Secular massage therapy and spiritual massage healing differ in philosophy, training, and practice.! Even the word massage has different meanings in these modalities,2,3 as do the terms therapy (to cure, often by eliminating symptoms) and healing (to make whole, spiritually and in other ways).1 This difference was described by Harry Edwards, the famous British spiritual healer, as follows: "One of the vital differences between a sick one's attendance on a doctor and a healer is that he visits a doctor to get treatment, but he goes to a healer to get well."4 Another difference is the fees the therspists and healers have to pay, for what, and how often.
To be a healer, one should have a clear understanding of the spiritual/religious nature of all healing and of the healer's role as a facilitator of self-healing. One should also have empathy, love, and respect for our fellow men and women and all other forms of life, and for nature as a whole. Finally, one must select or develop her own unique way of working with God and nature.4,5,6 Many healers are self-taught, and have developed their own healing modalities. Much and, in some cases, all of what healers know and do cannot be learned as secular massage therapy is learned. (Information about this is in the Appendix)
For massage therapy, the requirements and the cost of meeting those requirements are determined by a massive economic superstructure. This superstructure is sustained by the money massage therapists pay the components of that superstructure. The components include state regulating agencies, local (city and county) governments that have ordinances allegedly to control prostitution, state-accredited massage schools, national certification, continuing education providers, insurance companies, and producers of massage tables and other products.
No serious attention has been given to the macroeconomics of this superstructure. There has been no overall survey of how much money massage therapists have had to pay to the massage industry7 as a whole and to each of its above-mentioned component parts. This economic topography would reveal the gross amount of money that massage therapists have had to spend to meet requirements which have not been justified by research. (Although this report refers to massage therapists, it also applies to some other bodyworkers as well.)
What is astonishing is that such a humongous economic superstructure rests like an inverted pyramid on secular massage therapists who, in contrast to doctors, do not harm people.8
What has been happening to massage therapists is part of the ongoing transfer of money from working people to big business with the help of government. Because state legislators are not knowledgeable about massage,9 they are vulnerable to pressure from special interest groups. The result is legalized monopoly control of the massage profession.
The corporatization of massage. How it all began. The massage industry had its origin in 1949-1950 when the American Association of Masseurs and Masseuses (AAMM) drafted a Massage Registration Act as a model for state regulation of massage. The AAMM became the American Massage and Therapy Association (AM&TA) in 1958. The so-called medical model of massage, which has recently become popular, may have had its origin in 1958, when the AM&TA became the present American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).10
The "Massage & Therapy" in AM&TA apparently referred to [non-therapeutic] "Massage" and [massage] "Therapy." In 1983, the name of AM&TA was changed to AMTA, allegedly to distinguish "Massage Therapy" (in AMTA) from physical therapy. The medical model, which is presently touted in massage, fits in with the symptom-directed, medically-oriented "Massage Therapy" in AMTA.
The name change from AM&TA to AMTA in 1983 may have been motivated by state physical therapy practice acts, such as the one enacted in Pennsylvania in 1975, which specifically exclude non-therapeutic massage from the domain of physical therapy, but include [medical] massage therapy. The change from AM&TA to AMTA in 1958 may have been an attempt to stake out symptom-directed, medically-oriented massage as AMTA territory, and enable massage therapists, with less education than physical therapists, to do some of the work that physical therapists do.
In the late 1980s, the AMTA initiated the move for national certification which became part of the massage industry.
$$$$ $$$$ $$$$ $$$$. Before 1916, when Ohio was the first state to regulate massage, anyone could do massage even if she was self-taught. Nobody had to pay to go to a state-accredited school, and pay for national certification, continuing education credits, and other things which are now required. In states which regulate massage, the massage industry has become a big business that includes state agencies, local (city and county) governments which enact ordinances allegedly to control prostitution, national certification, insurance companies, sponsors of continuing education, and manufacturers of massage tables, chairs, and other products. One thing all components of this industry have in common is that money flows to them from massage therapists.
The massage industry continues to expand because massage therapists have to pay to meet requirements to enter the profession and must then keep on paying to stay in business. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly costly to get in and stay in. Despite the fact that many massage therapists drop out because they don't earn enough money to keep going, others keep coming in.
MORE THAN FOUR AND A HALF CENTURIES OF STATE REGULATION. Adding up the number of years that states have had massage laws gives the total state massage-law years. For example Ohio, which began regulating massage in 1916, has 81 (1997 minus 1916) state massage-law years. For all states that regulate massage, the total number of state massage law-years amounts to more than four and a half centuries. This means that massage therapists have been paying for the privilege of practicing a modality with little if any risk of harm for more than four and a half centuries.
AFTER ALMOST HALF A MILLENNIUM OF STATE REGULATION, no research has yet been done which provides convincing evidence (a) that state regulation results in more competent massage therapists in terms of on-the-job performance, (b) that massage therapists cause harm from which the public has to be protected, and (c) that state massage laws could protect the public from harm if the public needed that protection. There has also been no adequate research on the total amount of money that massage theorists have had to pay during all these years.
The corporatization of massage. The industrial revolution of massage; that is, the takeover of control of the massage profession by the massage industry,7 is the corporatization of the massage profession. The so-called medical model for massage, which is presently being touted about, is the latest step in the corporatization process. How any profession could seriously consider contemporary medicine as a model is astonishing, to put it mildly.
Conventional medicine is the fourth major cause of death in the United States - after heart disease, cancer, and stroke.11 The number of deaths attributed to conventional medicine may be even higher than the official count because many deaths attributed to heart disease and cancer may be caused by the treatment rather than the disease.
The corporatization of medicine by HMOs has resulted in less and lower quality health care in order to maximize profit for insurance companies. Doctors now work for insurance companies. (Is that what massage therapists want to do?) Medical care has become an industry, which is precisely what it should not be. According to Joseph Califano (Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Carter administration), At its core, health care is a ministry, not an industry. If we lose sight of this essential characteristic, the worthy goal of affordable quality (health) care for all will once again get trampled in the melee over money. This is precisely what has happened.
What is the medical model? Since there's no generally accepted definition which tells us what that model is, it means different things to different people. Consequently, those who promote this model for massage are not all talking about the same thing. This is comparable to the lack of clarity and effective communication12 by those who allege that state regulation is needed to protect the public from harm, but don't reveal what that harm is and amounts to,13 and by legislators who are not adequately knowledgeable about massage.9
Because of the uncertainty of what the medical model is, many massage therapists are understandably concerned about how that model will affect them. Why would a profession like massage permit itself to be modelled on something, without having a clear definition of what the something is?
What massage therapists don't need. It makes no sense for massage to have any undefined model, least of all an undefined medical model. In terms of safe treatment,8 the medical model for massage also makes no sense. HMOs, for example, maximize profit by decreasing the quality of health care they provide.
Thus, medical health care has become an industry whose bottom line is profit. To the extent that secular massage therapy adopts the medical model, it is basing itself on medicine. Medicine, in turn, is based on science. And science is largely responsible for the global ecological damage that now threatens our survival as a species.6
Spiritual massage healing has a religious model which involves conscious communication with God and nature,2,3,5 and counteracts the threat to our survival.3,5,6
Medicine needs a massage model. Respect for medicine has been plummeting at an alarming rate. Medicine is therefore suffering from a serious credibility problem and needs a model that will help it regain popular respect. While this disaster has been happening to medicine, the popularity of massage has been dramatically increasing.
Because medicine is killing so many people, it obviously needs a model of a health care profession that does not harm people. What better model epitomizes safe health care than massage which causes no harm?8 From this point of view, medicine would do well to adopt massage therapy as its model.
Medicine has begun to recognize the importance of spirituality. The Harvard University Medical School and the Deconess Hospital have jointly offered courses in Spiritual Healing in Medicine on December 3-5, 1995, and December 15-17, 1997.
The National Institute for Healthcare Research sponsored a meeting, in 1996, to consider such areas as the spiritual aspects of health and whether doctors should prescribe prayer. At this meeting, Dr. Dale Matthews, from the Georgetown University School of Medicine, said, "There is at work an integration of medicine with religion, of spirituality with medical practice, the twin guardians of healing through the ages." This report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.14 From this spiritual point of view, medicine should adopt spiritual massage healing as its model.
What massage therapists do need. If the massage profession needs a model, it should develop its own model based on its identity, its needs, and its contribution to and its role in society.
Massage therapists need an organization for which an appropriate name would be The Massage Therapists Self-Protection Society. This would be comparable to The People's Medical Society (462 Walnut Street, Allentown, PA 18102), which informs its members how they are exploited by the doctor-pharmaceutical-hospital-insurance complex,15 what their rights are, and how they can protect themselves. Massage therapists need an organization which will provide them with that kind of support.
Massage therapists also need to understand that the only state regulation which would serve them and the public most effectively, most professionally, and most inexpensively is a title protection act with voluntary compliance. An appropriate title protection act would provide certification for those who want it and allow them to use the title state-certified massage therapist.
Others who do not want state certification would be permitted to do massage (without being state-certified) but would not be allowed to call themselves state-certified massage therapists. They could call themselves simply massage therapists. There is precedence for this because we have accountants (who are not certified) and certified public accountants.
Who benefits from the superstructure? What we have discussed ineluctably leads to the question, "Who or what benefits from the massage superstructure?" To answer this question, one has to follow the money trail. Does it lead to special interest groups? If so, what are these groups and to what extent does each of them benefit?
The Sunrise Process is a breath of fresh air. Those who promote state regulation of massage should do research to produce the kind of information which the California legislature's Sunrise Process requires.16 This information must show that:
1. The unlicensed profession is a serious danger to the public health and safety;
2. State licensing will adequately protect the public health and safety; and
3. No other means can also protect the public health and safety.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN PENNSYLVANIA? Why has PALC (the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition) not provided the information that the California Sunrise Process requires? Is it because PALC does not have that information? Is that why PALC has not responded to our request for information about the harm to which it refers?13 Is PALC's harm imaginary harm comparable to imaginary numbers in mathematics?
We do not understand why those who promote state regulation of massage, allegedly to protect the public from harm, do not "tell the whole world" about any and all harm caused by massage. If that harm exists and is significant, it would be convincing evidence for the need to regulate massage. Conversely, if it does not exist, there is no need to regulate massage to protect the public from harm. One indisputable fact about harm is that in states, where massage is unregulated, consumer protection agencies are not lobbying legislators to enact laws to protect the public from harm by massage therapists.
"Massage harm" is a unique kind of harm The harm allegedly caused by massage is unique because it is ephemeral. It seems to occur when it is needed to convince state legislators and others that massage should be regulated to protect the public from harm. "Massage harm" is like a verbal shell game. "Now you see it. Now you don't." But we can't find out where (under which shell) it is. Information about how many people have been harmed and how serious their injuries were is kept as secret as if it were stamped NATIONAL SECURITY. A remarkable case where relatively safe massage was transformed into potentially dangerous massage is reported in the write-up about Ontario on page 10.
Better late than never Why has so much of the massage superstructure existed for so long without any or sufficient research to justify it? Is it because research might reveal that the superstructure, including state regulation, is not justified and therefore not needed?
The research, which should now be done, should cover the past 10 to 20 years. If estimates have to be made in some cases, that is better than having no information at all. The data which that research provides will enable us to objectively evaluate the need for state and other requirements. All requirements which are not justified by research should be discarded.
Research is needed to reveal how many millions of dollars massage therapists have had to pay over the years to comply with state requirements. There is little if any information comparable to the $3,000,000 fees that massage therapists (and other bodyworkers) have paid to take the National Certification Examination.17 The following issues should be researched form historical and contemporary perspectives.
1. What have the tuition and other fees been annually at accredited massage schools in states which regulate massage, before and after regulation was enacted? How much more rapidly (at what rate) have tuition and other fees increased after state regulation was enacted, than before? How do these fees compare, year by year, with fees in schools in states which do not regulate massage?
2. If all state massage laws were voluntary title protection acts, how many massage therapists would choose to be state-credentialled?
3. What research provides convincing evidence that state massage law requirements (e.g., the number of hours of training at a state accredited school, national certification, continuing education credits, etc.) assure an individual's competence in terms of on-the-job- performance?
4. If the competence of a massage therapist is on-the-job performance, how is that competence evaluated? Who is most qualified to evaluate it, and why? If the competence of a massage therapist is not on-the-job performance, what is it? When we read articles about massage that refer to competence or "expertise," which the author does not define, do we know what he is talking about? Does the author know what he is talking about?
5. How many hours of training are required by different states in the U.S. and in Canadian provinces? Why does this wide variation in the required number of hours of training exist? How many hours of training are really needed, and why? If there is no answer to this question, why not?
6. How many state massage laws have been enacted allegedly to protect the public from harm? Are the numbers of people who have been harmed and the nature of the injuries sufficiently serious to justify the need for state regulation to protect the public from harm? What convincing evidence is there that state massage laws requirements could protect the public from harm if that protection were needed?
7. During the past 20 years, how many massage therapists have been state-certified, registered, and licensed annually throughout the U.S.? How much have these massage therapists had to pay annually to states, to state-accredited massage schools, for national certification, for continuing education credits, etc.- from 1916 to date? We need to know the amounts paid annually in each of the above-mentioned categories and the total amounts paid to date. This will provide information about the rate at which the fees that massage therapists have had to pay have been increasing.
8. What is the average gross annual per capita income and the average gross annual per capita cost of required fees that massage therapists have paid during the past 20 years? Are fees increasing more rapidly than income? What evidence, if any, indicates that any educational requirements are responsible for the increase in income?
9. During the past 10 years, how much money has been paid by insurance companies to how many clients for Injuries caused by massage therapists,? What was the nature of these injuries, and how serious were they?
10. How many cities and counties have local ordinances regulating massage therapists, allegedly to control prostitution? How much money have massage therapists had to pay annually and to date since these ordinances first went into effect? What research provides convincing evidence that local ordinances have decreased prostitution? And, if so, to what extent?
11. If the National Certification Examination were voluntary, how many people would take it? How much money have massage therapists paid to take the National Certification Examination since it began? Does this examination test for competence in terms of on-the-job performance? Is there any correlation between the test scores of clients who passed and those who failed this examination and how their client's rate them, in whatever ways the clients chose to do so?
12. What evidence is there that each of the claims which members of the massage industry make about the advantages and benefits of their products, for massage therapists and the public, are justified?
The information which this research provides should promptly be made available to massage therapists and other bodyworkers, to state legislators, and to the news media. It should be used to identify and abolish requirements for which there is no convincing evidence of benefit for massage therapists and/or the public. Baron's discussion of "Licensure for health care professionals: the consumer's case of abolition"17 may be applicable to much that is presently part of state massage law.
"Two psychologists report that years of experience, professional education, or lawful credentials do not determine the success of psychotherapy. ... The outcome of therapy is not enhanced by training, education, or years of experience. It may not even matter whether there is a live therapist present."19
With respect to the above-mentioned considerations, the only significant difference between massage therapists and psychotherapists is that a live massage therapist must be present whereas a live psychotherapist need not be.
One "model" for spiritual massage healing is based on healings reported in the Bible. The following comments are taken form the Journal of Spiritual Bodywork.2 Jesus was a great healer even though he never took any courses in anatomy, physiology and pathology. Jesus was also a great teacher even though he never took any education courses, and would not meet state requirements for teacher certification.
Many others who do healing by anointing with oil and the laying on of hands, and in other ways, have never had any training in a state-accredited massage school. Nor have they passed any written examination. But they have obtained good results. Many Therapeutic Touch practitioners have not studied anatomy, physiology and pathology. Many people who do massage competently are self-taught, or learned massage from others or in schools that were not state-accredited..
Everybody can be a healer. We have already discussed some kinds of bodywork which involve education rather than medical treatment.2 We have also pointed out that practitioners of some health care modalities, that are essentially educational, do not need a background in science, anatomy, and physiology. The point is that everybody can be a healer.2
"You too can heal. My experience has convinced me that the potential to heal lies latent in persons who are willing to reach out beyond themselves in their attempts to heal others; that is, those who have a deep intentionality to heal, a strong motivation in the interest of meeting the needs of others (rather than just bolstering the needs of his or her own ego structure), and the ability to honestly confront the question, 'Why do I want to play the role of a healer?' If you have these characteristics, you can heal." - Dolores Krieger, R.N., Ph.D.
"Every one of us is a healer because every one of us at heart has a love for something, for our fellow-man, for animals, for nature, for beauty in some form. And we, every one of us, wish to protect and help it to increase. Every one of us also has sympathy with those in distress, and naturally so because we all have all been in distress ourselves at some time in our lives. We are all healers, and with love and sympathy in our natures we are also able to help anyone who really desires health." - Edward Bache, M.D.
"To heal, one must become attuned to that universal power … a force that has order as its basis… It does not require intense effort or long years of study, but rather a strong desire to heal and an opening up to your sensitivities. Those simple visualizations, and those relaxed thoughts of letting the energy pour through you are examples of just how simple it is. Firmly plant your beliefs and your will in helping the ill, then open yourself up to the energy of universal power and visualize the light flowing through you - that is the simple truth of real healing. - Dora Kunz
"People who have a deep inner yearning to give of themselves in healing the sick, to take away pain and stress, who possess compassion and sympathy for those who are afflicted and are willing to sacrifice their time without any pecuniary reward; people who are generous in their nature, and who render willing service for good causes are those who possess the spiritual qualities which mark the healing gift. This healing potential, then, needs only the development of the faculty of atunement with the spirit source of healing and the opportunity to give it practical expression…
"One cannot develop the gift [of spiritual healing] by study.... The gift of healing cannot be conferred by a degree, by ordination, or by the wearing a white coat. It functions when those who have the faculty establish atunement with God's healing ministers in Spirit who indeed are the intelligent administrators of the beneficent power." - Harry Edwards.
1. Schatz, A. Massage therapy and spiritual massage healing are legally different modalities. Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 1(1):1-2. 1995.
2. Schatz, A. The Church for Spiritual Healing and Health. Spiritual Massage Healing. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. 1(1):1-53, 1996.
3. Schatz, A. The Church for Spiritual Healing and Health may now ordain spiritual massage healing ministers. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. 2(1):1-4. 1996. 4. Edwards, H. The Power of Spiritual Healing. The Harry Edwards Spiritual Healing Sanctuary Trust. England. 1978.
5, Brewster, M. A search for an appropriate philosophy of massage. Part 3: Bodyworkers can help heal the planet. Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 2(4):1-2, 1997.
6. Schatz, A. A. Worldwide ecological damage threatens our survival as a species. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. Special Issue No. 3. pp. 1-5. 1997.
7. Eabry, S. Guest Editorial. Massage magazine. No. 58. pp. 22-25. Nov/Dec 1995.
8. Schatz, A., Tillotson, A., and Brewster, M. Since massage does not cause harm, why license massage therapists to prevent harm? Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 2(2)1-7. 1996.
9. Brewster, M., and Schatz, A. Massage harm: fact or fiction? Massage Magazine. p. 11. July/August 1997.
10. American Massage Therapy Association. 1996-1997 Membership Registry. Evanston. IL.
11. Health & Healing. Tomorrow's Medicine Today (Dr. Julian Whitaker's newsletter). 6:1-3. January 1996. Phillips Publishing, Inc. Potomac, MD.
12. Schatz, A., and Kuhl, G. National Certification Exam. Massage & Bodywork. pp. 31-32, fall 1996.
13. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M. Why is the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition (PALC) promoting state licensure to protect the public from harm? Will PALC please tell us how many people have been harmed by bodyworkers in Pennsylvania and how serious their injuries were? Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. 2(4):7-10. 1996.
14. Should physicians prescribe prayer for health? Spiritual aspects of well-being considered. American Journal of Medicine. 273:1516-1517. 1996.
15. Schatz, A. , and Carlson, K. We need new kind of national health care. More of the same won't work. Journal of Well Being. 9(4):19-27. 1994.
16. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M. Massage does not cause enough harm in California to justify regulation. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. 2(4):6-7. 1996.
17. Schatz, A. Some thoughts and questions about the $3,000,000 National Certification Examination. Spiritual Message Ministry Newsletter. 2(1): 1-5. 1996.
18. Baron, C.H. Licensure of health care professionals: the consumer's case for abolition. American Journal of Law & Medicine 9:335, 1984
19. Rutter, V. Oops! A very embarrassing story. Psychology Today. p. 12. March/April 1994