NCBTMB Revokes/Suspends Diploma Mills

For over a year now, the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork has been working quietly behind the scenes to eradicate massage schools—or rather, diploma mills—that have been handing out fraudulent transcripts and diplomas, lacking any operating authority, and committing a host of other ethics violations. Since June of 2009, 11 schools have had their school code suspended, three have been revoked, and one school voluntarily withdrew their code after being notified that they were suspended.

To clarify the meaning of these actions, a school must have an assigned code in order for their students to sit for an examination offered by the NCBTMB. 39 states currently accept those exams, and they are often utilized by therapists in unregulated states who want to set themselves apart as professionals. No school code means no students from those schools will be able to take the NCB exams. California, where this investigation was concentrated, currently has voluntary registration for massage therapists, and is in fact in the middle of further turmoil because of AB 1822, a proposed massage bill that treats therapists little better than prostitutes. Even though the investigation and subsequently revoked and suspended schools are located in California, the implications are far-reaching, including my state of North Carolina.

Our Board noticed months ago that a high number of applicants for licensure were coming out of two schools in particular, one in California (the East-West School, which has had their code suspended pending further investigation) and one in New York. The applicants first attracted attention because they have all had the same address. In one instance in North Carolina, an applicant from one of the suspect schools was denied a license based on his criminal record. When he appeared to appeal that decision, we discovered he could speak no English. His daughter translated for him, and stated that they had immigrated to America based on the promise that they could go to massage school, get out quickly, and start making a lot of money. I actually feel sorry for these people, because the unscrupulous schools are just taking advantage of people who don’t know any better. It’s a sad situation for the students who paid money in good faith that they were going to get a real education in massage therapy.

While the NCBTMB has in the past revoked certification of individuals found guilty of ethics violations, this is their first widespread effort to put a stop to schools operating in an unethical manner.

Paul Lindamood, CEO of the NCB, gave me the following statement about the NCBTMB’s school compliance program:

NCBTMB is in a unique position with its vantage point on massage in America. Because we monitor, approve or exchange critical data at many touch points of the profession, we are at the nexus of a great deal of information flowing to and from our certification specialists. This gives us the ability to get an overall snapshot of the profession in specific areas relevant to schools, students, educational methods, curriculum, test dynamics, metrics, practitioner activity, etc.

About a year ago, members of our school outreach, compliance, eligibility and ethics departments identified the emergence of some alarming developments when overlaying and studying school data. Specifically, we began to spot ways in which individual schools were giving the appearance of impropriety through inconsistent and unreliable data, irregularities or shortfalls in curriculum standards, falsification of application information and the appearance of fraudulent activities sufficient to cast doubt on the legitimacy of these schools or institutions.

With this knowledge, NCBTMB board and staff recognized the need to immediately create a standardized, legally sound process that would allow us to identify, investigate, sanction or revoke suspected schools that could not pass muster, and thereby prohibit them from being able to have their graduates test via National Certification Exams. The program was developed and received board approval at the beginning of this year. Since then, school investigations have been ongoing via our compliance and ethics departments, and sanctions and revocations have been issued and communicated to the schools, state boards and pertinent law enforcement.

In addition, in the states and surrounding regions where these schools exist, we have made authorities aware of school code suspensions as well. This includes local law enforcement, regulatory agencies, state massage boards and attorneys general. Currently, we are working closely with law enforcement officials and state board representatives on investigations in several states, sharing both intelligence and resources.

As an important adjunct, NCBTMB is also supporting the Polaris Project, one of the largest organizations combating human trafficking in the United States and Japan. The non-profit group also works with
victims, providing outreach, social services and transitional housing.

How all massage professionals can help

NCBTMB would like everyone in the massage therapy community to join together with the goal of identifying schools, organizations or individuals that endanger the safety of the public and the reputation of our profession. If you observe or are aware of any suspicious activities or unethical behavior connected to the profession of massage therapy, please contact your state board or other applicable agency. Or you may contact Lauren Dziuban, NCBTMB Director of Ethics & Discipline, at (630) 652-0469 or or Paul Lindamood, CEO, at (630) 652-0456 or We will provide guidance or convey information to the proper authorities. In cases that affect NCBTMB and its programs, we will authenticate reports of impropriety and investigate as appropriate, whether school, institution, approved provider or certificant related.

This important initiative on the part of the NCBTMB is for the highest good of the profession. Not only has it cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to investigate these schools, it also impacts the National Board in lost revenue from the people who would have taken their exams. It’s obvious that they have decided to put ethics ahead of income, and I applaud that.
No one has been a more vocal critic of the NCBTMB in the past than I have, and I  told their leadership long ago that when there was any good news to report, I would report it. I’m very pleased to see this organization getting their act back together, and once again, I am proud to say I’m Nationally Certified, just like I was when I first started out in the massage profession. Kudos to them for recognizing the things that had gone wrong, and making an effort to correct them.

Thanks to Champ

I usually don’t blog about my husband, but this is my personal blog and I can do what I please so I want to take this opportunity to give my husband a little pat on the back.

Champ is turning 58 this week, and in a couple of months we’ll be married for 18 years. During that time, we’ve made it through a catastrophic illness, unemployment, and being broke…the same kinds of problems most other people have been through. We’ve had our ups and downs, and we’ve survived and thrived. I’ve only thought about killing him a couple of times.

In the past 18 years, we’ve had our arguments like any married couple, but I have to hand it to him–never once in all that time has he stepped on any of my dreams. If I say I want to do something, his first question is “What do you need me to do?” I travel a lot teaching. If I said I was going to the moon tomorrow to teach a class, he’d say “Do you want me to put your suitcase in the car?” If I say I’m going to play music with my friends, he grabs my guitar and either comes along or stays at home, whichever suits me, and doesn’t complain about it, either way.

I appreciate this all the more because Champ is my second husband…my first one (who doesn’t read my blog, I feel pretty sure, but I wish he’d see this one) was an abusive jerk who never supported anything I did. Bless his heart.

I had to kiss a few frogs to get a prince. He’s not perfect, but neither am I.  In fact, we’re pretty sure we stay together because no one else would put up with either one of us.

Happy Birthday and thanks, Champ.


The Evil One (and yes, that is his nickname for me).

Interesting Changes in COMTA By-laws

I reported in my May 5 blog that COMTA volunteer of more than ten years, John Goss, had been removed from his position, during a meeting he was unable to attend. That led to my reporting a personal experience I had with the organization; I heard through the grapevine that the officers were upset that I had given them negative publicity. I don’t owe them an apology, and there will not be one forthcoming.

I haven’t felt any need to revisit the issue, but an interested party sent me a copy of changes that COMTA had made to their by-laws, effective April 16. I received them while I was on vacation, am just now getting caught up on my correspondence, and I must say, it looks as if they might have been changed in anticipation of getting rid of Mr. Goss.

Here we have an interesting change:

Section 3.12:  A Commissioner who is present at a meeting of the Board at which action on any matter is taken shall be conclusively presumed to have assented to the action taken unless his or her dissent shall be entered in the minutes of the meeting. Such right to dissent shall not apply to a Commissioner who voted in favor of such action.

According to a COMTA insider, who prefers to remain anonymous, the minutes never record votes by commissioner per se unless that commissioner asks that his/her vote be specifically recorded, and since few know this, this section seems intended to silence dissent.  Basically, it says that if you were there, you assented—regardless of how you voted unless it is specifically recorded in the minutes.  The ByLaws do not require votes to be recorded on a roll-call basis.  Seems this is needed before Section 3.12 can be enforced.

Then we have these:

Section 3.14: …In addition, a Commissioner may be removed without cause by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the Commissioners then in office.

and to top it all off:

Section 4.2:  … Any officer may be removed by the Board of Commissioners at any time with or without cause, whenever the Board of Commissioners believes the best interest of the Corporation would be served thereby.

I stated in my earlier blog that Goss was known for asking hard questions and holding members accountable.  When I contacted COMTA leadership for a quote, before printing my blog about Goss, I got the answer that he was thanked for his past service and wished well in the future.  Later on, COMTA Chair Melissa Wade e-mailed me that due to confidentiality, they could not tell me why Goss was removed, but assured me that if I was elected to the Commission I would have access to the file. Obviously, that’s not happening.

It looks to me like the amended section 4.2 will allow the Commissioners to remove anybody that disagrees with them, or makes them mad in anyway. When you put yourself in the position of being able to remove someone without just cause, what does that translate to? We can remove you if we don’t like your tie? Your attitude? Your questioning our authority?

Board documents, such as practice acts, rules, by-laws and guidelines of any board are living documents, subject to change as time and experience show a need. Hopefully they are always changed with an eye to improving the public protection, service to stakeholders, or whatever the particular entity is charged with doing. I’m not sure that’s the case here.

I’d like to remind the folks at COMTA that big egos at the top, a lack of transparency, poor service to stakeholders,  and changing by-laws to suit whomever is in charge at the time, are the very things that came within a hair’s breadth of bringing down the NCBTMB. I wouldn’t get too carried away with making changes like the ones above. As the present NCB leadership who inherited just such a mess to clean up can attest, it’s not going to serve your organization well at all.

Laura Allen

Louisiana Board under the Microscope

On May 20, Robert Travis Scott, a reporter for the Times-Picayune, filed the following story about the Louisiana Board of Massage Therapy, reprinted here in its entirety (Scott’s story is in italics):

Current and former board members of the Louisiana State Board of Massage Therapy are raising concerns about possible conflicts of interest in the agency’s hiring decisions.

The board, which licenses and regulates massage therapists, has seven volunteer members appointed by the governor based on nominations from professional associations. The board is backed normally by about three full-time paid staff employees. The board terminated its former executive director effective March 18 and started a hiring process.

One of the first applications was from Leslie Hill, an assistant to the special assistant in the governor’s office of boards and commissions, which collects nominations for the state’s professional and public service boards and suggests appointments to the governor. Hill said she was involved in the appointment process for members of the massage board. While she was in that office, seven members of the board were named in 2008 and three members were replaced in October.

Hill, who has a background in massage therapy, applied for the position of executive director, which led to a discussion among some board members of whether hiring her would create an ethics problem because of her former role assisting with board appointments. After consulting with the attorney general’s office, board chairwoman Mary Donker Syvertsen concluded that Hill’s hiring would not violate the state ethics code. The board hired Rhonda McManus as its new executive director at a salary of $75,000 and hired Hill for the No. 2 job in the office at $65,000, which was $30,000 more than her pay in the governor’s office.

The board’s employment ad called for an executive director and staff and made no mention of the salaries offered. McManus was not given the opportunity to participate in selecting and hiring Hill, who was to become her chief staff member. Syvertsen said she spoke with McManus the day the board was going to vote on the new hires and asked McManus then if hiring Hill would be OK.

Two board members have raised questions about the hiring. One of those is Bruce Evans, who said he has nothing against Hill but objects to the hiring process and did not think it was right for a gubernatorial-appointed board to hire someone from the governor’s appointment office. The other dissenting board member is Jan Debenedetto, who said Hill would be making a higher salary than past staff members and that she was surprise the new executive director had no say in hiring staff. “I think that the way it was handled was wrong on every level,”Debenedetto said.

Vernon Smith, a former leader of the massage board and massage associations, said he thinks Hill’s hiring has inappropriate. Syvertsen and board member Suzanne Schwing said Hill was qualified for the job and that nothing illegal was done in hiring her. Hill said she had no ties to board members and that her application and hiring was a fair and normal process.

Kyle Plotkin, a spokesman for Gov. Bobby Jindal, released a statement saying, “We expect any board, when hiring, to select the most qualified candidate in a fair process.” Another recent disruption at the board is the revelation that two board members have been under investigation for violations of board rules. The issue was brought up during a board meeting earlier this year by an agency attorney, who did not name the members. (End of story)

As a member of a state massage therapy board myself, I can vouch for the fact that board members (of any public board) are constantly warned to not only avoid conflicts of interest, but to also avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest. It appears that the Louisiana Board is walking on thin ice here, and kudos to the Board members who are questioning these actions. Although there is no clear-cut violation, there is certainly the appearance of one. I’d definitely like to be making $30,000 more a year myself, but I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t want my ethics called into question if I was getting it through my ties to the massage board I’m serving on or have been associated with in some other capacity.

A couple of years ago, the Airport Authority in my county had a similar situation, where sitting members who were privy to information jumped headlong into a position to make themselves a lot of money, to the exclusion of other citizens who may have been more qualified, and who at a minimum should have been offered the fair chance to bid on the scheme that was proposed at the time. The Board members who were accused had a rather unique way of handling the charges of unethical behavior that were leveled against them at the time: they voted to suspend all discussion of professional ethics for a period of six months. As you can imagine, I blistered them a new one in the local newspaper.

Anyone who serves on, or is associated with, a public board is sometimes faced with an opportunity to advance a personal agenda, or their personal finances, through their access to insider information. It’s a potential abuse of power when that happens, and it ought to be called into question. If it turns out that no wrong-doing has been done, well and good. Most of the time, if the person in question acts to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, they’ll have to pass on that opportunity, if good conscience and common sense prevails. Board members violating their own rules and/or their own code of ethical behavior is never a good thing. It will almost always come to light, and not in a good way.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

You Can’t Please Everybody

I’m not referring to giving a massage…I’d like to think everyone that I’ve ever massaged was pleased, but in this instance, I’m talking about my blogs.

I try to report the news in the world of massage politics, and I interject my comments and opinions. I try to spur people to take action when I think it’s needed, whether that’s contacting a legislator or one of the professional associations or just spreading the word to other therapists.

Of course, not everyone agrees with me, and that’s okay. I’m not here to win a popularity contest, and I would probably keel over from the shock if I didn’t get the occasional angry phone call or snarky e-mail, or opposing comments on the blog from people who don’t see it the same way I do. I don’t censor comments except for really profane language, so even if you call me a moron, it will still be printed.

Occasionally I get an e-mail from one of my mentors trying to rein me in. They’re worried that my comments are too controversial, or that I’m going to infuriate the wrong person or some entity on the whole. While I appreciate their concern, I have to follow my conscience, speak my mind, and let the chips fall where they may.

When I’m reporting on an action concerning a person or an entity that I name in the blog, I am careful to report what’s verifiable; I only want to print what’s true. While I state opinion, it is never my intention to slander anyone by printing unfounded malicious gossip and therefore leave myself open to a lawsuit.  Believe me; I don’t print half of what I hear. Some of it has no relevance to the political issue at hand. I leave out juicy details sometimes, because I don’t think it would serve any useful purpose to include it. I’m not the National Enquirer talking about Tiger Woods cheating on his wife, although I do hear some of that occasionally. If it’s not relevant to massage, it’s not my business.

Sometimes I know the person, and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I meet them after the fact. That’s always interesting. If it’s someone in the legislative or representative community and they’re not at the top of my radar, I sometimes ask people if I’ve written anything about them!

When I am reporting on political action by someone in the massage world, it isn’t a commentary on their personal life. I can disagree with some action that one of the leaders of an organization has taken and blog about that, and it doesn’t at all mean that I think that person is a bad parent, or a bad friend, or an all-around bad person. It means I am wondering what the heck they were thinking when they took whatever action I am writing about.

Even though I may disagree with someone in one of our organizations, I still appreciate the fact that the person is in service at all, particularly when it’s a volunteer position, and most board member positions are just that.

Sometimes, though, there is the occasional incident of getting one’s self positioned in an organization in the interest of making a lot of money, if there’s any opportunity for that, or someone who has a personal agenda they want to promote for some kind of gain or even one-upmanship, professional jealousy, or revenge. Rules of professional ethics and by-laws get ignored, or changed in mid-stream to suit the agenda of the person(s) involved. In that case, it’s not about being in service, and I don’t feel bad for exposing that. The people I write about aren’t pleased. But then again, you can’t please everybody, and I don’t try.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

CAMTC: California Dreamin’, or a Nightmare?

The CAMTC (CA Massage Therapy Council) is under duress, as the saga of AB 1822 continues. In a letter dated May 10, to CA State Assemblyman Jerry Hill,  Beverly May, the Chair of CAMTC, states that the lawmakers are operating on false information.

In answer to rumors that the CAMTC has a backlog of 35,000 applicants, May states that is false and that the Council is completely up to date with applications. Furthermore, states May, a lobbyist is responsible for spreading the baseless rumor that a study had shown that the CAMTC has approved a huge number of applicants that should have been denied, a charge that she dismisses. In fact, May’s letter indicates that the CAMTC has denied over 3,200 applicants that were previously approved by local governments under the old way of doing things.

The CAMTC is trying to move massage therapy forward in a place with no previous statewide practice act and it’s an uphill battle, without even counting the lobbyist spreading false information.

Every massage therapist in CA should be protesting this bill. It is referred to as an “anti-prostitution bill,” but it should be referred to as anti-massage. At best it is a misguided attempt to stop prostitution and human trafficking.  If enough massage therapists just sit by and remain silent, it’s going to be ratified, and you can line up at your local police station to be treated like a common criminal.

You can go to this link to see the latest action on the bill and use the link at the top of the page to make a comment.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen

COMTA: A Contradiction?

COMTA (Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation) is in dire need of volunteers, so why did they just get rid of a good one? I’m referring to John Goss, who has served COMTA for 10 years in several capacities, including a stint as Interim Executive Director. Last week, during a meeting he was unable to attend, Dr. Goss was unceremoniously dismissed from the Commission.

I contacted Kate Henrioulle, Executive Director, and Melissa Wade, the Chair, and they both gave me the same answer: “COMTA thanks John Goss for his past service and wishes him well in the future.”

A COMTA volunteer who spoke on condition of anonymity said “John was known for asking hard questions. They didn’t like that. He was accused of “impeding the work of the Commission.” That’s too bad. Board members who ask hard questions are usually the ones who demand transparency, who hold other members accountable, and who get a lot of work done. Dr. Goss has, in the words of my source, “given a ton to COMTA over the years.”

Another COMTA insider said “The Commission is not articulating a vision or speaking with any authority or inspiration; it’s all about doing “stuff” and getting more income from higher fees.  What about the stakeholders’ returns on investments (financial or temporal)?”  The same person stated that the staff communications at COMTA are an embarrassment, replete with typos, poor grammar, and inappropriate language. “If I were on the receiving end of one of those reports, I’d be wondering what business these folks have telling me what I should be doing,” stated the source.

I’m in service on the North Carolina Board, and I ask hard questions, just like John Goss. I’m all for transparency and accountability, and I don’t believe in compromising if it’s at the expense of the stakeholders. You can ask the folks at the top of AMTA, ABMP, the NCBTMB, and the Federation. Open and direct communication is the way I roll, and I will be a thorn in their side when I don’t get an answer. And when they give me some party line, I call it like I see it.

It does seem to me that COMTA has been stuck in neutral for awhile. 8 years into their existence as an accrediting body, and they have accredited less than 100 schools. And they are in need, indeed, of volunteers. Henrioulle asked me to pass along this link and encourage those who would be interested in acting as peer reviewers to get in touch.

Disclosure: I am currently a candidate for Commissioner for the upcoming COMTA election.

Laura Allen

The NCBTMB: Time to Back up and Punt

This past weekend, ABMP convened the 14th annual School Issues Forum in Alexandria, VA. I was teaching at the NC Chapter of AMTA‘s Spring Conference and couldn’t attend, and apparently, I missed a little firestorm by not being there.

Neal Delaporta, Chairman of the Board of the NCBTMB, gave a presentation on the progress of the Advanced Certification Exam, that for the past 48 hours has caused my inbox to be flooded with criticisms of the path that was taking. The resignation of Task Force member Rosemarie Rotenberger was also passed along to me by an anonymous source.  The BOD of the NCBTMB, according to Rotenberger, chose to eliminate the CE requirement from the eligibility criteria of sitting for the new ACE; she offered that as the reason for her resignation, stating that the action had been taken “against the strong and repeated recommendation of the Task Force.”

One industry leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated “I am disgusted to learn that he (Delaporta) was touting NCB’s mission to define and advance the highest standards in the profession while knowing full well that the CE requirement–one of the only meaningful criteria to qualify a practitioner for any kind of post-graduate credential–had already been removed by his BOD.” A number of others who were present at the meeting also gave me an earful about the ACE; the general attitude was that by doing away with any CE requirements that the NCB was removing any shred of credibility from the exam.

As I believe in going straight to the source, I contacted the NCB to give them a chance to respond. Without divulging any names I shared some of the criticisms that were piling up, and here is part of the response I received from Paul Lindamood, CEO of the NCBTMB (shortened for space considerations):

“….Based on feedback from Task Force members, it has become clear that the rationale supported by the Board is not entirely in alignment with the recommendations of the Task Force. Consequently, the Executive Committee of the Board has determined that further communication and deliberation regarding one element of the criteria, specifically the continued education requirement, are needed to achieve consensus and move forward to the next phase of the project. A meeting will be convened between the Board and Task Force Sub-Committee members in order to better define the quantifiable threshold for the CE requirement, one that everyone in aggregate can embrace….When one considers that the framing of the ACE is intended to measure critical thinking skills and ability allowing massage therapists to function in more complex situations requiring the ability to respond and adapt massage treatment plans based on expected outcomes, it is unconscionable that CE would not play an appropriate role….”

In other words, they’re going to back up and punt. I’m glad to hear it. The pesky thing about any task force is that they’re not worth a hill of beans if you don’t take their advice. They were put in that position because of their experience and expertise. The fact that the Board of Directors failed to follow their advice speaks volumes.

I’d like to know exactly where to lay the blame, but short of polling the Board members,  who probably wouldn’t tell me anyway, I can’t figure that one out. As someone who is on a state board myself, I can tell you that it’s pretty rare for us all to be in agreement. We disagree all the time, and we argue until a majority reaches a consensus. If a majority of the NCB’s BOD reached a consensus that continuing education is not important, as they obviously did, I’d like to know what they were thinking.

My own thought is that a person who graduated from a 1000-hour program, or longer, might be ready to step up and take the advanced exam without having had any CE, but that is not the standard in this country. Very few of our states require that much education in order to get a massage license, and our neighbors in some of the Canadian provinces can even laugh at that. We need to raise the standards, but that’s another blog. And regardless of entry-level education, critical thinking is developed by the commitment to continue one’s education, as well as by gaining practical experience.

When the leadership of an organization fails to act in a responsible manner, the other Board members need to let it be known loud and clear that they dissent. I certainly do. I’d no more go along with the Chair just because he’s the Chair than I would cut off my nose to spite my face. You can ask him. I’ll be the last one hollering. I’m not going to be anybody’s blind sheep.

I am very relieved to hear that the BOD of the NCB has decided to cave to the Task Force recommendations, and to the popular demand of the leaders of this profession, that CE requirements be reconsidered as a part of the criteria for sitting for the new exam. I urge the Board of Directors, and Neal Delaporta in particular, to pay attention to the recommendations made by the people you asked to do this job! To do otherwise is irresponsible on your part at best, and despotic at worst. We don’t need any more egomaniacs running the National Certification Board, we’ve already had one, thank you, and we didn’t like her, either.

I’ve tried to be more positive in my reporting about the NCB in the past few months, because I have in fact seen an improvement in service there, and I know that at least some of the people there are people who genuinely do care and want to make a positive difference.

I suggest to Mr. Delaporta and the rest of the present Board of Directors that you were on a sinking ship, that has bobbed to the surface and shown some good signs of righting itself, and it isn’t on anybody’s head but yours if you cause it to go down again. This is a reality check, and you need to realize it. For the sake of the NCB, listen to the Task Force members, whose help you asked for, and do as they suggest. Put the budget on the back burner, and leave your ego at the door.  You just remember that it takes a majority vote and vote for the CE requirement. If you want the Advanced Certification Exam to be a hallmark of excellence that it ought to be, and not an industry joke, then do the right thing.

Laura Allen

Male Massage Therapists: Survival of the Fittest

According to surveys by our professional associations, males account for less than 20% of massage therapists. From the personal experiences I’ve had with teaching male students, having male therapists in my own practice, and serving on a state board, I’ve made a few observations. I think males definitely have a harder row to hoe when it comes to making a living in massage therapy.

I’ve employed a couple of male therapists over the years who practiced advanced modalities. I’ve had a therapist who practices Structural Integration traveling from out of town to work at my place for six years. I’ve also in times gone by employed a male who did orthopedic massage. Both of them had a much easier time getting new clients than did the male therapist who didn’t have a specialty.

I live in a small town, and have found that many women don’t feel comfortable getting massage from a male; many women wouldn’t mind getting massaged by a male, but their spouse doesn’t want them to, and a whole lot of homophobic males won’t get a massage from a male.

As for male therapists getting in trouble with the board, in the past four years that I have served our state board, only one woman that I can recall has been brought in for a hearing on an ethics charge, but there are males having disciplinary hearings at nearly every meeting.

There have been several times when I didn’t think a male therapist who had been accused of something was guilty, but I was voted down by other board members. When it’s a sexual offense, I believe there is a tendency to err on the side of caution, and the standard of proof is not what it is in a regular court of law. I also believe there are plenty of women out there who are violating the code of ethics, but a lot of men won’t complain about being offered sex along with their massage.

All that being said, I look at some of the people who are at the top in this profession, and many of them are men. Erik Dalton,Whitney Lowe, James Waslaski, Tom Myers, Benny Vaughan, John Barnes, John Upledger…the list goes on, and if you stack up the women who have that same kind of name recognition, it’s probably about equal–amazing since over 80% of the profession is comprised of women. Maybe there’s a glass ceiling in massage. If you look at their class schedules, a lot of those esteemed fellows are on the road more than they’re at home. We women tend to nest a little more. Somebody has to keep the home fires burning!

I wonder about the percentage of males who leave the profession because they can’t make a living as opposed to the number of females who do that. I feel for them. The males I’m acquainted with who are successful have had a lot of perseverance. I recently had a black gentleman in one of my classes who has been practicing more than 40. I told him I bet he was the first one in North Carolina. I was thrilled he came to my class. After 40 years, you’d think our state board could lighten up on the continuing ed requirement!

To all the male therapists who are trying to contribute to this profession, I salute you. If you really want to do this, I believe you can make your way. Professionalism will eventually overcome outdated perceptions.  Don’t give up too soon.

Peace & Prosperity,

Laura Allen