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:
, 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.
, BCTMB (Board 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 Board-Certified massage therapist. Some municipalities that business- or professionally-license massage therapists require the therapist be a BCTMB. Look for this title when booking your appointment in a spa or finding a private practitioner.
“Member of [AMTA, ABMP, etc]” – Being a member in good standing of any professional organization (like the American Massage Therapy Association, the American Bodyworkers and Massage Practitioners, etc) 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 https://www.ncbtmb.org
AMTA: (877) 905-2700 or https://www.amtamassage.org
ABMP: (800) 458-2267 or https://www.abmp.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.