CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Massage licensing, credentialing and the NCBTMB

Massage licensing, credentialing and the NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork): some comments and corrections from a massage therapist who tracks regulatory trends.

Our reader notes:

"It's worth noting that the NCBTMB it not without considerable controversy within the massage profession....

"The public accountability concerns fall under the limitations of the state action immunity rulings, as reviewed recently by Clark Havighurst in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. In 2005, concerns about the NCBTMB reached a point that a Federations of State Massage Therapy Boards was formed with the intent of fielding its own exam. Creation of this exam is currently progressing. This action was the culmination of years of concerns about the NCBTMB....The editorial in the current issue of "Massage Today" notes both the progress of the FSMTB in moving toward its own exam and the continuing organizational problems that the NCBTMB is having. Another potential issue is the mandating of "membership" in NCTMB rather than just requiring the exam. This gets ...

"Partly in response to NCBTMB "Massage Safety" campaigns, I wrote a
literature review for the Elsevier Journal, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies. A full preprint version of this is also available at
. During the same time period, Edzard Ernst wrote a similar review....

"It is next to meaningless in terms of defining evidence-based outcomes to practice and thus little help in deciding whether a practitioner has the training and experience to treat a specific client for a specific condition. I'm part of a "Massage Therapy Foundation" committee on "best practices." The committee is currently working on a white paper hoping to initiate a process for developing evidence-based guidelines for massage practice. One of my own contributions to this has been a review of current guideline practices and criteria.

"A preliminary draft of the white paper is going out the the foundation board, just today. The intention is to submit this for publication once it is more developed.

"The lack of content of current credentialing has spawned at least two "medical massage organizations". The focus those have taken has prompted my own efforts via a couple of Massage Today columns and a (yet another spare time) Massage Medical Applications Project (MMAP).

"Thanks for the review papers and CAMLaw Blog."

Thanks to this reader for a thoroughly documented response. Camlawblog readers, please note that the views quoted in this piece are solely those of our referenced commentator and not those of the blog. Nonetheless, it is good to receive updates and information from the community, and hopefully one day to leave a broader forum for such commentary.

Please note that our commentator has referenced the McKinnon Institute of Massage, with links to articles including some on injury prevention and care for dancers, articles on diversity of learning styles and facilitating the learning of "intuitive" skills, and an extensive annotated bibliography. There is also a review of governance issues in massage therapy (including state and local regulation).

See also Massage Therapy Programs Using Distance Education in Possible Jeopardy.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173