Evanston, IL — Balance was the theme at the American Massage Therapy Association’s® (AMTA) 2010 National Convention, held Sept. 22 to 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The association released results of its 14th annual consumer survey on use of massage, announced a new relationship with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Association, presented a ceremonial check for $547,000 to the Massage Therapy Foundation and held its third Student Day to help massage school students prepare for their careers.

With a convention focus on the integration of massage therapy in health care, hundreds of massage therapists attended continuing education sessions tied to health care and participated in external special events connected to the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. The more than 1,450 convention attendees also met with 70 companies in the exhibit hall offering professional information, products and services for massage therapists.

Consumer survey results announced at convention

This marked the first time the association released during the convention results of its annual survey of consumers about their use of massage. Usually released during National Massage Therapy Awareness Week® in late October, AMTA chose to announce the information early to help massage therapists have a better grasp of the effects of the economy on massage therapy as soon as possible. 

“We are releasing the information now, instead of next month, because it is so relevant, we want you to have it right away,” said AMTA Interim Executive Director Shelly Johnson at the convention opening session. 

The survey showed use of massage down from the previous year, but it indicated a firm understanding of the value of massage by consumers, who the association believes will return to more regular massages as the economy improves. The survey also indicated a strong recognition of AMTA by consumers and a preference for AMTA massage therapists over other massage therapists.

“AMTA is the most recognized massage therapy organization,” says Johnson. “More than twice as many consumers recognize AMTA than any other massage organization. And they seek AMTA massage therapists two to one over members of any other massage organization.”

AMTA presents $547,000 to Massage Therapy Foundation

During the opening session of the convention, AMTA President Kathleen Miller-Read presented Massage Therapy Foundation President Ruth Werner with a symbolic check of $547,000, representing the largest one-year commitment ever by AMTA to support the work of the foundation.

“As the primary benefactor for the Foundation, AMTA is proud of its in-kind and direct monetary support for the day-to-day operations of the foundation,” said Miller-Read. AMTA supports the Foundation to ensure that massage therapy education and practice are evidence-informed and to help support the foundation’s efforts to conduct significant research on the use, safety and effects of therapeutic massage.

Convention focus on massage and health care

Because of the rapid growth of massage therapy into health-care environments, AMTA chose to devote special attention at the convention to the whole realm of massage in health care. Dozens of continuing education (CE) sessions focused on massage tied to medical issues and AMTA collaborated with Northwestern Health Sciences University and Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing for a post-convention tour and discussion of the facility’s model for integrated health care. A follow-up event in support of the Massage Therapy Foundation offered 12 hours of CE credit for a class by Tracy Walton titled, “Cancer and Massage: Safe Practice Steps for Massage Therapists and Massage Elements for Medically Complex Clients.”

Keynote speaker, Loyd Frank Jarell, D.C., included a wide variety of information about how massage therapy and chiropractic are working together in his speech, which emphasized the convention theme of balance. 

AMTA and NHPCA announce collaboration

During the opening session, Johnson announced a new agreement with the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Association to collaborate on discussions for integrated approaches to health care in North America. The collaboration will foster discussions among complementary and alternative health-related professions to advance integrated health care. 

“We are very happy to be collaborating with the NHPCA to foster dialogue on integrative health care,” said Miller-Read. “Massage therapy is increasingly a part of integrative approaches to health in both the U.S. and Canada. This relationship will expand the connections AMTA already has built with integrative health organizations in the U.S.”

In a joint press release issued that day, “We are delighted to be partnering with AMTA on these discussions,” says Paul Buffel, NHPCA president. “We have been talking with AMTA for several years and see an opportunity for the two organizations to work together and move integrated health to a new level.”

Third Annual Student Day hosts More than 150 Students

For the third year, the AMTA convention hosted a special Student Day for area massage therapy school students to learn from experts about how to prepare to be a success in their profession. More than 150 students heard from Lynda Solien-Wolfe, Heather Zdan, Michael McGillicuddy and Shelly Johnson about marketing their practices, retailing products, finding the right workplace and the future outlook for the profession. Attendees also participated in a class on interviewing skills and resume writing, as well as opportunities to meet with experts in the field and convention exhibitors. 

National award recipients

AMTA recognized many members and chapters for their contributions to the association and the profession. Dolly Wallace if Michigan received the Distinguished Service Award for her long-term service to AMTA and her example of selflessness. Other individual national recipients are:

  • Maureen Moon (Colorado) – President’s Award
  • Dan Barrow (New Mexico) – National Meritorious Award
  • Nestor Battung (Illinois) and Richard Testa (Connecticut) – Sports Massage Achiever Award
  • John Vines (Massachusetts) – Humanitarian Award
  • Lee Stang (Connecticut) – Outstanding Government Relations Activist Award
  • Toni Roberts (Georgia) of the National Position Statements Proposal Review Workgroup – Outstanding Volunteer Group Chair Award

Melissa Wheeler, this year’s Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award recipient was also recognized at the convention opening session and at the teachers’ luncheon. In addition, 237 members were recognized for their membership anniversaries of 25 to 45 years.

Speeches available online

The text of opening session speeches by Miller-Read and Johnson are available on the AMTA website at www.amtamassage.org/events/NationalConvention2010_news.html.

AMTA members convene for their convention each fall for educational workshops, information about current research on the efficacy of massage, association business meetings and a tradeshow. The 2011 AMTA national convention will be held in Portland, Oregon, Oct. 19 to 22.

The American Massage Therapy Association is the largest nonprofit, professional association for massage therapists in North American with more than 56,000 massage therapist and massage school members. The association is directed by volunteer leadership and fosters ongoing, direct member-involvement through its 51 chapters. AMTA works to advance the profession through ethics and standards, the promotion of fair and consistent licensing of massage therapists in all states, and public education on the benefits of massage.