NCBTMB Elections: Massaging the Rules, Part II

The NCBTMB sent out the following press release just a few minutes ago, signed by new Chair Leena Guptha:

My fellow Certificants,

As the Chair of NCBTMB, I would like to thank those community members and friends who asked legitimate questions about the Board nominations process. NCBTMB expeditiously and seriously looked into the issues regarding recent election candidates for the public member Board seat. Two nominees had been proposed for the soon to be vacant public member position. The NCBTMB Bylaws state, in relevant part, that:

A Director who is a public member shall not be a Certificant or a practitioner of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork within three (3) years of election, and shall have no material financial interest in the field of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork.

In the case of Susan Landers, due to her closeness to the profession in her role as a Continuing Education Health Coordinator overseeing several programs including a 780-hour massage therapy program, it appeared that Ms. Landers may not fully meet the criteria for public member. Ms. Landers gracefully offered to withdraw her candidacy and NCBTMB accepted her withdrawal.

In the case of Dr. Stuart Watts, NCBTMB determined that
Dr. Watts:
a) does not hold a certification in massage therapy and bodywork
b) has not practiced in the field of massage therapy and bodywork for the past 10 years and remains retired from Oriental Bodywork
c) has no material financial interest in the field of therapeutic massage and or bodywork

As a result, NCBTMB confirms that Dr. Stuart Watts complies with NCBTMB’s Bylaws and therefore, remains as the only nominee for the public member Board seat.

Yours respectfully,
Dr. Leena Guptha

I’m calling BS on this one, people. As I said in last week’s post, I do not personally know Watts or have anything bad to say about him, other than my opinion that he is inappropriate as a candidate for public member (I do still maintain that he would be totally suitable if he were put forth as a candidate for therapist member). This response is just as inappropriate as his candidacy.

Watts is the current treasurer (and has served in that position for 16 years) of the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia. My research shows that it is an unpaid volunteer position, so he personally is not receiving money to do that, but I would classify being a treasurer of a national organization as having a financial interest.

Although the NCBTMB is stating that he is not currently certified in massage therapy or bodywork, that’s a crock. According to the AOBTA website, he is currently certified as a practitioner and an instructor of Shiatsu, which is clearly a form of Asian bodywork. Although his massage license is expired in New Mexico, his Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine license was just renewed in June 2013. That does not seem to indicate retirement.

I know for a fact that the NCBTMB has received a number of communications about this, including some from their own former Board members who have voiced their concern.

According to the current NCBTMB By-Laws, as published on the NCBTMB website, a Public member is not to be a practitioner of Massage Therapy and/or Bodywork.  In the past, any practitioner of Bodywork, including Oriental medicine, would have prohibited Mr. Watts from serving on the Board in the role of Public member.Those bylaws have not changed. They are merely being ignored to suit the organization.

Susan Landers, the only other public member candidate, was in fact deemed to be inappropriate due to her status as a current CE coordinator in a massage program, and voluntarily removed herself from the ballot. I suggest that this entire election should be redone. I also suggest that if it isn’t, it’s a case of ignoring their own bylaws, and one more nail in the coffin they seem to be hellbent on building for themselves.

To the NCBTMB Board of Directors, including newly seated Chair Dr. Leena Guptha, the election committee, and Executive Director Steve Kirin, I am calling on you to make this right. There is nothing wrong in saying “we screwed up.” There is EVERYTHING wrong in denying that you have screwed up and letting a big mistake like this stand. Any decision by your Board, once he is seated, could be subject to challenge. I don’t think this organization can stand too many more challenges, quite frankly.

7 Replies to “NCBTMB Elections: Massaging the Rules, Part II”

  1. It’s like a comedy of errors. Can this organization do anything well and right? I wash my hands of them. Thank goodness for state licensure so we can begin to get free of such incompetence in this profession in the US.

  2. Originally, the NCB was created to be helpful to massage therapists. In the beginning they were. The test helped with portability – it was written in such a way as to be fair to bodyworkers and massage therapists – so it promoted unity within the larger profession. They were administratively responsive. I had no questions about its motives. It was a good thing.

    I don’t know the details from inside, but this has changed over the years. Now the NCB has made therapists, educators and schools’ lives harder rather than easier – with hoops to jump through that distract us from our real work, rather than support it. Personally I considered their backing down from the unified exam to be a step backward. And of course there administration has been notoriously dysfunctional. And the workshop provider approval process has become ridiculously burdensome.

    The founding mission statement of my school is to run our school in a manner as healing as the subjects we teach – because my business partner and I had been associated previously with schools where that was not the case.

    I wish NCB had followed that mission statement. I know the field has changed and what had been easier has now become quite a bit harder to manage. And I’m sorry to say I wonder if the best service, NCB could offer to facilitate our profession is to dissolve itself.

    Short of that, they can borrow our mission statement and totally reconfigure so they are more devoted to healing within the profession. NCB, ask yourselves how could you reconfigure what you do to be a blessing to the massage profession, rather than something one is tempted to curse about.

  3. Hopefully an official response will come forth from NCB….. after reading this and the previous blog post, I looked at the AOBTA website ( and clicked the “About Us” table—then on the Board of Directors tab. This is what I found under Executive Committee at 7:48am on October 26, 2013:
    Stuart Watts
    Austin, TX 78757
    (term ends 7/1/2014)
    **I deleted his phone number from this post**

    Immediately after checking the AOBTA site, I checked the NCB website, scrolled to the bottom of the page and clicked bylaws, Here is what I found:

    6.2 Qualifications. No Director shall hold a national level office in another competing therapeutic massage and/or bodywork professional or trade organization………

    It does not say that “No Candidate….”, but as his term expires in July of 2014, I wonder if Mr. Watts has committed to resigning from the AOBTA? Surely the AOBTA would have issue with him (ethically) should he choose to violate bylaws of another, arguably competing organization, even if the NCB does not have issue with the apparent bylaw violation.
    Wait, perhaps NCBTMB does not consider AOBTA a competing organization. AOBTA website says “AOBTA® provides assessment-based professional certification for membership candidates who have completed the 500 Hour Curriculum.” So, for those bodyworkers who successfully complete a pre-approved 500 hour curriculum, receive professional certification. Er…..???

    I do apologize for my child-like detail as to how to look things up on the internet for those of you who have actually searched for information on websites. I offered the step-by-step detail so that those who vet potential candidates (committee/board members) would be able to understand how this process works.

    It is possible that NCB has changed their bylaws, but have yet to change them on the website?? My snark-o-meter is beginning to tremble….

    I have come to the conclusion that there is a soul-sucking virus that exists in the office building in OakBrook Terrace. I have met some absolutely amazing people who, after beginning service either as a volunteer or staff member, begin displaying the most bizarre behavior…….

    I wonder if this election debacle has anything to do with the former chair and the government relations liaison resigning? Maybe not directly, but there are clear indications of a sickly organization. Oh, how the “once mighty” fall.

    I’ve known Dr. Gupta for quite a few years…..I know she’s better than this….She knows she’s better than this….The Leena I know would attack this mess head on, all the while smiling her ambassador smile and wearing an impeccable suit.

    I must report that I am displaying symptoms or another type of NCB-related disease called apathetic-oma. It is highly contagious, and from I understand the disease is now being classified as pandemic.

  4. In all fairness to Leena Guptha, the bylaws of the NCBTMB prevent her from voting on matters before the BOD, UNLESS there is a tie. Although this letter was signed by her as the Board Chair, it could well be that she did not even have a say in the matter.

  5. It’s painful to watch one of the primary stakeholder organizations in our field acting so badly on such a consistent basis. NCBTMB was birthed up by leaders from within the massage and bodywork profession, and the early stages of its national certification program did provide a recognized credentialing program that was valuable — especially to practitioners in non-licensed states.

    NCB became “corporatized” some years ago — and its messaging and methods began to shift — when it hired an Ohio-based ad agency. The organization was awash in exam revenues, and its leaders spent it on travel to luxury destinations for their quarterly Board meetings, as well as lavish parties to “thank” their volunteers.

    These “glory days” for NCB began to decline with the 2007 introduction of the MBLEx by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. As you may recall, NCB spent millions of dollars on a brutal campaign to kill off the MBLEx and keep their cash cow intact. Not only did NCB fail in that endeavor, they alienated a large portion of profession.

    Now that we have state-based regulation in all but six states, generalist certification has been rendered moot. NCB pulled the Advanced Certification credential off the table just before launching that program, and replaced it with the new “Board Certification” credential.

    From what I’ve observed, the profession’s response to this new program has been deafening silence. Only a few thousand of the 80,000 people who are Nationally Certified have taken the easy path to “grandfather” into the upgraded credential without having to take the new Board Certification Examination. How many have stepped up to take this test and qualify for NCB’s marvelous career-boosting credential? I’ve heard the suggestion that it may be in the low two-digits.

    NCB is out of tricks, and getting low on money. They have worn out their welcome and no longer have a product that meets the needs of our profession. It’s like trying to sell 8-Track tapes in an MP3 world. Nobody’s buying, and no one cares any more. The sound you’re hearing is the wind howling through empty NCB offices.

  6. Laura, this is one of the biggest problems in our profession people who go to massage school and profess to be a massage therapist. I am in profession for 50 years and have seen many things happen. When you look at any leadership in any of the massage therapy organizations be it a membership organization a regulating body or even the body of knowledge type group, when you examine each person in each group and look at their back round you will find that often there is only maybe one or two people who actually do massage or have ever practiced massage. I could go “chapter and verse” with anyone and prove my point

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