Craigslist Applauded by AMTA: MT safety & professionalism improved

Craigslist home page imageToday, the AMTA released to its members a bit of good news for the interest and safety of practitioners in the massage industry: Starting in Illinois, and assuming it changes in other states in the future, the ‘erotic’ posting section is being removed by the Craigslist company on their site. The AMTA is strongly discouraging an alternately suggested ‘adult’ section, but basically applauds Craigslist effort to minimize delineating, illicit, and illegal massage advertising in the majority of the states in the U.S. by posters who are not legally able to provide the services or identities they assume through the current posting place on Craigslist.

Here’s the email: (Leave your comment here after you read it!)

For many years AMTA has sought means to clean up massage listings on Craigslist and protect both the public and massage therapists who advertise legitimately on the service. Previous direct efforts with the company have had little effect. Meanwhile, AMTA has continued to cooperate with law enforcement officials in their efforts to control ads on Craigslist. Yesterday, it was announced that Craigslist will drop its ‘erotic services’ section in the state of Illinois and this appears to indicate an overall change by the company in other states.
AMTA has issued the following press release expressing its view of the decision and calls for Craigslist and others to respect the massage therapy profession and protect the professionalism and safety of massage therapists. AMTA President, Judy Stahl has already been interviewed by news media and we are convinced that our view will receive media attention.
AMTA encourages members to look at listings in the ‘therapeutic’ section of Craigslist in their area for ads that use the word massage and promote something other than legitimate massage therapy. You can flag such ads as inappropriate. Several flags of an ad usually result in the ad being removed.
Your association will continue its efforts, and its contacts with law enforcement officials, to restrict massage therapy advertising to legitimate massage therapists and protect the safety of practitioners.

For Immediate Release
May 13, 2009
AMTA Applauds Craigslist Decision
Calls for Protection of Massage Therapists
Evanston, IL – The American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) views the decision by Craigslist to remove its ‘erotic services’ section as an opportunity to clarify for the public that prostitutes who claim to provide massage are not massage therapists. “The public and massage therapists have a right to know that advertising for massage should only be the right of massage therapists,” says Judy Stahl, AMTA President. “We hope this decision will ensure that massage is only advertised on Craigslist through its ‘therapeutic’ section and that any new ‘adult’ section will not allow posters to use terms related to massage therapy.” Most states regulate the massage therapy profession and restrict use of the term ‘massage’ in business and advertising to legally practicing massage therapists.
The recent publicity surrounding the murder of a call girl who called herself a masseuse on Craigslist has confused many people. Massage therapists have had clients and patients question their professionalism and raise concerns about them advertising their massage practices through Craigslist.
Unfortunately, prostitutes frequently claim to offer massage and use the term ‘masseuse’ to appear as legitimate therapists. While most massage practitioners prefer the term massage therapist, some still use the older term, rooted in European health traditions, of ‘masseuse’.
AMTA believes these terms related to massage should only be used by those with a legal and professional right to do so. The non-profit professional association wants the public to feel confident that anyone who claims to provide massage is a trained professional who practices legally. “We call on Craigslist, the media and other online services to respect massage therapists and to protect the public from misrepresentations of massage. And, we continue our support for the efforts of the state attorneys general to protect the public from inappropriate advertising,” says Stahl.
The American Massage Therapy Association is a nonprofit professional association of more than 58,000 members founded in 1943. AMTA professional members have demonstrated a level of skill and knowledge through education and/or testing and must meet continuing education requirements to retain membership. AMTA provides information about massage therapy to the public and works to improve the professional climate for massage therapists. It advocates fair and consistent licensing of massage therapists in all states.

As prostitutes turn to Craigslist, Nassau County law takes notice (NY Times story, Sep 4, 2007)

As prostitutes turn to Craigslist, Nassau County law takes notice (NY Times story, Sep 4, 2007)

Please: exercise your rights as a member of the Public to flag inappropriate ads that use the word “massage” as well as the inappropriateness of other text or pictures that do not represent massage therapy.

Craigslist will not accept an over-zealous flaggers of posts, and considers that terminable behavior or at least behavior that will be ignored, so if your thinking about being a ‘vigilante’ by going in and flagging hundreds of ads today, your success rate will be much lower.

If each public member and massage therapist flagged just one ad in a responsible manner, Craigslist will be busy getting the message that there are inappropriate and inaccurate listings that need to be removed – the more flags, the more messages. Getting non-MTs out of the Therapeutic Massage section entirely is impossible, but with enough monitoring, it can be reduced greatly and the safety of your client, yourself, and your industry will be better insured.  It only makes things better for the Client and for legitimate practitioners.

  • Has Craigslist ‘stepped up’?
  • What is your experience with Craigslist?
  • Do you think the national attention on the media-touted “Craigslist Killer” has brought the medium of Craigslist under scrutiny and given the massage therapy industry the edge it needs to demand action for the safety of the people who are working in or benefiting from massage therapy?

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.

National Certification Board Unveils Employer “Center of Excellence” Program

I got the email today, probably along with many certificants who are on the NCBTMB‘s e-mailing list! I’d heard from the NCBTMB rep at the IECSC expo back in July (some fun pics!) that they were going to start this program for massage businesses that employ Nationally-Certified MTs, and I was very excited!

The Center of Excellence that the NCB proposes building is a marketing tool that can put a massage business in the lime light of the NCB’s efforts to promote massage therapy businesses that employ ONLY Nationally-Certified massage therapists and bodyworkers.

The NCB is not advertising a cost for this program, at least through the media I’ve received, so I am interested to find out what cost there is/will be. After contacting them, I think the NCB will lay it on whoever’s interested enough to contact them.

There are pros and cons to this method, but I think the aim for the NCB is to encourage certification processes continue at a rate where jurisdictions rely on the NCE as a benchmark for competency while rewarding the employers and businesses that utilize these same certificants with advertising from an established authority.

No matter your opinions or experience with the NCB (and I have heard varied and sundry accounts!), the aim is to enhance the marketability of a practitioner up to this point, and with the new program, to promote businesses that utilize certified MTs to provide services from that business utilization.

I definitely think that for the new/renewal rates that the NCB charges that this is a step in Certificants and the public getting to see the real value of being NCB-certified!

For more information about these credentials, contact the NCB through their website for more information– and post what you find out so we can get the WHOLE picture as it develops!

Leave a comment about what you see the PROS and CONS to be!

Distance Education: Pro or Con?

In the field of Massage Therapy, and in Nevada to be more specific, the Nevada State Board of Massage Therapists require 12 Continuing Education (CE) hours in our field (approved by the Board) in order to remain licensed as a Massage Therapist. This coincides with the 4-year goal of the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork’s (NCBTMB) requirement of 48 CE hours for recertification. On November 16th, 2007, the NCBTMB began accepting Distance Education (DE) courses as a viable component of the professional training required to be an NCBTMB Certificant (Nationally Certified). Face-to-Face (F2F) courses have been the mainstay in the field of Massage Therapy and the frequency and availability of DE courses is steadily rising. F2F & DE courses make CE hours (credits) available to NCBTMB Certificant when the certificant completes the number of hours of training required for each course category: F2F courses offer live instruction with hands-on opportunities for training, practice, and evaluation; DE courses can be only by long distance (never interacting with the instructor, mostly internet-based) or a combination of long distance and face-to-face instruction (mostly in the testing phase of completion).
I speak from a practicing MT, educator, and MT educator’s point of view: I think in the long run that DE (Distance Education) courses do a disservice to the industry. The quality of the nature of massage therapy declines as DE courses are more and more the choice of practitioners that do not make the time to fulfill a standard of service: hands on learning.
I think making time to “be” a professional is critical in delivering the service that our clients expect from a certificant. “Hands On” is the nature of our profession. Just as we do not expect surgeons (a “hands on” profession) to learn by distance and then practice on their patients, we also cannot expect our instructors or MTs to not have hands on experience when teaching us a modality over distance or performing a massage – we expect the best and most value for our money and the credentialing agency that establishes their expertise should also. Do our clients expect us to never have practiced on a body (for taking DE courses) when we charge the rates we charge? I think one answer is they expect us to be proficient – hands on learning facilitates that key element in claiming we are practicing within our scope and have been critiqued and guided by our live instructor(s).
On the other hand, without some DE opportunities, many MTs would not otherwise be able to get the education they need to keep the credentials they need in this industry or want and have decided are the best fit for advertising and affiliating their professional image with excellence. I understand the need for convenience, inexpensive, and accessible CE opportunities.
Right now, a certificant can submit all DE credits for renewal of their NCTM or NCTMB accreditation. I believe that a percentage of DE credits of the whole 48 should be accepted as viable learning and practice tools for recertification purposes. MTs need to establish a commitment to the “best” care for our clients by integrating hands-on training in our careers. Our professional relationship with the NCB is a choice in many cases, sometimes it is a requirement of the local jurisdiction – some state licensing boards require CEs (of any approved type, DE or F2F) and the level of proficiency of their licensees is the state board’s responsibility. I think the NCB sets a standard for the industry and would hope that states and local jurisdictions would follow suit.