro, Honorary Clinical Professor at the University of California-Irvine Medical School, discussed elevating the massage therapy profession through collaboration. The speakers told the audience that research on the benefits of massage therapy is growing rapidly and the medical community is starting to recognize the value of massage therapy in programs of integrative care. All speakers reminded attendees that learning the language of the medical community and how to collaborate is vital to the process of ensuring that the client is at the center of care.
AMTA Recognizes Volunteers
The Awards Ceremony for AMTA volunteers is an important part of the opening session of the annual convention, as individuals and chapters are recognized for their outstanding contributions to the association and the profession. The Distinguished Service Award was given posthumously to Dianne Polseno, for her profound impact on the profession and for having served AMTA and its members so extensively, especially in her writing for MTJ. She touched the lives of hundreds of students through her teaching, and in 2006 was awarded the AMTA Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award. Her sister Gail accepted the award on her behalf.
Chris Voltarel of California was recognized with the President’s Award. She has served on the AMTA National Chapter Relations Committee since 2001 and as its chair since 2003. Voltarel joined AMTA in 1993 and served as California Chapter President from 1998 to 2003. Since that time, she has served on at least 10 AMTA committees.
AMTA President Cynthia Ribeiro announced a new award to honor excellence for a person’s body of massage therapy work focused specifically on the area of teaching and education. Because she was such an inspiration to educators, students and practitioners for such a long time, the award is established in the name of Dianne Polseno as the Dianne Polseno Lifetime Achievement Award.
Other individual award recipients include:
- David Lauterstein (TX) – Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year
- Riva Naimark (NY) – Mentor of the Year Award
- Bruce Spicer (NJ) – Sports Massage Achiever Award
- Ed Connor (MA) – Humanitarian Award
- Maj-Lis Nash (TN) – Government Relations Activist Award
- Elaine Calenda (CO) – National Meritorious Award (posthumously)
A complete list of individual and chapter award recipients will soon be available on AMTA's website.
AMTA members convene for their convention each fall for educational workshops, information about current research on the efficacy of massage, association business meetings and a tradeshow. All massage therapist, massage therapy educators and students are welcome. The AMTA 2013 national convention will be held in Ft. Worth, Texas September 25-28.