The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) and the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) have released a joint statement to announce a collaboration in the area of continuing education for massage therapists; however, details pertaining to the partnership have not yet been made public. The statement reads:
The new joint statement is the latest step on a path populated by NCBTMB and FSMTB; continuing education providers; state regulatory boards; and the approximately 168,000 massage therapists estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor to be currently working in the U.S.
A request by MASSAGE Magazine for additional information was responded to by a statement from FSMTA Executive Director Debra Persinger, Ph.D., that the organizations do not have more information to share at this time. Former NCBTMB Chair and current Interim CEO Leena Guptha, D.O., B.C.T.M.B., also said additional information on this topic is not available at this time.
Guptha was named Interim CEO on March 31, following an announcement that CEO Steve Kirin would not renew his contract with NCBTMB. Chair-Elect Bruce Baltz, L.M.T., B.C.T.M.B., assumed the role of chair.
The Role of NCBTMB
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists, and most boards require continuing education courses to renew a massage credential. Associations require continuing education courses as well. Forty-one U.S. state boards of massage therapy are member organizations in the FSMTB.
The NCBTMB was established in 1992. The organization administered its National Certification Exam for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, which was also utilized as a state exam by many states, until 2014, when the FSMTB became the only national entity to administer a state licensing exam, its Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx).
The NCBTMB then turned its attention to promoting and administering its Board Certification, which it had introduced to the massage field in 2013, while continuing to approve continuing education providers and classes.
New Massage Continuing Education Program
The FSMTB began creating a program for continuing education, including approval of providers and delivery of content—a move met with some consternation by leaders in the massage field.
A page on the FSMTB’s site is dedicated to its “REACH For Professional Education” program. The page states, in part, “On behalf of our member boards, the FSMTB will approve and supervise continuing education sponsors and their courses. Additionally, the FSMTB will offer regulatory education, as requested by FSMTB’s member boards, through the Regulatory Education and Competence Hub (REACH).”
The page further states that the core elements of the REACH program are “continuing education approval, course search, and public safety courses,” which will live on the FSMTB’s website.
Soon after the REACH program was announced, another national organization, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), distributed a press release to announce its support of the NCBTMB as the only organization that should approve continuing education providers and classes.
On March 1 of this year, the AFMTE published “Open Letter to Massage & Bodywork Community Re: REACH Program” on its website, in which the AFMTE declared its concerns with the program. It is not clear if the AFMTE’s position had anything to do with the new NCBTMB-FSMTB partnership.
MASSAGE Magazine will update this story as details are made available.