Kudos, and a Few Thumps on the Head

The year is winding down; all the award shows have been on television lately, and I’d like to give out a few of my own, along with a thump or two on the head of those who need it. Call me a critic! These are my opinions only and should not be construed as the opinion of anyone else.

Kudos to Rick Rosen for starting the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, and to the organization for putting on one of the best meetings I’ve ever attended earlier this year, and for taking the initiative to set some standards for teaching massage. If you are involved in massage education and you haven’t joined yet, I suggest you quit procrastinating.

Kudos to the Massage Therapy Foundation for all the work they do in promoting research in the field, and in particular for offering classes in Teaching Research Literacy. And to Ruth Werner for being such a fabulous ambassador for the organization.

Kudos to the executive officers and chairs of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, the American Massage Therapy Association, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation, the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, the Massage Therapy Foundation, and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork for coming together this year at the Leadership Summit, and particular kudos to Bob Benson of ABMP for taking the responsibility for making that happen.

Kudos to Paul Lindamood, former CEO of the NCBTMB, for doing such a great job in putting that organization’s finances back in order. I was very sorry to see him go.

Kudos to AMTA, in particular the Oregon Chapter, and Glenath Moyle, National President, for putting on one of the best conventions in my memory. Kudos also the the thousands of AMTA members who volunteer at their chapters and the national level.

Kudos to ABMP for their generosity in allowing everyone, regardless of what organization they belong to (or none at all) to read Massage & Bodywork Magazine online for free, and for providing the huge forum at www.massageprofessionals.com, which is also open to everyone.

Kudos to Facebook. Not only are they my favorite place to hang out online, they are also spending millions of dollars building their new data center in my hometown, and providing much-needed employment in a very economically depressed area.

Kudos to Dr. Christopher Moyer, Bodhi Haraldsson, Paul Ingraham, Ravensara Travillian, Alice Sanvito, Rose Chunco, and the other folks out there who keep beating the drum for Evidence-Based Practice of massage.

Kudos to Jan Schwartz, Whitney Lowe, and Judith McDaniel of Education Training and Solutions. They don’t toot their own horn enough about some of the excellent work they have done for the Massage Therapy Foundation, the World Skin Project, and in general advancing excellence in online education.

Kudos to Angie Patrick of Massage Warehouse for her tireless work in the Sanctuary and raising money through massage for the Massage Therapy Foundation, the Liddle Kidz Foundation, and other worthy causes.

Kudos to all the massage therapists in the trenches, who give of their time in performing community service and their income to support deserving populations and those who can’t afford massage. I know hundreds of them so I just can’t list them all here, but every day, someone is out there donating the awesome power of touch in hospices, abused women’s shelters, the VA hospitals, homeless shelters, and hospitals. Bless them all.

Kudos to all those teachers out there who have what I refer to as “a higher calling.” Those who are teaching hospice massage, cancer massage, pediatric massage…There are too many to name, but they are led to work with the sick, the dying, the special-needs. Bless them all, and those they teach.

Kudos to any massage school and/or instructor who is teaching their students to be research literate.

And now, a few thumps on the head. The names have been omitted so as not to put the magazines who publish my blog in danger of a lawsuit, but you know who you are:

A thump on the head to the therapists who say “I’m better than any doctor or chiropractor. I will heal you when they can’t.”

A thump on the head to the therapists who say “I don’t refer out to anybody. No one is as good as I am.”

A thump on the head to the therapists who say to their clients “You really need this  (expensive water filter, nutritional supplements, foot patches, juice by so-and-so) etc that I am selling.”

A thump on the head to the therapists who say “I don’t need continuing education. I already know everything there is to know.”

A thump on the head to the therapists who impose energy work on every client who gets on their table, as if it is some God-given right, when the client hasn’t asked for it, doesn’t want it or believe in it, and it hasn’t been discussed.

A thump on the head to the therapists who are telling their clients that massage is detoxifying them and that they need to drink a lot of water to flush out their toxins.

A thump on the head to the therapists on massage forums who can’t behave and can’t have civil discourse, and instead resort to name-calling and personal attacks.

A thump on the head to the therapists on Facebook who are identifying themselves as MTs and posting pictures of themselves that look like they belong in the centerfold of Hustler.

I could thump all day–and give kudos all day–but I’ll save some for a future blog.

19 Replies to “Kudos, and a Few Thumps on the Head”

  1. Great blog Laura. You’ve made me aware of a couple of organizations I wasn’t really aware of. I’ll be looking them up. And as a member of ABMP, I get the magazine for free – didn’t realize they offered the online version to everyone at no charge. I really like those guys – I’ve been a member there since day one, and have been nothing but happy.
    I was talking with one of my colleagues (Terry McLain) not long ago, and we were agreeing together about how much you had done for the massage community and what an incredible resource you were to all of us. I am so grateful for your abundance mentality and your willingness to share with all of us. I’ve only been practicing for almost 6 years (in Feb.) and I love to learn. I tend to immerse myself in whatever I am doing. I am blessed with a very busy practice, and being able to tap into your knowledge base is a very productive use of my time!
    I pray your are blessed four fold for all of your generosity. I and many others value your opinion. You’ve been deeper in the trenches and farther out in the world than I may ever get – so being able to benefit from your experience is a real treat. As always, I may not agree with everything opinion, but having a different perspective keeps and open mind, and gives one pause to think. And that is what it’s all about !

    Warm Regards,

  2. Thank you, Laura. I appreciate the shout out, ad the Kudos. So many people work to make SANCTUARY successful and my thanks go out to ALL of them. Your blogs ALWAYS, WITHOUT FAIL show me something I did not know. I am thankful you write from your heart, straight forward and honestly.
    Sometimes I might get Kudos, sometimes I might be a THUMPEE…but nonetheless I enjoy your blogs tremendously.
    Thank you for everything you do.

  3. Kudos to Laura Allen for speaking your truth and welcoming civil discourse. We are all raised up when we challenge our world-views and you help us do it in constructive ways.
    Thanks for the MTF plug too!

  4. Laura,
    Your blogs are always spot-on!

    And I’m going to just take a moment to add one more Kudo to all our wonderfully, appreciative clients, for whom we would not even be in business if it weren’t for them.

    and a (gentle, encouraging) Thump to all those people who could be so helped by us for whatever ails them, who, for whatever reasons have not yet decided to invest in themselves through our services. (I’m convinced, with our industry’s community outreach, education and cooperation, it is merely a mater of time, until more people are awakened to the value & benefits they can receive in the hands of competent therapists!)


  5. Laura, thanks for such kind words. I’m honored to be mentioned in such venerable company. I appreciate your tireless work for the massage community and your continuous efforts to speak up for professionalism. It’s a pleasure to know you.

  6. Speaking as a relative new-comer, it is a tremendous privilege to be surrounded by such an incredibly talented, dedicated group of people. Our profession is in very capable hands!

  7. Your blog was better than any of the TV award shows, Laura. You did neglect to give kudos to yourself (never an easy thing to do), but your blog is one of the most important resources of “inside baseball” info on our profession. You are also willing to take a stand on topics, voicing well-informed “opinions” that put positions in perspective. You advocate for causes that deserve the profession’s support. By beating on the drum for the Alliance and the Foundation, you’re calling the right tune to get this profession dancing beautifully. So, kudos to you, kid!

  8. Laura,

    Thank you for your presence on-line. You are a constant voice, whether one agrees with you or not, that activates our minds and stimulates discourse. I appreciate and enjoy the forum you have created.

    Kudos and hats off to you for doing it so consistently and so well. Your dedication to our field is truly appreciated.

    Thanks for your support of the Alliiance for Massage Therapy Education and recognizing it for the vital role it plays in our profession.

  9. KUDOS to Paul Lindmood????? Give me a break, Laura. The NCBTMB finally saw how phony he was and not capable, nor have the experience, to hold a CEO position at over $200K a year! Good riddance!

  10. Thank you Laura, you are always honest and speak from your heart, I really appreciate and enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for sharing and caring enough to say the right things! =-)


  11. I have a couple of thumps. I would like to know why it is important for massage therapist who performs manual labor to educate themselves to be research literate? Are we preparing massage therapists for employment in another field so they earn a livable wage because research will not increase massage wages. I notice that 99% of all massage studies are performed using Swedish massage and reflexology which concerns about the NCBTMB trying to push a new advanced certification exam just to keep themselves viable and make more money other than testing.

    The massage profession has never operated in such a fashion and I am always curious as to why people why to change the massage wheel of success. The public has been educated for over a hundred years about massage specialties and that is the path for massage success for a massage therapist is to be specialized in a massage modality like reflexology, Thai massage, Hot Stone, etc. How will the advanced practitioner exam from the NCBTMB have any affect on skill proficiency in the massage modalities when it will be another generalized exam? The massage world got into trouble when the NCBTMB took over the practical state exams and made it a computer exam which does not establish any skill proficiency or natural attrition for the massage profession. Oh yes, when proficiency was left for the schools to decide who is proficient after paying their tuition and where this profession started losing ground along with stretching a 500 hour program into a two year program. What a crime for a vocation profession.

    Then how will any more education bring more money to the individual massage therapist other than keep massage groups touting power over the massage profession? I take a survey at all my live seminars and on the website and I have yet to receive a yes from a massage therapist only to the question, Do you want a career that involves working with blood or sick people? People who want to work with the sick or with blood usually become nurses or choose another profession in the healthcare community.

    Who the heck is pushing the massage profession towards healthcare? #1 we do not have the education which brings up the biggest elephant in the room which is the massage curriculum which is outdated and ricidiculous. Why in the world does a massage therapist need to know the digestive, endocrine, urinary, etc. systems? Are we to become GI internists or other medical specialists? When I taught PTs and OTs and for their five years of minimum education they never learned one thing about the digestive system etc. They studied of all things bones and muscles and how the levers needed assistance after surgery or injury.

    No wonder massage therapists think they know everything when they come out of school. They are taught so much smoke no wonder they flounder in the field which brought on the massage franchises. (Reminds me when I attended the Massage Foundation in Seattle, WA a couple years back and many Canadian massage therapist groups attended being so close to the border and they were amazed how little massage skills were taught but lots of ‘massage’ education was really taught in massage schools. The Canadian LMTs thought the USA massage therapists thought they knew it all and were quite frustrated with their attitudes. I can understand since a Canadian massage therapy license requires 3 years of education in most Canadian Providences.

    My frustration if you haven’t noticed is for those who are making policy actually have no clue of massage success in the field. They are making policy from pipe dreams and ideology that is not practical for the massage profession. So, no matter how much education a massage therapist has there is a cap to earning potential in the massage field if you haven’t noticed or have not worked in the field and made a living exclusively from massage therapy long term.

    Then back to my other point, 99% of massage therapists do not want to work with blood or with the sick and plus the biggest factor why massage therapy is not healthcare as it is a preventative measure for healthy folks to keep going. Plus there is no money in healthcare for a mere 500 hours of education.

    Let’s be honest here and call massage therapy for what it is. Massage therapy is not intended to be brain surgery it is human touch to provide soothing relaxation. Most people have 4 to 8 years in the field so there isn’t even enough time to advance. 80% of massage therapists work part time. The big revolving door in the massage field is how massage schools, massage suppliers and I have to admit continuing education providers stay in business.

    I have tried to teach advanced levels of reflexology but the massage therapists do not stay in the field long enough for the advanced levels. They don’t make enough money, or hurt themselves and they are on to the next career before their massage student loans are paid off.

    Something changed in the massage profession in the last twenty years where people are burning out faster than ever. I wonder what it could be? Schools need to have massage clinics in a public setting instead of profiting in house. By not having massage clinics in public settings like living asst. homes, sports complexes, etc. the word about massage is not getting out to the public to open up more job avenues. Massage therapy has the same job avenues as 50 years ago.

    So back to the original frustration. How will making a massage therapist a better researcher help them make more money performing manual labor? I think having a solid education about the musculo-skeletal and lymphatic system and especially muscle actions is what they need. Sorry I am from the old school and broke my back making a living in massage with a B.S. and M.Ed. degrees that did nothing to increase my massage wages while performing the manual labor. I am very smart but massage therapy is all about working with freeing up the levers and there is no other way to perform massage therapy than by manual manipulation. No wiggling the nose magic here.

    Massage is manual labor please do not lose site of this fact when making castles in the sky goals for this manual labor profession. You cannot make massage more than what it is and it is great stuff for what it is. Massage has no other competition when it is about relaxation. Start making it more than what it is and we are now competing with PTs, OTs, PTAs, OTAs, etc. without the education and CONTINUING EDUCATION IS NOT THE FORUM TO MAKE UP FOR THE LACKS IN BASIC MASSAGE SCHOOL. Spa massage and relaxation massage therapists have 20 years or more in the field but these quirky new and unproven techniques being taught today are killing the massage business and massage therapists before their time.

    To reiterate: There is a cap on massage earnings which the massage franchises have certainly proven. Yes, yes there are exceptions out there as I was one but those were in the old days and few exceptions today that can claim they make over $50K annually working as the massage therapist, if they are honest. Unless the human body has changed in the last 50 years then we need to get back to basics in the massage world before technology completing wipes massage therapy as a profession off the map as it has done to so many other professions.

    Oh, and one other thing is that I noticed about the massage studies is that the people performing the work in the studies are not necessary performed by massage therapists and sometimes are nurses aides participating in the studies. Human touch is always beneficial and one does not need a massage therapy license to get the great results. So these studies may not be so beneficial to the individual massage therapist but encourages a general “stacking the deck” to be performed by anyone in the healthcare world. Sorry, I have been a licensed massage therapist for over 25 years and my purpose has always been for improved wages for the individual massage therapist and exposing the politics for what they are and as I see it in the massage profession.

    Thanks Laura for your ‘in the know’ blog and the opportunity to rant out 2011 and make way for new good things to come in 2012 like Webinars!

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