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NCBTMB Hires New CEO, Pursues Greater Visibility

The new CEO hired by The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) plans to position the board as an advocate for massage therapy and national certification of massage therapists. Christopher E. Laxton told MASSAGE Magazine that the NCBTMB's plan will be achieved, at least in part, by educating and networking with leaders in the mainstream and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) health-care professions.

"The idea of health-policy work is clearly important to us, as well as the ability we might have [to work] with others in the CAM field," Laxton said. "Raising the visibility of CAM as a solution to the problems in the American health-care system today is another concern we have."

Laxton has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, management and communications, with 21 of those years in health care. He most recently served as chief executive officer of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Laxton said the NCBTMB will develop coalitions or relationships with state boards, peer organizations in massage and bodywork, and organizations and "thought leaders" in health care, including those at the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

"[NCBTMB President Donna Feeley] and I have already started initiating conversation with the NIH and the NCCAM, [and] we've joined a coalition of academic providers of CAM, [the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care]," Laxton said.

As part of the NCBTMB's plan to raise its profile, Feely has applied to present an abstract at the American Public Health Association meeting this year about "how massage and bodywork fits into the broader

public health community, to highlight the importance of the credential and how that fits into the general health-care system," Feeley said.

"It's an exciting time," Laxton said. "It feels like we're on the cusp of some new developments, both internally and externally, with the possibility of taking this growing profession of massage therapy and bodywork and raising its visibility."

NCBTMB examinations are used or recognized in statute or rule by 30 states plus the District of Columbia, according to NCBTMB press materials. There are more than 82,000 massage therapists and bodyworkers certified through the NCBTMB.

—Karen Menehan