Representatives of seven organizations in the massage therapy profession met in September for a Leadership Summit in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose of the meeting was twofold: to identify the most significant challenges and limitations that currently exist in this field, and to begin the process of developing and implementing solutions that will enable it to move forward in its evolution. Those present were:

• Alliance for Massage Therapy Education: President Pete Whitridge and Executive Director Rick Rosen

• American Massage Therapy Association: President Glenath Moyle and Executive Director Shelly Johnson

• Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals: Chairman Bob Benson and President Les Sweeney

• Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation: Commissioner Randy Swenson and Executive Director Kate H. Zulaski

• Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards: Executive Director Debra Persinger

• Massage Therapy Foundation: President Ruth Werner

• National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Chair Alexa Zaledonis and Chief Executive Officer Paul Lindamood, who has since left the organization.

“In preparation for this meeting, each of the organizations submitted proposed agenda items that provided the raw material for the discussions. Broad agreement emerged about a need to pursue opportunities for improvement in order to become an effectively functioning profession,” a statement from the group read. “The current challenge, at its most fundamental level, goes to the inconsistent quality of massage therapy services provided to clients.

“Inconsistent quality, depth and focus of entry-level massage therapy education and licensure portability (or professional mobility) were identified as priority discussion items. Regarding entry-level education, a series of factors were identified that need to be addressed, including: curriculum design, teacher competency, student assessment and updating subject matter to match evidence-informed practice.”

The representatives will meet again in May, in addition to engaging in ongoing telephone and electronic communication.