Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge

Recently I attended The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education's first annual conference in Park City, Utah. While there I attended a workshop presented by Kevin Pierce to discuss the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge. For those of you that don't know, The Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK), is a document that has been created under the direction of the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge stewards who consist of representatives from AMTA, ABMP, FSMTB, MTF and NCBTMB.

The document;s intention is to represent the massage community. As stated in the document itself, the 4 crucial elements of the document are:

  • A description of the massage therapy field
  • A Scope of Practice for massage therapy
  • A description of the competencies of an entry-level massage therapist in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities
  • Terminology specific to the massage therapy field or which have specific meanings in massage therapy

Although the MTBOK has no legal authority, the document may be used by regulatory bodies in their decision-making processes in regard to massage therapy. At the workshop I attended, this was a central point of concern and debate. Some felt the MTBOK was overtly limiting in its Scope of Practice for massage, while others felt it might be overreaching in its attempts to define entry-level skills

Many felt the document did not accurately represent massage therapy. Angela Palmier of Resource ETC asked a viable question, "Suppose that a legislator, accrediting body or other 'official' entity realizes that a body of knowledge has been created. Will they use that body of knowledge to evaluate a program or use it as a guideline for scope of practice?"

As Kevin Pierce stated during the workshop, "Our profession is becoming regulated. There is no going back." That being said, if you would like your voice to be heard and affect how you are represented by the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge, then I encourage you to read it and participate in its creation.

The MTBOK is intended to be a living document, meaning it can be revised and changed as massage therapists, such as you, participate in the process. You're asked to submit your comments in regard to the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge by e-mail at