The Evolution of Continuing Education


One of my favorite parts of belonging to the massage and bodywork community is that it is so dynamic. As a result of traveling to teach massage, I have met therapists from all over the world who collectively practice every type of modality under the sun. Some of them have been practicing all of a day and others for 60 plus years! They are of every shape, color, age, culture and gender. A beautiful mixture of diversity.


I also love to watch (and participate) in the evolution and growth of our industry, specifically regarding massage education. The last 5 years have seen tremendous collaboration among industry leaders to promote massage therapy education to the highest possible standard. One example of this mission is the upcoming 2015 Educational Congress in which 9 Massage and Bodywork stakeholder organizations are all gathering “together in one location to foster dialogue, inquiry, and creative problem-solving involved in massage therapy and body work education.” Simply amazing!


Massage and bodywork is increasingly becoming more accepted by medical professionals, patients and the general public as a realistic and attainable option for both preventative and therapeutic care. Clients seek massage for relief of common issues such as stress, pain and injury. The popularity of massage has resulted in many industry shifts including the rapid increase in the number of states that require a massage license. In 2005, only 33 states regulated massage and many of those did not require a state license. States left it up to local municipalities to regulate. Today 41 states require state licensing with another 3 having state wide Certification.


The move from regulation to licensure has taken the responsibility out of the hands of local municipalities and placed it under the responsibility of State Boards. 42 of the 50 states require therapists to pass either the MBLEx or the NCETMB and many require background checks, CPR certifications and/or first aid training. And now that NCBTMB doesn’t offer the NCETMB, therapists who didn’t take the exam before February 1, 2015 must take the MBLEx to qualify for licensure in a vast majority of states. State regulations can be daunting so here is a guide to help you navigate your state’s requirements!


I recently had a conversation with Leslie Young with the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) who was very excited about AMBP’s launch of their new Exam Coach program. The online tool is not only designed to help prepare therapists for the MBLEx, but also helps them become better test takers in general. Leslie said “ABMP is very concerned about, yet excited about the future of massage therapy and massage therapy education. The Exam Coach Program is a way for anyone in the profession, not just ABMP members, to prepare for the exam and maximize the opportunity to pass on the first attempt.”


I was able to take the tool for a test drive and can see how it could benefit students and therapists who have to re-credential as a result of moving from or lapsing in their state of residence. I thought the program was really easy to use and liked that it can be accessed from any device.


The Massage and Bodywork industry is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our clients. You can see it in the diversity of products, the development of the equipment we use and the refinement of the education offered. It is inspiring to have the opportunity to spend time with so many individuals who are working hard to make our industry, well, really the world a better place. It truly is an amazing experience to be a part of the process, isn’t it?

Massage therapy