The right to search for the truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be the truth. Albert Einstein
Two incorrest ssumptions
This report is concerned with two basic assumptions about state regulation, both of which are incorrect. The first assumption is that state regulation is needed because inadequately trained practitioners are incompetent and therefore likely to harm people.
The second assumption is that state regulation requires adequate training which assures competence, and thereby minimizes or eliminates the likelihood of harm.
In this report, we present well-documented evidence that both assumptions are false. To do this, we consider different ways that people learn to do massage. We then comment on undocumented allegations about allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists who supposedly harm people. Finally, we present definitve information about training, and draw logical conclusions.
PART 1: THERE IS NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO LEARN MASSAGE AND NO ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO MASSAGE
There is no well-documented evidence that tells us what way is the right way or the best way to learn massage. Some massage therapists are self-taught. They use books and video tapes to learn how to do massage. They practice on spouses, relatives, and friends. Others take a one, two, or five day workshop, or a course that may range from 50 hours on up to 1,000 hours.. Others learn by apprenticeship.
According to Lauriann Greene, "There is no standard for what constitutes a 'good' massage.... Each client will have his own opinion on the subject, depending on his own tastes and physical condition.... Massage is an art. There is no one right way of doing it. It is a "misconception" to assume "that there is one definition of what constitutes a 'good' massage and a 'bad' massage.... Students and new graduates often ... think the way they were taught to massage in school is the 'right' way to do massage, and that massaging any other way is 'wrong'.... What you learn in school is a good basis from which to develop your own style."1
According to Cherie Sohnen-Moe, "Most massage therapists do not want to acknowledge that massage as an art can be, and is, practiced by anyone without training."2
The Esalen Massage Video
helps beginners learn to do massage
"The easiest way for" [a beginner] to use the video [is to] watch it through from start to finish, and get a sense of what it is. Then set up a table. If you don't have one, you can work on the floor or a bed, but the floor is difficult because you can't move around. Begin to try to follow along with the practitioner. If the detail work is too much, then begin with the long strokes and see if you can just get the feeling of the Esalen Massage. It's all about feeling and quality of touch.
"If you can begin to sense the rhythm, in the long strokes and begin to feel the flow of the massage, you can come back later and pick up the detail work. That would be for the beginner. For a professional, I recommend doing massage on a partner or colleague, following along with the video right from the beginning."3
"Massage for Dummies"
The authors of the book "Massage for Dummies" are Steve Capellini and Michel Van Welden. Capellini was certified after he took a 108-hour massage course in Los Angeles. During the subsequent 16 years, he has given more than 10,000 massages. He has earned a living by massaging people since he was 23. Van Welden was trained at the Physical Therapy Training Institute of Paris, and has massaged people in Bolivia and Africa.
This book tells us, "A fancy, gold-embossed massage license hanging on the wall in a frame is no guarantee that you're going to like a given massage therapists's technique.
On the other hand, someone with no certificate at all may be one of the most highly skilled massage therapists you'll ever meet. When it comes to choosing a pro, go with your heart and your intuition."
"Massage is about cultivating the right attitude - the giver's attitude - not just applying mechanical maneuvers which any massage text can teach you. But don't worry. In this part of the book, you're going to discover how to actually give a massage, too. And, you'll see, it's not that difficult.'
"Just follow the instructions, and in no time you'll be reproducing the very same techniques you see being performed by the highly trained models in the photographs. No problem. That's right.
"You can become one of these great people about whom everyone else exclaims, 'What great hands you've got.' Just remember to focus on your 'giver's attitude' as much as your manual skills, and you'll do just fine."
"The complete Idiot's Guide
This book (by Joan Budilovsky and Eve Adamson) provides "quick and easy guidance on giving a massage" and "idiot-proof steps for all types of massage, from aroma therapy to Swedish Massage."
The book also tells us, "Sometimes the very best massage therapist for you won't have any kind of formal certification at all."
PART 2: UNDOCUMENTED
ALLEGATIONS OF INADEQUATE TRAINING
When you read reports about state regulation, harm, competence, and inadequately trained massage therapists, you have to know whether the information that you are reading is well-documented or consists of unsubstantiated allegations.
In this report, the adjective, adverb and noun alleged, allegedly, and allegation are used when there is no well-documented evidence for what these words refer to.
Let us begin by considering allegations of inadequate training for which there is no well-documented evidence.
Rhonda L. Whitener's allegation
of massage therapists who did not have
"one hour of training"
"It frightens me that there are people out there calling themselves massage therapists who have not had one hour of training."4 Whitener (who was Secretary of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association) has not replied to our request for well-documented evidence that some massage therapists "have not had one hour of training," and have actually harmed people.
Susan Pomfret's allegation of
"poorly trained therapists"
"With low licensing requirements in some areas, poorly trained therapists flood the market..."5 Pomfret (who is presently Chair of the Arizona Coalition for Massage Therapy and Bodywork) has not replied to our request for well-documented evidence that the allegedly "poorly trained therapists" are indeed poorly trained, and have actually harmed people.
Judy Boyer's allegation
of "untrained" practitioners
Judy Boyer told the members of the Arizona AMTA Chapter: "the purpose of the bill [to regulate massage therapists and other bodyworkers] is to protect the public health, safety, and welfare from potential harm or actual harm by untrained massage therapy/bodyworkers."6
We will ask Boyer what well-documented evidence she has that any massage therapists and bodyworkers in Arizona are untrained and have actually harmed people; and , if so, how many people were harmed, what the nature of the harm was, and how serious it was. We will publish her reply in the Massage Law Newsletter, if she replies and permits us to do that.
Bonita Jones' allegation of massage
therapists with "no training" in Florida
"I have encountered ... people who, with no training whatsoever, have represented themselves as massage professionals, and, before they moved on, left clients angry, confused, and hurting."7 Jones has not replied to our request for well-documented validation of her allegation that there are massage therapists with no training and about harm that they have actually caused. A Georgia Senate committee provided information about complaints in Florida but there was no reference to untrained individuals posing as massage therapists.8
PART 3: DEFINITIVE INFORMATION ABOUT TRAINING
There is no well-documented evidence that massage therapists, who have learned to do massage in accredited schools (with 500 or more hours of training), are more competent and do higher quality work than massage therapists who have learned to do massage in fewer hours, including those who are self-taught.
There is no well-documented evidence that massage therapists, who have learned to do massage in accredited schools (with 500 or more hours of training), have harmed fewer people than massage therapists who have learned to do massage in fewer hours, including those who are self-taught.
There is no well-documented evidence which correlates the number of hours of training directly with hands-on competence, quality of work, and client satisfaction.
There is no direct correlation because intuition is a variable that significantly influences hands-on competence, quality of work, and client satisfaction.
North Carolina provides well-documented evidence that state regulation is not needed to protect the public from harm
Whitener's home state of North Carolina has provided well-documented evidence that massage is safe, and that state regulation is therefore not needed to protect the public from harm.
North Carolina's Title Protection Act permits "people ... who have not had one hour of training," to legally do massage, provided they do not use restricted words and the restricted title. A Title Protection Act gives certified massage therapists a competitive business advantage by allowing them to use a restricted title. It does not protect the public from harm.
North Carolina would not permit "people ... who have not had one hour of training," to legally do massage if there was any serious likelihood that they would harm their clients.
North Carolina's permitting "people ...who have not had one hour of training," to legally do massage disproves the one and only legal justification for state regulation; namely that state regulation is needed to protect the public from harm.
The fact that North Carolina's Title Protection Act permits "people who have not had one hour of training," to legally do massage is well-documented evidence that state regulation in any form is not needed - in any state - to protect the public from harm by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists.
If massage therapists (in North Carolina), "who have not had one hour of training," don't harm people, why would massage therapists ("who have not had one hour of training") harm people in any other state?
There is no well-documented evidence that the population of clients in different states vary in their susceptibility to harm when they are massaged by practitioners "who have not had one hour of training"?
Minnesota also provides well-documented evidence that state regulation is not needed to protect the public from harm
The Minnesota Complementary and Alternative Health Freedom of Access Act permits massage therapists and other bodyworkers to practice, regardless of their training. This act is therefore good evidence that massage is safe. The Act also provides professional credibility and prevents turf wars and border conflicts. Therefore state regulation is not needed for these two purposes.
PART 4: CONCLUSIONS
Why we focus on training
We focus on training because the harm from which the public allegedly needs to be protected is allegedly caused by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists.
State regulation is promoted allegedly to protect the public from harm because the only legal justification to regulate an occupation or profession is a well-documented need to protect the public from harm. This is obvious from constitutional law, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, state Sunrise Acts, and state legislative committees such as the Pennsylvania senate committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensing.
State regulation allegedly has standards which allegedly provide assurance that massage therapists will allegedly be well trained so that they will allegedly be sufficiently competent and will allegedly therefore not cause harm.
In fact, so many massage therapists with so many trainings (which very in so many respects) have massaged so many people (with so many contraindications) so many times, for so many years, in so many states (which do not regulate massage), with so many well-documented reports of so many benefits, but with so little if any well-documented evidence of harm
Because there is no well-documented need for state regulation to protect the public from harm, all state regulation should be repealed.10
Because there is no legal justification for state regulation, there is no legal justification for national standards, which is a euphemism for monopoly control.
Follow the money trail
You have to follow the money trail9 to understand the relationship between state regulation and monopoly control, who benefits from state regulation, and why some massage schools are a major force promoting state regulation.
"It seems that proponents of licensing are hopeful that a state license would mean more money, status, and power."10 Jerry A. Green, Attorney for the California Coalition on Somatic Practices.
"I think the move toward licensure is regrettable. I believe licensing creates state-sanctioned monopolies ... with the explicit goal of "protecting the public, but with the real effect of protecting those who hold the monopolies respective entitlements, reducing information to the public, and restricting competition."10 Don Schwartz. Director, Trager Institute
"Professional regulation is not about serving society. It is about power, control, and money for a self-selected group of providers trying to be part of a health-care system rife with corruption, greed, and life-damaging and life-ending errors - all well-documented by the nightly network news."10 Don Schwartz. Director, Trager Institute
We invite those who disagree with anything we have published, to submit letters or articles with well-documented relevant evidence that justifies their disagreement, and give us permission to publish their articles in the Massage Law Newsletter.
1. Greene, L. Save Your Hands! Injury Prevention for Massage Therapists. Infinity Press. Seattle, WA. 1995.
2. Sohnen-Moe, C. A peek at the future evolution of practices. Massage Journal. 38(5):56-66. Millennium issue. 2000.
3. An interview with Peggy Horan, Esalen Massage Crew Representative, Practitioner, and Teacher at the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California. Esalen Video Press. January 22, 2001.
4. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M.. What is a "good "massage? What is a bad massage? And who is most qualified to decide whether a massage is "good" or "bad"? Massage Law Newsletter. 15(4):1-3. 2000.
5. Schatz, A. Arizona does not need to regulate massage therapists to protect the public from harm. Massage Law Newsletter. 15(4):1- 9. 2000.
6. Boyer, Judy, ( Chair. Government Relations Committee. Arizona Chapter, American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA-AZ). December, 2000, letter to members of the AMTA-AZ Chapter:
7. Jones, B. Why more people aren't getting massage. (Reader Forum). Massage & Bodywork. page 6. April/May. 1999.
8. Brewster, M. Evidence wanted. (Reader Forum) Massage & Bodywork. page 4. June/July. 1999.
9 Schatz, A. Follow the money trail to find to why scare tactics tell us massage is harmful. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. Special Issue No. 4. pages 1-14. 1997.
10. Schatz, A, Massage should be deregulated because it does not cause harm. Massage Law Newsletter. 5(2):1-18. 1998.