Evanston, IL – 2009 has been a very successful calendar year for the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) as it works to fulfill its mission by serving its members and advancing the massage therapy profession. The association has made decisions and taken actions that affect all massage therapists, provided new and enhanced benefits to its members, reached out to give back to the community and brought information about massage therapy to millions of Americans.

There are always more stories to tell than space to tell them. Following are some of AMTA’s top stories of 2009.

2009 Massage Therapy Industry Overview Released

In January 2009, AMTA released a compilation of data gathered from U.S. government statistics, surveys of consumers and massage therapists and recent clinical studies on the efficacy of massage. These data provide an overview of the state of the massage therapy profession, public and medical acceptance of the value of massage and increasing consumer usage of massage therapy based on data through 2008.

AMTA Announces Support for MBLEX as Massage Licensing Exam

On January 26, AMTA announced its view that the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx), developed by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), is the best choice for a licensing exam that can lead to portability of massage practice. The association also restated its long-held view that national certification is a valuable cornerstone of the massage therapy profession.

Then AMTA President, M.K. Brennan stated, “We hope our support for one massage licensing exam will help move the entire profession forward in a unified way.”


Two States Pass Massage Licensing Laws

In 2009, two states passed legislation to regulate massage therapy – Michigan and
Montana – raising the number of states that regulate the profession to 43. These were the result of years of work by the AMTA chapters in those states, collaboration with other massage therapy organizations and professionals and the support of AMTA’s centralized government relations approach.


AMTA Official Provider of Chair Massage Therapists for Walks Benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure®

AMTA celebrated a successful year of involvement with the 15 Breast Cancer 3-Day® events nationwide benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. AMTA was the official provider of more than 300 volunteer massage therapists for the Energizer Live it up! Lounge at the 2009 Breast Cancer 3-Day events in which participants walked 60 miles over the course of three days to raise funds to support breast cancer research. AMTA announced the commitment in July and completed support for the final walk in November. The 2009 tour was such a success AMTA and Energizer are already discussing plans for 2010.

AMTA President Judy Stahl said, “This was a signature expression of AMTA’s caring culture. AMTA stands for highest quality massage therapy. High quality and a culture of caring is what makes AMTA what it is and our members who they are as healing professionals.”


NIH involvement

In June, AMTA announced its growing relationship with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including providing it with educational information supplied to NIH staff, and development of an audio podcast to explain the benefits of massage for stress relief. Since then AMTA participated in the NIH – Office of Acquisition and Logistics Management (OALM) Holistic Health Fair in October and provided an article on massage therapy in the December NIH employee newsletter. The NIH continues ongoing dialogue with AMTA toward advocating inclusion of massage therapy in healthcare.


AMTA Social Media, Refreshed MIC launched

AMTA’s new social media program and renewed Massage Information Center (MIC), reflect the association’s aggressive outreach through electronic communications. AMTA is using the latest forms of technology to bring information about massage therapy to consumers and professional development knowledge to its professional, student and school members.

In July, AMTA announced a multi-faceted social networking program for members and consumers. The program uses Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube to bring association updates and news to its members and others in the profession. These venues also provide information to the public, opportunities for questions and dialog with consumers and with potential clients.

By December, the association’s Facebook page had nearly 3,000 fans, its YouTube channel had a wealth of video information on massage therapy, LinkedIn had connected more than 400 people and Twitter was fostering lively discussion about the profession and the association.


On September 3, the association announced a refreshed online presence for its popular Massage Information Center. The MIC features a new layout and design, streamlined navigation and updated content and resources. It’s an online repository for research, articles and professional development resources related to massage therapy. Massage therapists and consumers turn to the MIC for information related to the profession.

The MIC receives nearly 50,000 unique visitors annually.


AMTA National Convention Largest Ever

AMTA’s national convention in September saw the largest attendance in its history and featured approval of two new position statements for the association by its House of Delegates, 300+ attendees at a special massage therapy student day and a special session for input into the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge project.


AMTA Voices its Views through Approved Position Statements

During the AMTA national convention, the association’s House of Delegates debated proposals for AMTA position statements that express the sense of the membership on matters pertaining to massage therapy. This year, the delegates approved two position statements, which are now official positions of the association. This brings the total of approved position statements to six since the procedure was begun in 2006.

– It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage can aid in pain relief.
– It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that massage therapy can improve the quality of life for those in hospice and palliative care.


AMTA Contributes Record Amount to Support Massage Therapy Foundation

AMTA provided the Massage Therapy Foundation with a record of more than $500,000 for fiscal year 2009/10 to help the foundation carry out its mission and support AMTA’s goal for evidence-informed massage practice.

“As the primary benefactor for the Foundation, AMTA is proud that its in-kind and direct monetary support for the day-to-day operations of the foundation have increased this year,” said AMTA President Judy Stahl. “We are happy to promote the foundation as our massage research foundation and we strongly encourage others to contribute to the advancement of massage research through the Massage Therapy Foundation.”


AMTA’s 13th Annual Consumer Survey Shows Massage Used More Than Ever for Medical/Health Reasons

Results from AMTA’s 13th annual consumer survey indicate 32 percent of Americans are seeking massage for medical and health reasons, tying relaxation and stress reduction for the first time as the top reasons people get massages. Data also show more people had a massage in the previous 12 months, compared to the same period in 2007/08, but that they had fewer massages.


National Massage Therapy Awareness Week® Reaches Millions

AMTA’s 13th annual National Massage Therapy Awareness Week® (NMTAW) October 25-31 achieved major media attention for massage therapy in 2009. During the week, AMTA media relations efforts put massage therapy and AMTA members in front of consumers more than 100 million times. This included a posting about the week and the NMTAW logo on one of the large electronic signs in the heart of Times Square in New York City. The same image and information also were posted on the large Fashion Show Mall sign in Las Vegas, NV.

The association also produced a five-part video about massage therapy and finding a massage therapist that is posted on AMTA’s YouTube Channel. AMTA chapters and members stepped up to promote their profession and the week. Activities reported to AMTA included public demonstrations of massage, massage for elderly, ill and disadvantaged people, and contributed massage with proceeds given to local and national charities, such as Ronald McDonald House.


AMTA Online Continuing Education Hits Benchmark of 30 Courses, 15,000 Taken

In 2009, the association added four online courses, bringing the total available to 30. They range from business classes such as “Taking Care of Your Taxes” to courses on “Cancer and Massage Therapy”. Courses have now been accessed 15,400 times since AMTA began offering online courses to all massage therapists in 2006.

AMTA has been a primary provider of CE for decades. AMTA is the only national massage therapy membership organization that requires all practitioner (Professional) members to take continuing education. The association views CE as a vital part of professionalism.


December 2009