Licensing arrangements ...can be characterized less as methods for protecting the public and for providing external social control in the interest of the consumer than as a means for protecting the occupation's market dominance. Indeed, licensing has the unique quality of making a violation of the professional monopoly a punishable crime. - Haug
As life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he share the passion and action of his time, at peril of being judged not to have lived. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
This is a follow-up of my report, "Minnesota Does NOT Need to Regulate Massage Therapists Because Regulation is NOT Needed for the Safety and Well Being of its Citizens" (Massage Law Newsletter. 6(2):1-3.1999). This and our other reports on state regulation of massage are available on <http://www.tiac.net/users/maryella/>.
Catherine Condon's article Show of hands is far from unanimous on bill to regulate massage therapists (in the January 6 - 19, 1999, edition of the Villager - a St. Paul, MN, weekly newspaper) tells how controversial House Bill 658 is.
The article identifies Sheila Sweeney as "vice president of the Minnesota chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) which is lobbying for the bill," and is "also a member of the Coalition for the Regulation of Massage Therapists and Oriental Bodyworkers, which drafted the bill."The article also reports Sister Rosalind Gefre's comments in favor or state regulation of massage therapists.
Those who promote legislation to regulate massage therapists have a responsibility to provide well-documented evidence that regulation is needed.
This is particularly important because House Bill 658 may put many people, mostly women, out of work because they do massage which does not harm people.
I am therefore asking the two above-mentioned individuals for well-documented information about the Coalition's bill. I am also requesting their permission to publish their replies in the Massage Law Newsletter on our website so that others will get first hand information about the "other side."
QUESTIONS FOR SHEILA SWEENEY
Questions about harm
The Villager reports that you are concerned about "potential harm to consumers" because there is a large percentage of massage therapists practicing with little formal education."
I would appreciate your providing me with well-documented information that replies to the questions I asked you in my previous report in the Massage Law Newsletter, and to the following questions in this report.
My research, provides well-documented evidence that massage therapists, regardless of their education, do not actually harm people. This evidence is presented in many of my reports. You might begin with the following:
Guest Editorial, Massage Therapists Do Not Harm People. Massage Magazine. March/April 1998.
Massage Should be Deregulated Because it Does NOT Cause Harm. Massage Law Newsletter. Vol. 5, No. 2. 1998.
Follow the Money Trail to Find Out Why Scare Tactics Tell Us Secular Massage is Harmful. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. Special Issue No. 4. 1997.
The Corporatization of Massage. An Economic Perspective. Massage Law Newsletter. Vol. 2, No. 2. 1997.
Questions about education
With respect to your concern that: A large percentage of massage therapists "practicing with little formal education could mean potential harm to consumers:"
1. Precisely what do you mean by "formal education"? And how much "formal education" is "little formal education" compared to enough? What's the cutoff point for "little" and "enough" formal education? And what well-documented information justifies this cutoff point?
2. How many massage therapists and what percent of all massage therapists, in Minnesota, are "practicing" with what you call "little formal education"?
3. How many massage therapists with "little formal education" have caused well-documented harm? How many people have those massage therapists harmed? What was the nature of the injuries, and how serious were they?
4. If there is no well-documented evidence that massage therapists "with little formal education" have actually harmed people in the past:
(a) Why do you assume they may harm people in the future?
(b) Why do you assume they do not have enough education, formal or informal?
5. To what "standards that are nationally recognized" do you refer?
6. What well-documented evidence do you have that massage therapists with "little formal education" are more likely to harm people, than massage therapists who have had the formal education which meets "standards that are nationally recognized"?
7. What well-documented evidence do you have that "standards that are nationally recognized" are necessary to protect the public from harm and to produce massage therapists who are competent in terms of on-the-job performance?
8. What well-documented evidence do you have that massage therapists (who have been "practicing" for many years with "little formal education") are less competent (in terms of on-the-job performance) and are more likely to harm people than massage therapists who have met "standards that are nationally recognized"?
9. If massage therapists (who have been "practicing" for many years with "little formal education") have had many satisfied clients and have not harmed anybody, why should they now be required to have more "formal education" and meet "standards that are nationally recognized"?
What about prostitution?
The alleged need to regulate massage to control prostitution often pops up when regulation is promoted on state and local levels. However, my research has shown that state regulation of massage and local ordinances do NOT significantly reduce prostitution.
This information is in my report, Prostitution and Massage. Part 1: State Regulation of Massage and Local Ordinances do not Reduce Prostitution. Part 2: The Reality of Prostitution. (Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. Special Issue No. 2. 1997)
Also see Robert N. Calvert's Letter to the Editor about my report on prostitution in Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. Vol. 3, No. 3. pages 6 and 7.
SISTER ROSALIND GEFRE
I would appreciate your providing me with well-documented information that replies to questions in my previous report in the Massage Law Newsletter, and to the following questions
1. How do you define what you call an "over- night workshop"?
2. What well-documented evidence do you have that an "overnight workshop" does not provide adequate training for massage therapists?
3. How do you define "adequate training" for massage therapists, and what well-documented evidence justifies your definition of "adequate training"?
4. How do you objectively measure competence of massage therapists in terms of on-the-job performance?
5. If you are unable to objectively measure competence (in terms of on-the-job performance), what well-documented evidence do you have that massage therapists (who have had an "overnight workshop") are incompetent in terms of on-the-job performance?
My previous report in the Massage Law Newsletter has some questions concerning your comment about "loads of doctors writing prescriptions for massage." I have these additional questions for 1997, 1998, or any other year you prefer:
1. How many massage therapists treated doctors' patients for whom massage was prescribed?
2. How many of those "loads of prescriptions for massage" were for stress reduction, for relief of pain, and for relief of dysfunction?
3. Did any of the doctors, who wrote "loads of prescriptions for massage" or any of their patients have well-documented complaints about the massage therapists who treated those patients?
4. If so: (a) How many such complaints were there? (b) What was the nature of the complaints? And (c) What was the training and experience of the massage therapists about whom complaints were made?
5. If there were no complaints, can we not justifiably assume that both the doctors and their patients were satisfied with the results of the massage therapy WITHOUT STATE REGULATION OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS?
IF THAT IS SO, WHY FIX SOMETHING THAT'S NOT BROKEN?
Finally, Barbara McMonigal-St. Dennis "in the St. Paul city Office of License Inspections and Environmental Protection" noted that, "Until 1993, St. Paul required massage therapists to have a certain number of hours of education... Though the city has dropped that requirement, we're seeing people" [presumably massage therapists] "coming in with more and more hours of education" WITHOUT STATE REGULATION OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS.
A QUESTION FOR SHEILA SWEENEY
AND SISTER ROSALIND GEFRE
Why don't you support House Bill 537? This bill provides freedom of access to com- plementary and alternative health care, including massage therapy. It provides freedom of choice for the consumer and freedom to practice for both licensed and unlicensed practitioners. It does not put anybody out of work. It does not cause any practitioners economic harm.
Specifically, in what ways would House Bill 685 and Senate Bill 1042 better serve the public than House Bill 537?
" FACTS ARE STUBBORN THINGS"
No one knows what an "adequate training"
is for massage therapists
After more than four-and-a-half centuries of state regulation, there is no well-documented information which tells us what kind of training and how many hours of training constitute adequate training for massage therapists.
The four-and-a-half centuries is obtained by adding up the number of years that states have had massage laws. This gives the total number of state massage-law years. For example Ohio, which began regulating massage in 1916, has 83 (1999 minus 1916) state massage-law years. For all 23 states that now regulate massage, the total number of state massage law-years amounts to more than four and a half centuries.
The fact that there is still no agreement on what kind of training and how many hours of training are needed raises the question - needed for what?
It makes no sense to define an adequate training as one which produces massage therapists who are competent in terms of on-the-job performance because there's no way to objectively measure that kind of competence. Therefore no one knows what kind of training and what number of hours of training are needed to produce a massage therapists who is competent in terms of on-the-job performance.
Here's the proof of
State-required trainings vary from 250 hours in Texas and 1,000 hours in Nebraska to 3,000 hours in British Columbia. This Canadian province requires 2,725 more hours of training than Texas and 2,000 more hours of training than Nebraska, which requires 750 more hours of training than Texas. But there is no well-documented evidence that any one of these trainings produces more or less competent massage therapists than the other two.
Because of this wide variation among states, some people think we need national requirements which would be the same for all states. But since state requirements make no sense, why would national requirements make any sense?
With respect to competence in terms of on-the-job performance:
There is no well-documented evidence that self-taught massage therapists are not as competent as massage therapists who graduated from massage schools.
There is no well-documented evidence that those who graduate from accredited massage schools are more competent that those who graduate from nonaccredited massage schools.
There is no well-documented evidence that the widely accepted 500-hour training produces more competent massage therapists than a training of 250 hours does.
There is no well-documented evidence that Nebraska's 1,000-hour produces more competent massage therapists, than trainings of 500 hours do.
There is no well-documented evidence that the Province of Ontario's 2,200-hour training produces more competent massage therapists than trainings of 500 and 250 hours do.
There is no well-documented evidence that British Columbia's 3,000-hour training produces more competent massage therapists than trainings of 2,000, 1,000, or 500 hours would.
The usual arguments for licensure, and in particular the paternalistic arguments for licensure, are satisfied almost completely by certification alone. If the argument is that we are too ignorant to judge good practitioners, all that is needed is to make the relevant information available. If, in full knowledge, we still want to go to someone who is not certified, that is our business. - Milton Freedman
ALBERT'S "RULES OF ORDER"
To intelligently discuss whether state regulation is needed to protect the public from harm by allegedly inadequately trained massage therapists, it is necessary to have well-doc- umented information about
1. How much harm has actually occurred, the nature of the injuries, and how serious they were - in states which do and do not regulate massage therapists.
2. The amount and kind of training, and the years of experience of the massage therapists who actually caused the harm.
Without this well-documented information, there neither is nor can there be any well-documented evidence that:
1. State regulation protects the public from harm.
2. State regulation is needed to protect the public from harm
3. State regulation could provide that pro- tection if it were needed.
4. Some massage therapists are inadequately trained while others are adequately trained, regardless of the amount and kind of training that they all have.
Without this well-documented evidence, there's nothing to discuss.
Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where to find information on it. - Samuel Johnson
Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies in us while we live. - Norman Cousins