Victims Speak Out – Massage Therapy: “Under Fire”

The massage therapy industry is under fire in Las Vegas.

So, what else is new?  “Sin City” has a reputation for providing The Unscrupulous ways to satisfy their deep, dark desires, whims, and habits.  Massage Therapy is used as the face of some less-than-virtuous ways of enjoying what the City of Las Vegas, its surrounding wildlife and lands, and neon culture have to offer.  Massage Therapy, as an industry and a profession, is again, based on the public response from KTNV’s “Contact 13 Investigates” story about questionable corporate practices at Las Vegas Valley Massage Envy locations, defending itself against a negative public perception.  The story ran first on May 1, 2014, during their live action newscast, part of a Series presentation called “When Massage Becomes Misconduct”, focusing on Las Vegas Valley Massage Envys.

Watch this video, then please continue reading140501 KTNV Contact 13 story

 

Before I try to address what is really going on in the publication of this story, please know:  I am not and haven’t been an employee of or investor in Massage Envy.  I am not a representative for any law enforcement agency.  I do not know any of “the players” in this story.  But I am a concerned citizen – for the rights of potential and the alleged victims in this story.  I am also a pro-active Massage Therapy professional and Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists-licensed massage therapist (NVMT.103).  Oh: and I have an opinion, with some solution.

Please allow me to make some distinctions via definition for some of the terms I will use here:

  • Company – Massage Establishment
  • LMT – NSBMT-licensed Massage Practitioner
  • Complaining Client – customer who lodges a service complaint with a Company
  • Accusing Client – massage recipient/client who files/has filed criminal or civil charges against an LMT

I think, in our industry especially, any company that receives an first-time complaint against an employee LMT should investigate it internally and Play It Safe. There is no “report of criminal activity” by the company because they are not the Victim nor is there a law (that I am aware of) that requires employer to report “suspect LMTs” to the Business License Department, but I think Massage Envy [ME] has a franchise policy of “zero tolerance” for their employees already. Yes, the LMT/employee may not get the benefit of any doubt as to the veracity of the complaint…and that is another issue [if they are terminated over a complaint]: one the LMT would take up with an complaining client in a civil case. If the complaining client (based on the legally-consequential nature of the complaint), after being advised by the company of their options (in writing, too) to report the alleged ‘complaint’ additionally as a crime committed by the LMT, chooses NOT to pursue legal action, then the company is not legally bound to report the criminal act because they are not the victim. If the complaining client pursues criminal accusation and the LMT is convicted of a crime, then the company has ‘no choice’ (in my head) but to terminate employment (and according to their own company policy) – they, themselves, cannot pursue a criminal case against the LMT. Without a registered client accusation, This is a civil case. If (a franchisee of) ME is found to be negligent, then it is also a civil case.

The company may, but IMHO not successfully, pursue a civil action against the convicted LMT if libel or defamation of reputation is incurred by the company. Who knows? Maybe that is what we hope can be established…but not until fair notice and counseling for employment is documented. Apparently, ME as a franchiser has a “Zero Tolerance” policy, which is a great statement, but they seem to not be living up to it at the news-story-targeted locations. Sometimes, news stories like these will put the franchisees under investigation by the company (Franchiser) and they may lose their franchise if not following contracted agreement, but the franchisee will not be responsible for a single LMT’s actions. I suspect that the franchisee will take the entire responsibility/consequence for re-employing, with documented counseling of the LMT prior, but ME’s lack of organizational oversight (because maybe there is a lack of network information for the re-employing franchisee) may be where the blame is set, finally. Again, This is a civil case.

If the company does not Play It Safe and counsel effectively OR terminate, the company becomes at risk for the accused LMT to be accused again. They cannot announce to every subsequent client that the LMT they are about to get a massage from has been accused (or complained against by another client) of criminal behavior – it is not their responsibility to announce an alleged perpetrator if they continue to employ a “suspect”. It is not the company’s responsibility when an LMT commits crimes – that is why we have a board for Massage Therapists, not Massage Establishments (and their owners) – if Nevada did, then the MEs featured in this story would be under investigation by the NSBMT (…for hiring/employment practices? that’s more likely an SOS function…). Massage Envy is one of the last places anyone expects to find criminals, which is why this story is so interesting – it’s the patrons and professionals that have conspiracy-theory attitudes that fuel the publicity derived from the fear developed in the telling of this story.

We all tend to like to be judges – we have seen the limited, edited testimony of the alleged victims…in the agendized new story. We all tend to want to convict the accused and alleged LMT(s) in the court of public opinion. But it remains to be seen that the LMT(s) are guilty, and that is only done by investigation and hearing/trial, and That isonly done if/when a criminal case is opened by the victims. This story is an example of civil unrest – and one certain way to resolve it to, again, show the public that companies are responsible, for the public’s sake and in my opinion, is to have ME conduct an internal investigation and publish its result(s)…and probably get a follow-up story done by the news station. 

Establishing that the LMTs in question are criminals is the key – complaints will take those victims nowhere, accusations will.


 

Here are some steps (but may not include all) in how to get the ball rolling for avoiding or accusing a perpetrator that violates professional and business massage therapy laws:

Before an Incident:

  1. Use a reputable company’s/organization’s Referral System for Finding A Massage Therapist, if you are starting from scratch: [for National searches: (use AMTA) (use ABMP) (use NCBTMB) (use Better Business Bureau)]  [for review-based searches: (use Yelp) (use TripAdvisor) (use Angie’s List)]
  2. Check the license status of a Licensed Massage Therapist in Nevada at the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists – “Active” means the Licensee is registered and legally-allowed and -qualified to practice massage therapy.
  3. Use a search engine* to “research” your Licensed Massage Therapist; discover more about your LMT than just a license number:  is their advertising consistent, therapeutic in nature, and do their goals as your practitioner match your therapeutic goals by getting a massage?  (use Google) (use Bing)
  4. Contact and interview your Licensed Massage Therapist by phone prior to your massage therapy session.
*your search engine’s settings will determine individual results

During an Incident:

  • Yell out for help,
  • Exit the room or get out of range of the perpetrator,
  • Call 9-1-1

After an Incident:

Read the Nevada Revised Statute (laws) and Nevada Administrative Codes regarding regulation and rules for behavior for Licensed Massage Therapists;

  • If you believe the offending LMT has broken a professional license/regulatory law, fill out this Complaint Form at the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists website.

Additionally, If you believe the offending LMT has broken a jurisdictional/criminal law (some NV jurisdictions’ websites), call the police non-emergency line (3-1-1 OR (702) 828-3111) and/or go into a police station (map) to file your report.


In my opinion, this story just puts the “news” spotlight on a wrongly-intended outcome – will raking ME over the coals stop or greatly reduce the number of sexual assault victims in the industry and profession? Maybe in the organization of ME, and that can be our first stand: to establish and support well-known, public companies that represent the industry/profession. I think ME is doing a fine job of being that face for massage therapy professionals, in spite of what a news outlet reports: only one side of the story so far.

The integrity of all massage therapists is not at stake or at risk, unless we falter and don’t believe what we are doing helps people, our clients/patients. The profession is tarnished and a company is cracked with this news story, but shining & repair is inevitable if we all are to survive an unwitting blow to our reputations as facilitators of health. Regaining trust and re-establishing confidence can only be accomplished by maintaining the strict line of therapeutic relationship and practicing (sometimes more noticeably [, now]) the ethics and standards of practice that the public (and professionals, alike) recognize as constitutional and trustworthy. Helping our clients understand what to do in a situation like these victims may have experienced is one of the best ways to communicate that we, each one of us that educates in this fashion, are NOT “those LMTs”. Here are some ways to hold the line:

  • Making public statements against crimes that are known to be and are regularly publicized and associated with our profession/industry is a very good thing
  • Allying, as a massage therapy professional/business, with organizations whose agendas refute and take action against prostitution (in SoNV, especially) and human trafficking
  • Using pro-therapeutic and legally-required verbiage in our advertisements,
  • Following the law(s) explicitly regarding scope and jurisdictional practices,

These are all ways we can regain the trust of our clients and never lose our integrity.

Music: Streaming Solitude…and permission to do so

I recently came across an FAQ that strikes a chord with me as an independent massage therapist, traveling from temporary residences, to permanent residences, to office spaces, to convention spaces…and I thought this might interest you all, too.

ASCAP is, basically, the music industry’s licensing agent – if someone wants to play publicly someone else’s music for money or in public places where business is being conducted, these are the guys to go to for permission (and usually a fee) to get a license to do so.

But, in my travels, I happened upon an FAQ page of a internet radio station that was pleasantly surprising. Although I may be a little late to get the memo, Radio Paradise quotes ASCAP’s “newly”-developed regulation, basically not requiring a license to stream publicly-broadcast music in certain places, spaces, and under more liberal conditions.

Check out this link for Radio Paradise’s explanation (ASCAP references and all): http://www.radioparadise.com/rp2-content.php?name=FAQ#180

It seems to me that (whenever I think of it) I don’t have to worry about streaming music anymore while I am doing an outcall massage – I now have to worry about signal strength & battery life!

Tools for Determining Where You Can Practice Massage

Though simple, this diagram is helpful for visualizing the licensing requirements…in just one more way.

Employed LMTs are registered with one address (the Employer’s) and are included on the massage establishment license as a practicing LMT at that Employer’s address: no other than the State professional license is needed if that is the only address/establishment at which the LMT is practicing.

Many MTs tell me they don’t believe that they need to have certain licenses to perform at specific [other] addresses – ‘for’ or ‘not for’ money. The fact is: MTs have to have AT LEAST a State professional license to put their hands on anyone as a certified Massage Therapist (then you are an LMT). All the other licenses are “unbelievable” but necessary to earn money or ‘volunteer’ in each jurisdiction in which your own business operates (then you are an LMT practicing in Las Vegas, Clark County, etc).

IF you are performing massage therapy outside of an employment/Employer situation, you are [also] an Independent Massage Therapist, and the second fact is: to make money doing massage (including ‘tips’), you must have a Local business license that applies to the address at which you want to practice – ‘for’ or ‘not for’ money. If an LMT is not doing it for money, s/he is promoting her/his service and providing a regulated professional service, which is considered ‘doing business’. If an LMT is giving away massage – ‘donating’ – then s/he has to be working for her/his own company (self-employment connotates an IMT business license) in order to give away ‘free massages’ and have appropriate legal means to provide massage therapy. Liability insurance is strongly suggested and sometimes required for the location at which you are providing any type of massage therapy services.

Exceptions to being certified and not licensed AND practicing differ slightly in each jurisdiction, and may include: immediate household residents and/or family or family up to two generations outside of the practitioners (eg. son/grandson or aunt/niece) – check with each jurisdiction for these exceptions to the licensing/practicing requirements.

The legal differences between MTs practicing as Employees and/or IMTs can be confusing. When you consider performing massage therapy, using the information you gained as a certified massage therapist, you can boil it all down to one question: “what license to i need to perform a massage at ___________(insert address here)________?”

The answer to this question may be found here, at a GIS map that is used by the City of Las Vegas and other municipalities to determine ownership and LOCATION of a property [owner] address in the Las Vegas Valley: http://major.lasvegasnevada.gov/website/clvcamps/viewer.htm

Here’s an easy, 4-Click process to find out what jurisdiction an address is in:

Step one: Visit the GIS map (link above, too) – I save this in my Bookmarks for easy access.

Step two: see the diagram below for the 4-Click process to finding out which jurisdiction the address is located

4-Click Process diagram (page 1)

4-Click Process diagram (page 2)

Step three: based on the outcome, ask yourself: “Do I have a license for that jurisdiction?” If the answer is ‘YES!’, then go to your massage therapy appointment. If not, then find out how to get a license BEFORE you attend to your client at that location.
The above method is one that I use and have success with – legal records (tax map) cross-referenced with the same jurisdiction’s massage therapy business license requirements keeps my conscious clear, and what I believe to be legalized.

Good luck!

Winds of Change Blowing: Professional Association & State Boards Support New Benchmarking Tool – the MBLEx

Wouldn’t you just love to be able to walk into a state board – ANY state board – and hand them [your state’s license] credentials, including the passing of one test recognized by all states, and they say “No problem! Here you go,– now: go out and do massage.”

Although that scene could have been difficult to imagine 5 or 10 years ago, that seems to be where the massage therapy industry, where regulation is concerned, is heading.

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), a leading professional association operated for and by more than 58,000 massage therapists, announced last week its support for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx), the newest American massage therapy professional exam on the block. The AMTA has supported the industry- & jurisdictionally-recognized National Certification Exam (NCE) and  finds that the newest licensing exam, developed & administered by the FSMTB (whose membership is primarily composed of state massage boards) is the next evolutionary step and “the best choice” in national credentialing for massage therapists in America.

It seems that the AMTA (a major influence in the areas of professionalism, professional representation to other fields of healthcare, and largest representation by mere numbers of a massage-therapist-only organization) is also supporting the entity of choice of the state boards that are moving to a more unified and portable licensing situation, which I can say has been and is a dream for our industry.

mblex-2-110x110Just to recap:

· The MBLEx is the test given by the FSMTB

· The NCE is the test given by the NCBTMB – two versions are NCETM (Therapeutic Massage) & NCETMB (Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork)

The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) administers the MBLEx, which is comparable to the NCETM/B, administered by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Although the NCBTMB uses massage instructors, allied professionals (like chiropractors and physical therapists), the public and federal jurisdictions in developing the NCE, the development of another non-credential-bearing version of the NCB’s ‘stamp of approval’ for passers of the NCE, the NESL, has come a little late in the development of the reigning Certifiers of professionals in the massage therapy industry.

It seems that the NCBTMB does not include State Boards of Massage Therapy in the development of the benchmark testing of their NCE, and that there is not a like mind shared by all State Boards of Massage Therapy that agrees on the applicability of the NCE in each of the State Boards’ jurisdictions.

The MBLEx and the FSMTB is fast becoming state massage therapy boards’ preference for a professional benchmark to determine whether an MT is competent enough to practice massage therapy in the specific Board’s state.

Last year, the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists (NSBMT) became a member of the Federation of State Boards of Massage Therapy (FSMTB), joining the fast-growing numbers of state boards of massage therapy in the US.

Stats:

o 42: States Massage-Regulated in the U.S.

o 32: States Massage-Regulated in the U.S. and using the NCE

o 25: State Massage Boards also FSMTB members

What does this mean to [Nevada] Massage Therapists?

In my opinion, immediately, it will mean that in the next few years, the exam taken for applying for Nevada’s massage therapist professional license will be changing. Ultimately, it will mean interstate portability for a massage therapy license. And in the big scheme of things, a national professional license. And in the universal application of the implications, the universal (intra- and inter-national) ability to practice massage professionally with the same credentials. Now EVEN BIGGER that Universal implications could be BUSINESS LICENSEs are Universal, too – but I think that’s pushing it…just a bit.

Most of us have “grown up” with either the local business license office or state board requiring the NCTM/B credential: taking the NCE and getting the certificate to take copies to their offices. It does not mean (at least to the AMTA) that the NCE is not a valid exams: the AMTA clearly stated in their email (dated Jan 26th, 2009) to its members:

The national certification credential needs to be an important part of any grandfathering process.”


Will the MBLEx replace the NCE?

Who knows for sure? It is an Act in a Play that we are seeing for the first time – and we/ve read no reviews! The happenings in our field are new and changing, like a road on a trip that you’ve never taken before – destination: Unity.

The process of new licensing in Nevada may be changing slightly. A note: Change is inevitable…and it is also very slow in our industry, where regulation is associated; it doesn’t happen overnight.

The State of Nevada’s NSBMT is a member of the FSMTB, but they are not using the MBLEx as a benchmark at this time for regular application, but have stated that they will consider applicants that are relying on having taken the MBLEx for their NVMT application in individual review. I project the notice of complete change of requirement from the NCE to the MBLEx will come when the Nevada Legislation is passed, changing the requirements for exam to be taken by applicants for massage therapy license. Please refer to the posted NSBMT record of minutes in the October 24th, 2008 meeting.

One way to know where the test requirement is in the process is to keep up to date with the NSBMT by attending their meetings open to the Public or reviewing the approved minutes for each NSBMT meeting, available online here.

Viability of the MBLEx

I have no idea how the tests compare – without actually taking the MBLEx after taking the NCETMB, I have no springboard to base any opinion on which one is more credible, researched, relevant, or easy. Although…I am VERY tempted just to take the MBLEx to see how I do – It’s been so long since I’ve studied for an exam!mblex-3-110x110

Learn more about the MBLEx here

Learn more about the FSMTB here

The Choice of a Premier Professional Association

Through the AMTA invention, convention, direction, and redistribution of volunteer time and non-profit funds paid for by members and vested partners, they have established themselves as a motivator and leading performer in the massage therapy and professional association industries.

In my opinion, this is a fundamental commitment on behalf of the AMTA. Which means, if, in the estimation of more than 58,000 massage therapists, more state boards are being formed all the time, the state’s MT Boards opt to become member of the FSMTB, and the MBLEx is the test of choice because of unification of regulation and legislation factors, then endorsing the MBLEx and educating all its members and making information about the MBLEx available to the public and the association’s members is a good choice.

Models from Abroad Strike Again!

In my experience, which does not include losing thousands of dollars like other MTs around the U.S. but right up to that “point of no return,” the following email has not the scent of an Italian model, but rather that of a rat.

I have 8 unique attempts at fraud in my file – unique in their origin, but very common in their M.O. The following email is another attempt. Some key elements of this type of email fraud that I’ve found evident in every fraudulent email are:

  • Non-Domestic – best characterized by the email domain that is not .com, .net, .us, .biz, .info, .org, .gov (or other “dot” that you recognize more often), and also characterized by the broken English writing & unofficial “official” statements [like the “confidentiality” statement at the end of this email],
  • Model – the model him/herself or their agent (friend, manager, travel agent) is not necessarily a model, but is someone travelling from abroad to Nevada,
  • “U.S.” is where they are traveling to – a specific address is never stated as to where they will be staying so you can go to them to do your massage, and they most likely will agree to come to you,
  • Referral – they will mention that they got your name from someone else that knows of you, but your name will never be used in the email (unless you give it to them),
  • Introduction & Correspondence emails are different – the introduction email is a template filled in with basic information they have about the state you’re in; the city and your name remain unknown and unacknowledged by the writer (unless you give it to them).

Here’s the Email:

From: marcetocca@tiscali.it [mailto:marcetocca@tiscali.it]
Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2008 1:04 PM
Subject: Massage Inquiry
Hello,
How are you today? My name is Mrs Marcella Fedelle, i live and work here in italy, i am 36yrs old. I have been doing massage since 1989. I do a deep relaxation massage in which the muscles relax without pain, I also do energy massage that helps people feel great when I am done. I am certified to do pregnancy massage .I have lots of happy clients here in italy , I have a client Miss Alessandra Amato A Model here in italy ,She will be coming to the U.S in three weeks time for a modeling job and she will be residing in Nevada temporarily until the neccesary arrangement for her job has been made before she leaves,she will be needing massage therapy 1hr session three times a week for one month
Miss Amato asked me to come with her to the US but i told her i would not be able to go with her to the US as i have a course i will be going for in a week time and the course will last for three months.So i promised to help her get a good practitioner in your Area.
I have been looking for a massage therapist for over two weeks till i met an old friend Mrs Jessica Claire at the Cosmetic Surgery And Beauty Conference that was held over the weekend in Milano. I spoke with her about my client and was referred to you. She gave me your referral.
Pls tell me a little more about yourself,how long have you been a massage therapist?and would you be able to provide her massage therapy?
I will also need you to get back to me with the amount you charge per session and also let me know if she can pay you via Us Certified Cashiers Check
Pls send your reply to my personal email address ( __________@yahoo.it ) because i do check it frequently.
Thank you very much and do have a nice day..
Marcella Fedelle
Via Cusani, 26
20123 Milano ,
Italy
———————————–CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:——————————————————The information contained in this email is privileged and confidential, and is intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any disclosure,copying,distribution, electronic storage or use of this communication is prohibited. If you receive this communication in error, please notify us immediately by email, attaching the original message, and delete the original message from your computer and any network to which your
Telefona e naviga senza limiti con Tiscali Voce 8 Mega a soli € 15 al mese per i primi 12 mesi. In seguito paghi € 29,90 al mese. Attiva entro il 6/11/08!
_______________________________________________________________

The idea and the M.O. is for you to agree to perform a series of massages, “costing” them $500+, usually in the thousands. You will give them a bill prior to meeting them, and they agree to send you a certified or cashier’s check. You get the check, never performing the services, and they ask you to deposit it, because… due to the mistaken travel arrangements with the agent, you’ve been overpaid through the check that has been cut and it on its way to you. They want you to deposit the check and send the difference to someone else. To incent you, you can keep a couple hundred “extra” (in addition to your bill) for your trouble.

Unfortunately, the official-looking check you deposited 30 days ago will be returned to your bank and you will owe the bank the amount of money for which the fraudulent check was written. You will have written a “good” check and mailed it to the travel agent for the thousands in difference on the “official” check, that same check will have cleared your account, and you will have never seen your “client” because they postponed their trip. You will probably never get to do your massage with them.

Ways to say no:

  1. “no.”
  2. “no, thank you.”
  3. “I’m sorry: I don’t take checks.”
  4. “I’m sorry: I don’t take checks from people I’ve just met and/or that don’t have a NV ID/DL.”

To read more about this method of email fraud, visit Wikipedia’s page that describes this and most types of fraud: Advanced Fee Fraud

To understand what the Federal Trade Commission is doing about email scams or to report an attempt, please visit their website.

HIPAA On the Horizon

Client safety and confidentiality the intent of HIPAA – improves alternative health care industry

If you’ve ever thought twice about filling out a health questionnaire that your massage or bodywork practitioner has asked you to complete, you are not alone. It is within the scope of a Practitioner to ask questions about your health in order to provide you with the best service possible – safeguarding your state of health, knowing and practicing the contraindications for you and the bodywork you are receiving, and preventing any complications in providing that service. With rising fraud crimes and use of electronic filing systems, it is a valid concern of the Client and Practitioner that information can be misplaced, mishandled, and miscommunicated.

In 2003, the healthcare industry adopted a government standard for getting and keeping your personal health information for purposes of practicing medicine and filing insurance claims. It is named HIPAA: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPAA has three major purposes:

  1. To protect and enhance the rights of consumers by providing them access to their health information and controlling the inappropriate use of that information;
  2. To improve the quality of healthcare in the United States by restoring trust in the healthcare system among consumers, healthcare professionals and the multitude of organizations and individuals committed to the delivery of care; and
  3. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery by creating a national framework for health privacy protection that builds on efforts by states, health systems, individual organizations and individuals.

Bodyworkers and Clients alike will be satisfied to know that the HIPAA law in place today protects the Protected Health Information (PHI) of the Client in every aspect of the healthcare information-gathering process when insurance claims are filed with companies such as BlueCross and BlueShield.

At this time, compliance is not mandatory for Bodyworkers in the industry of Alternative Healthcare (unless the information is used in an insurance claim situation), but many Information Technology systems are developing in order to accommodate the eventual governmental requirement. If you didn’t know already, currently it is industry-standard to get a written release form from the Client in order for the Practitioner to give or receive health record information from the Client’s doctor.

Look in the near future for your practitioner to have HIPAA information and compliant forms with his or her intake form to assure you that your information is handled with the level of concern and confidentiality it deserves.

On the Record – CAM Products and the FDA (revised)

This may be something you’re interested in: the adequate protection your health through regulated consumables: now, or in the future.

Last year, I wrote an article that outlined the FDA’s attempt to regulate CAM products, including massage therapy oils/consumables, to the Nth degree, mirroring Sweden’s [Medical Products Agency’s] current regulatory process for products on the shelves in their country.

Haven’t heard any more about it?

Well, here’s a recap of the article I wrote with some ancillary information you may be interested in reading. When you’re done, read on about a new initiative to reform the FDA – and understand how you can help yourself and the country’s regulation of food and drugs.

The Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) industry has boomed over the past 10 to 20 years. Thousands of CAM products and services have flooded the market, in which there is also the same demand – and it only grows. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that in May 2004, 36% of Americans, aged 18 or older, used some form of CAM product or service. This number is expected to increase dramatically over the next 10 years and beyond.

There is some concern in the general public, the CAM practitioner community, the bodyworker community, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the growing popularity of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the implications for regulation of the consumable products that are an inherent part of the delivery of the CAM service. The FDA is proposing regulation by law of the industry of CAM by regulating the CAM products that are used by practitioners in the industry.

The FDA Stance. They state that in the interest of the safety of the general public that utilizes the services and products of the CAM practitioners, they are considering restricting use of certain types of products that are produced in circumstances that are not advisable or regulated by the FDA, a governmental agency acting on behalf of the Consumer. Click here http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/06d-0480-gld0001.pdf to read their Draft Guidance and reasoning on the subject.

The CAM Practitioner Stance. Most tissue-manipulation and energy bodyworkers use only their hands (and no implements or organic products internally) and external lubricants to manipulate the tissue through the skin of the client. There are other CAM practitioners (like nutritional counselors and holistic doctors) that prescribe nutritional supplements, botanical or essential oils, and dietary aids and foods, under which the FDA would like to categorize, label, and regulate the production of these CAM products. What “CAM products” will become is: difficult to find – less available if laws regulate what can be purchased; more expensive to purchase – because of less competition and the cost to produce the product under FDA regulation; more processed, less organic – because of the proposed pharmaceutical nature and process of the production of CAM products; and, the variety of products will be greatly diminished due to the origin of the products not being approved by the FDA to be legally prescribed or sold for use in CAM practices.

The CAM Client Stance. The general public wants to know what is in the products that are being used on their skin and inside their bodies. They are becoming more aware of the old adage “You are what you eat” and how true it is in regard to what ever a person is exposed or consumes. They have a right to understand and be able to choose the products they are exposed to or consume based on the latest information possible from a consumer group that acts on their behalf. The possible regulation by the FDA may: limit the types and variety of products available to the CAM Client thereby removing a choice, raise the cost of obtaining these products due to the regulatory nature of the production of the CAM products, increase the safety of the products being used on or in the bodies of the CAM Client thereby reducing the physical response to a product that has been untested for safety and effectiveness toward the condition it is meant to address, and possibly change the face of the products that will ever be available to the CAM Client based on the recommendation of their CAM Practitioner.

Your Stance. The FDA is accepting and registering public comment for purposes of survey and public record about their proposal. You have the opportunity to register your opinion for the record, and may do so here: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oc/dockets/comments/COMMENTSMain.CFM?EC_DOCUMENT_ID=1451&. If you are concerned about the CAM products that are on the market today and want to voice your opinion to the FDA, you’ll need to do so by April 30th, 2007, to be “on the record.”

There is a new movement, on behalf of consumers and the public affected by the current practices of the FDA, to bring to the attention of Congress the deficits the FDA places on the newest markets of drugs and CAM products; “new science.” The American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF) is leading a campaign to reform the FDA, starting with a petition that will be delivered to Congress.

To read what the petition is about and to sign it electronically or print a copy to send to your elected Congressperson, visit the AAHF online.

You are the “one more” signature closer to changing things…


will the Clark County Public Hearing matter anyway?

So, since the letter from Clark County Business License was sent to massage therapy business owners in the County in February, the Public Hearing regarding the proposed Ordinance 1713-07 has been postponed twice – now, it’s scheduled for May 21st, 9am, at the Clark County Government Center on Grand Central Pkwy in Las Vegas.

The only thing I’ve seen is that steam is building on the MT (specifically, Independents) side, and I’ve seen a few interested and opinionated Establishments get involved, too.  I am really anxious to appear, speak, and see who else is appearing to fight this attempted blow of oppression on an industry that is slowly tearing itself away from being associated with prostitution in this Valley.

But:  Will this steam be productive?  Has the Commission been “advised” already as to the potential and expected turnout from business owners that received the proposterous letter suggesting that massage therapy “crime” has increased and they need a way to keep it under control?

Will they realize (or have they realized) that this poor attempt to micro-manage massage therapy business owners to take the fall for an obviously non-oppressed prostitution industry is too feeble?

Why have they continued to put off a confrontation and a business owner’s right to voice their opinions about laws that they see as serving the safety of the public [Clark County]?

I think it is because there is no value in the proposal – they are attempting to levy power that constitutionally is reserved for the massage therapy business owners to do business according to the needs of their clients in a 24-hour, transient town.

Licensing is a recording and taxing method, not a “moral” issue, for which they’ve not proven there has been unruly law-breaking going on by massage therapists.  Only unrestrained prostitution is the concern, and the fact that the crime rate has gone up only shows that Metro is performing their duty according to the current law.

Since the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists was created and made law in 2006 (grandfathering for currently-licensed MTs until July 1, 2007), the Board has shouldered the responsibility of verifying the professional credentials and legitimacy of MTs practicing everywhere in the state of Nevada – even Clark County.  The County no longer has to prove that an MT passes a Federal background check (for civil or criminal charges or convictions) or that an MT is qualified to do the work they advertise, based on industry-established norms.

Why make us pay?  Why continue with this proposal?  Why not support the District Attorney when prosecuting solicitation endictments?

I guess they’d have to triple the size of County Jail to incarcerate the convicted prostitutes, which would have more than the “none” (cited) fiscal impact that passing this Ordinance would have on massage therapy business owners.

 

SEE OTHER MASSAGE THERAPIST’S OPINIONS AT:  http://massage.meetup.com/251

What does LMT mean? and other bodyworker titles…

Signs of Service

 

In today’s world of massage therapy, one sometimes has great difficulty determining who to choose to be his or her massage therapist.  There is one thing that we all want as clients when it comes to receiving bodywork:  trust.  We know that the internet and the phone book are great tools for finding that therapist that will be the one to give us specialized bodywork or cater to our needs in massage therapy.  But, there are some additional “clues” that tell us which massage therapist will be the better choice.

 

Whether we are new to the area, want to start a bodywork regimen, or have been receiving bodywork for a long time, there are some benchmarks that help us make a better choice in making our dollar go further and our relationship with that potential bodyworker more meaningful and productive.  The service marks that accompany a therapist’s name will be an indication that they adhere to a strict municipal code, code of ethics and standard of practice.  Also, title will be very important in choosing the therapist that is right for us.  Here are a few descriptions of service marks that will designate a legitimate, specialized, or practicing therapist:

  Licensing Considerations 

, LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) – or similar business-related association is required to practice in virtually every part of the United States, whether it is a State, County, or City license: it is the law, written to protect you and the massage therapist.  To practice massage outside of the training environment, all massage therapists need LMT title, even if their business is non- or not-for-profit.  Look for this title (including the license number and with which municipality it is registered) when choosing your therapist.

 A Note About Licensing:  Having a title does not necessarily mean that the therapist is qualified to operate a business.  The municipality decides, through issuing a license to a therapist, whether the therapist can conduct business within the municipality issuing the license.  License is a privilege.  Like any other type of formal permission, licensing is not permanent, unless the therapist renews it.  For your protection, make sure you use a licensed massage therapist.  Be aware of therapists who are non-compliant (expired license, certification, or membership).  If you are concerned, check with City/County/State records for licensing and association records for memberships – all available to the public online or by phone. Professional Considerations 

, NCTMB (Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork) – the most-used method of determining whether a CMT is competent is a test called the National Certification Exam (NCE).  Passing the NCE not only means that a therapist has graduated from a (minimum) 500-hour training program, but that s/he also abides by a specific and industry-centered Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice in practicing as a Nationally Certified massage therapist.  Most municipalities that license massage therapists require the therapist be a NCTMB.  Look for this title when booking your appointment in a spa or finding a private practitioner.

 

Member of [AMTA, ABMP, IMA, etc]” – Being a member in good standing of any professional organization (like the American Massage Therapy Association, the American Bodyworkers and Massage Practitioners, and the International Massage Association) is a sign that the therapist is in tune with the normal and optimal operation of their massage therapy business.  These professional organizations often regulate through audit their members to make sure they are complying with local laws and industry standards of conduct and codes of ethics.  They also provide continuing education experiences and networking events that put them in touch with today’s massage industry to optimize their professional knowledge and accountability.

 

, Title [CMT, MMP, etc] – these additional titles to a practicing massage therapist are important for us to know in which modalities the therapist specializes.  For example, if I were looking for a Cranial Sacral Therapy therapist, I would be looking for a CST (Cranial Sacral Therapist).  Not all titles are as simple to derive just by the name of the modality.    Each title represents a completion and competency level achieved, issued by the governing body that accredited the therapist with the title.  

 

  • Know that the modality you never heard of may be a ruse for what most other therapists in the industry already practice – read the description of the service/modality before you decide it is the one that provides you what you need.
  • Get the opinion of more than one therapist.  You may find that in your research that the one you “click” with is the therapist you talk to second or third in your line of questioning.  Also, visit with the therapist, when it is convenient for both of you, to establish a relationship of trust and awareness – allow the therapist to work for you by educating you about the profession and their particular part in the profession regarding their business.

 

To find out more about how to locate a qualified therapist in your area, please use these real world or virtual resources to fit your special needs:

 

NCBTMB:      (800) 296-0664           or         http://www.ncbtmb.com

AMTA:           (877) 905-2700           or         http://www.amtamassage.org

ABMP:            (800) 458-2267           or         http://www.abmp.com

IMA:               (540) 351-0800           or         http://www.imagroup.com

 

Choosing the perfect therapist may be a difficult task, but using these benchmarks will certainly ensure that you make the best choice for your bodywork needs.

 

Author:  David J Otto, LMT NCTMB

© 2005, All Rights Reserved

Starting a process…

This is really the first post I’ve done for the new site that my hero, John H. has devised as a medium for letting all who are interested know about my professional life.

I attended a couple of events yesterday that are really the beginnings of a process in which I feel compelled to participate and report.

The first cool event I went to with Johann Fultz (a licensed, independent massage therapist), who was kind enough to have a VIP pass for me at the door, was the Day Spa Expo, a yearly convention of spa owners and wellness vendors that attempt to woo and romance business owners into trying or buying their products. Products range from lip balm to organic clothing to high tech holistic and allopathistic equipment for better health.

I went with the intent on visiting the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork’s booth, since I was invited by staff member Jennifer Wagley to stop by while the NCBTMB was in Las Vegas February 5th through 7th. It was really enlivening to my professional sense to conversate, hypothesize, and conclude on a variety of subjects regarding professional development in the industry of massage therapy. We, of course, expressed our concern with the current MT laws and the subsequent City Council meeting we were to attend after visiting the Expo…and Jillian Kelly, School Outreach Manager at the booth was very interested to hear about our local issues and was astute enough to refer us to the pending appointment of the new Government Relations Director, soon to be announced.  It is good to know that there is support out there for our industry and profession: good to know that well-developed and established, recognized organizations are willing to listen and help local efforts to improve the state of the massage therapy industry.

Some of the other vendors we visited along the aisles and on the way out of the Expo wanted us to come party with them tonight, but, both Johann and I are soooooo dedicated to the instruction and success of our students, that we thanked them for all the free products and an invitation to an open bar at a Wynn restaurant, and quietly left the Expo vendor floor with City Council agenda’s floating through our heads.

Well, you might be asking yourself:  What issues are you talking about?  Aren’t massage therapy laws in Las Vegas fair already?  Isn’t it a perfect spa and independent practitioner’s world out there already? 

Johann initiated an online petition last year regarding the cross-gender code in Clark County and the City of Las Vegas concerning its disservice to the clients in these municipalities who may only receive therapeutic massage from a practitioner of the same gender.

After we completed our unattached roles of Observer during the general meeting of the Las Vegas City Council, Johann took the mike during the Public Forum, and, for the record, submitted the current 225 signatures harvested from the current petition to present in support of changing the City of Las Vegas laws to reflect a more modern, acceptable practice of massage therapy by licensed practitioners in the city.  He also firmly stated our case in the two available minutes, with a resounding “Thank you” from the Mayor Pro-Tem Reese’s chair, with no further action.  Although there are many and varied, strong arguments for why limiting business owners (the independent massage therapists) and their clients for whom they work has a negative impact on operating businesses in Las Vegas and Johann did a great job (in 2 minutes!) of laying out the meat of our issues.  In the Big Picture, the City Council meeting which we attended and Johann presented yesterday was marginally productive.

I’ve learned from this astounding response to a semi-prepared and -fulfilling presentation that we need to go into the office of the Mayor with an agenda item to be acted upon, meaning the law to be changed.  The argument development is still in process of how we can approach the reasoning for the proposed change in the law and most importantly how it can be presented convincingly with a positive response in a vote from the City Council to change or propose change officially and permanently to the effect that any licensed massage therapist can perform outcall massage on any gender client with a need for therapeutic massage.  If any one has suggestions that will move our cause forward, please contact me with your ideas and possible schedule for any involvement you may wish to contribute.