The two largest U.S. massage associations have united in their support of a relatively new massage licensing exam.

On Jan. 27 the nation’s largest massage association, Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP), released a statement commending the American Massage Therapy Association’s (AMTA) statement of Jan. 26, in which the AMTA announced its support of the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx).

“We applaud the decision of the AMTA board of directors,” said ABMP President Les Sweeney. “This is an important step forward for the profession.”

In the early 1990s AMTA helped create the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, which until the past three years was the exam most used in state regulation of massage therapists. In 2005 ABMP helped create the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), which developed the MBLEx, an exam that has since been adopted by most states that regulate massage therapists.

“ABMP wishes to recognize AMTA’s courage and selflessness in assessing changes in the profession and endorsing the separation of roles for NCBTMB and FSMTB exams,” the ABMP’s statement noted.

On Jan. 26 MASSAGE Magazine reported on the AMTA’s statement.

The two associations are the primary membership groups of massage therapists in the U.S. ABMP counts more than 65,000 members; AMTA has more than 58,000 members.

“For 22 years, ABMP and AMTA have healthily competed to secure and retain members of their respective professional membership organizations,” The ABMP’s statement noted. “For the good of the profession, it is important that the two organizations can complement that competition by working in agreement on important issues, like the entry-level exam choice.”