Who Has OUR Backs?

Who is really looking out for the interests of massage therapists? Among all the entities we give our hard-earned money to, it would seem that when we’re in a pinch, we can’t drum up much support for ourselves.

I’m incensed at the Ethics Committee of the NCBTMB for selectively choosing which parts of the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics they are going to honor, and which parts they are going to cast aside.

Many therapists have received a letter from the NCBTMB, detailing their refusal to give any consideration to the complaints they received about Steph Lasch and her behavior towards fellow massage therapists. They have cited the Preamble to the Standards, which states that “NCBTMB requires certificants and applicants for certification to conduct themselves in a highly professional and dignified manner. NCBTMB will not consider and/or adjudicate complaints against certificants and applicants for certification that are based solely on consumer related issues or are based on competitive marketplace issues.” I have been told that they refused to even look at the complaints and supporting documentation.

They seem to have the idea that this is all about money. It is not just all about money. It is about a person who gets to claim National Certification status, who has systematically behaved unethically towards fellow massage therapists, most of whom were either new to the profession and/or already struggling in their businesses, and looking for help in order to do better. It is about the numerous people that she blocked from all contact whenever they questioned her about their missing goods or services that they had paid and contracted for. It is about the numerous people who suffered not only a loss of money, but a violation of trust from a colleague who had vowed to uphold the Code and Standards.

The NCBTMB has decided to take the stance that since the people who were taken advantage of are massage therapists, and not massage clients, that these complaints don’t matter. I beg to disagree. If you are going to treat your own colleagues in an unethical manner, my thought is you wouldn’t have any problem doing the same to clients.

First of all, let’s look at II) of the Code of Ethics:  “Represent their qualifications honestly….”  Lasch held herself out to be a CPA, a status that she does not have.That claim assisted her in obtaining the social security and employer identification numbers of numerous massage therapists that she filled out taxes for, while failing to provide them with her signature or preparer identification number.

Then there’s VII) “Conduct their business and professional activities with honesty and integrity…”  Really? Ask any of the dozens of people who have been affected what they have to say about that.

Finally, there’s XV) Avoid any interest, activity or influence which might be in conflict with the practitioner’s obligation to act in the best interests of the client or the profession.”

The inclusion of the word “profession” there clearly demonstrates a responsibility to those who make up this profession. It’s my opinion that they’re ignoring their own Code of Ethics and passing the buck.

AMTA has not removed Lasch from the membership rolls, either, and realistically, it wouldn’t do much good if they did. If anyone there thinks they think they are being investigated, they just cancel their membership, go to another organization to get insurance, and don’t miss a beat.

Among all the law enforcement that has been contacted over this matter, I’m unaware of anyone getting a response to their complaints, with the exception of several complainants who have received packets from the Attorney General of MN, advising them of other entities to complain to, and many have. However, in the general scheme of murder, mayhem, and meth labs, a massage therapist bilking people is probably not a high priority for the law, either.

There’s no state massage board in MN, although there is a quasi-governmental agency that “oversees” unlicensed health care providers, including MTs. State boards are all about public protection. They would take a license away if a client persuaded the board of wrong-doing on the part of a massage therapist, but like the NCBTMB, they might refuse to view a massage therapist as a client, although this entire hoopla has indeed revolved around massage.

NCBTMB Chair Sue Toscano resigned yesterday, citing personal reasons. Leena Guptha, a former President of National AMTA, was the Chair-Elect and has moved into the job. Leena is a goodwill ambassador wherever she goes, but she definitely has her work cut out for her. Lori Ohlmann, who often represented the NCB as their government relations person at state board meetings, has also resigned. She was a credit to the organization.

I also have to wonder about the elections at the NCBTMB. When people like Dr. Christopher A. Moyer and Glenath Moyle get passed over, I have to wonder about the common sense and/or biases of the committee. Dr. Moyer is one of the most respected researchers in the field of massage therapy. He has been vocal on social media about criticizing some of the claptrap that has been approved for CE credit. Glen Moyle is a past president of National AMTA and has been serving the profession for decades, including during a period of time when the organization had a few issues with the NCBTMB. God forbid they should get anybody there who might actually rock the boat.

So really, who has OUR backs? There were a few of us who tried to spread the information about where and how to file your complaints. There were dozens that did in fact complain. And yet, I feel relatively certain Lasch is sitting back and counting her money, happy as a clam, secure in the knowledge that our organizations aren’t doing anything to protect others from being victimized or giving any consideration to the ones that have already been victimized.

I can virtually guarantee that every certificant who received that letter from the NCBTMB will NOT renew their certification. So, NCBTMB, you can keep the one who has violated the Code, while you will be losing a number who have been proud to uphold it. Good move.

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