Meeting in the Middle

One of my fondest dreams is coming true! For several years I’ve been preaching the sermon on my blog that I wanted our national massage organizations to play nice together and it is happening! Earlier today I got the news that all seven of our major organizations will come together for a summit meeting in St. Louis on Sept 13-14. St. Louis is centrally located, and it’s neutral ground. None of the groups involved are headquartered there.

The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), Association Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA), Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF), and National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) will be coming together, according to the press release.

Earlier this year, I was fortunate to be included in the meeting hosted by the NCBTMB in Chicago, which was attended by all the organizations, except for the AFMTE. During that meeting, several people (including me) talked about the need for all the organizations to come together for the good of the profession. Bob Benson, Chairman of ABMP, stepped up to the plate as he often does and said that he would assume the responsibility for seeing to it that it happened. All the representatives of the attending organizations agreed that they would participate if such a meeting was convened.

According to the press release, the purpose is “to hold a beginning conversation about major structural issues and impediments to profession progress. The desire is to have candid exchange about core challenges, quality concerns, consumer expectations, and organizational roles. Each participating organization is contributing to creation of the specific agenda, which will be finalized at the beginning of the St. Louis meeting.”

All the organizations will be sharing equally in the cost of the meeting. Unfortunately, I won’t get to attend this meeting, but I understand the reason why. The press release further states that in order to promote candor in the meeting, neither the press nor the public will be allowed to attend, and there will be a joint press release issued after the meeting.

I’m sure this will be a lively meeting. Every one of these organizations has their own turf, and some of them are competitors. But I have long said that there’s room in the sandbox for everybody, and I firmly believe that.  Pete Whitridge, President, and Rick Rosen, Executive Director, will be representing the AFMTE; Glenath Moyle, President,  and Shelly Johnson, Executive Director, will be representing AMTA; Bob Benson, Chairman, and Les Sweeney, President, will be representing ABMP; Randy Swenson, Commissioner, and Kate Zulaski, Executive Director, will be representing COMTA; Debra Persinger, Executive Director, and Kathy Jensen, Vice President, will be representing FSMTB; Ruth Werner, President, and Shelly Johnson, Executive Director, will be representing the Massage Therapy Foundation, and Paul Lindamood, CEO, and Alexa Zaledonis, Board Chair, will be representing the NCBTMB.

These are all smart people. They all care deeply about the massage profession. They don’t always see eye to eye, and they may never see eye to eye, but this is a big step forward to me. I look forward to seeing what comes out of it, and I hope it will be good for everyone concerned.  When people come together for the purpose of problem solving, and leave their egos at the door, that’s a wonderful thing, and I hope that will be the spirit this is approached in. Kudos to them all for agreeing to it. I hope my fellow massage therapists will join me in holding good intentions for the highest good at this gathering and for these leaders to go in peace.

17 Replies to “Meeting in the Middle”

  1. Shelly Johnson will be representing both the Massage Therapy Foundation and AMTA since she serves as Executive Director for both. (You have her listed as Shelly Long for MTF)

  2. Thanks, Rachel! I knew that…I was watching a rerun of Cheers before I wrote it! LOL Must have had Shelly Long on the brain! It has been corrected.

  3. I would hope that, at the least, these groups could identify those areas where they are in agreement to move forward on from the start. Some are obvious and some may be less apparent, but cooperating on issues such as the proliferation of illicit massage, for instance, would seem like a no brainer and would help both build cooperative inroads and the public image of our profession. Feel free to look at my site for more information.

  4. Am pleased to see a continuation of joint meetings that first started in the early 2000s. There has been much goodwill and advancement of the profession over the past decade in large part through collaborative efforts.

  5. Yes, this forthcoming Leadership Summit is a sign that the massage therapy field is ready to take another step towards becoming a full-fledged profession. The previous “joint meetings” of stakeholder organizations mentioned by MK occurred before the existence of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (founded in 2005) and the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (founded in 2009).

    With FSMTB and AFMTE now in place, the regulatory community and the education community will have their designated representatives at the table for the first time as part of this kind of industry-wide discussion and strategic planning work.

    I’m personally heartened and excited by the prospects of what can come from these collaborations.

    Rick Rosen, MA, LMBT
    Executive Director, Alliance for Massage Therapy Education

  6. I been out of touch for a bit and just read this on Laura’s blog. I posted the link to my blog as well. There really is hope. I know all the people in attendance and trust them to function for the good of the profession as a whole even if it means each organization adapting to the other. I trust that as Laura says so well that they will all “play nice”. I expect a wonderful outcome and will monitor the results with diligence and support so long is the goal is best for the profession as a whole and not individual agendas. I am doing a happy dance.

  7. Could this be positive change? HEALERS, go fourth and spread the word! “Man was designed for accomplishments, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.” Zig Ziglar

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