We have all suffered from underprepared and under-qualified educators in this field, and we will all benefit from a stronger and more consistent educational community.
This is why the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) is an asset to educators and practitioners alike.
The AFMTE represents the interests of the education sector, as one of the primary stakeholder groups that comprise today’s massage therapy field. The vision of the AFMTE, to quote its vision statement, ” … is to advance the therapeutic massage and bodywork professions by strengthening and elevating educational practices and standards through supporting, credentialing, and engaging educators.”
The first phase of this project, the “Core Competencies for Massage Therapy Teachers,” was published in 2013. The competencies identified the foundational knowledge, skills and attitudes educators must possess to produce successful and consistent outcomes with adult learners in a variety of massage and bodywork settings.
With the core competencies as a foundation, the AFMTE has proceeded to develop a model teacher training curriculum, implement a new credential specifically for educators, and assemble educational resources to support the efforts of both entry-level and continuing-education massage and bodywork educators.
In 2019, the AFMTE implemented an Educator Certification Program. This program awards the Certified Massage and Bodywork Educator (CMBE) credential to educators who can demonstrate proficiency in the core competencies for teachers. This is a voluntary process where experienced educators provide a teaching portfolio for peer review.
The goal of this program is to provide a pathway to educator certification for those educators who have experience in the classroom, who have developed the knowledge, skills and attitudes for successful outcomes, and who have little need or interest in returning to school to acquire a teaching certificate.
This effort is supported by all the major stakeholder groups in the massage therapy field, as we know creating and maintaining consistent educational standards moves us one step closer to becoming a recognized and respected health care profession.
“Taking our place as a health care profession requires that educators up their game too,” said Deborah Kimmet, one of the first CMBE credential recipients.
“AFMTE’s certification process is on the way to becoming the standard educator certification for our profession [and is] a step that is a long overdue.”
To date, 10 educators have achieved certification, with several more portfolio applications in the review process. These early adopters of the new credential are helping to set a new standard in education.
“It takes a group of people willing to do the right thing to make a difference,” said massage educator Sandy Fritz. “That is why I became a Certified Massage and Bodywork Educator. I encourage educators to learn more and become a CMBE.”
The AFMTE’s leadership believes credentialing instructors in both entry-level training programs and post-graduate studies will strengthen and improve the overall quality of therapeutic massage and bodywork education.
As the number of certified educators grows, researchers will be collecting the data on effectiveness and outcomes. If the research shows a correlation between educator credentials and outcomes, what this might mean for certified educators in the future? Perhaps this could include:
• Recognition and respect from other health care educators
• More students in entry-level training programs
• More participants in post-graduate courses
• Better teaching opportunities
• Better pay
• More collaboration with other educators and educational institutions
This is a question we are asking right now — and the more educators that participate in the Educator Certification Program, the more opportunities we will have to answer this question and others.
About the Author:
Deanna Sylvester, LMT, is manager of the AFMTE Educator Certification Project. She is a licensed massage therapist and educator who has devoted nearly 20 years to quality education in therapeutic massage and bodywork. Sylvester is also chief operations officer at Sohnen-Moe Associates, publishers of educational materials for wellness programs.