2012 marked another very successful year for the American Massage Therapy Association® (AMTA®) as it worked to fulfill its mission of serving its members while advancing the massage therapy profession. The association launched a new, expansive consumer awareness program (including the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour), which reached tens of millions of Americans, while it provided new and enhanced benefits to its members, and released up-to-date research on the state of the profession.

Here are some of AMTA’s top stories of 2012:

AMTA Schools Summit Focused on Learning, Research and Changing School Landscape

The AMTA 2012 Massage Therapy Schools Summit February 16-17, 2012 in Chicago, IL included keynote speaker Dr. Geoffrey Bove, who reviewed his ground breaking investigations into the connection between massage therapy and pain neurobiology, along with other recent research in massage therapy.

Based on the theme Your Bridge to Success, the event included discussion and networking on providing practical solutions and support to schools in addressing the complex needs of students, teachers and administrators.

AMTA’s 2013 Schools Summit is February 7-8. [make this a link]

AMTA Releases Annual Research on Massage Therapy Profession at AMTA Massage Schools Summit

AMTA’s fifth annual summary research on the state of the massage therapy profession was released at the AMTA 2012 Massage Schools Summit in Chicago. It indicated the massage therapy marketplace was showing signs of improvement, with consumers getting more massages, and there were more massage therapists who are making more money per hour than the previous year. The research also showed massage therapists are increasingly working in health care, one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, both as massage therapists and as other health care workers.

Based on four surveys conducted for AMTA, and data from government agencies, the research continued to show that consumers ultimately determine the health of the massage therapy profession and that they accept the value of massage therapy as part of health and well-being.

AMTA’s Health Care Relationships and Their Impact on the Profession

In May, AMTA provided a public update on its involvement in ongoing interactions with health care, wellness and medical organizations. These relationships with the health care/medical communities provide a strong voice for those massage therapists who seek to work within health care, while recognizing and protecting the rights of those massage therapists who practice in other sectors of the massage therapy profession.

Further acceptance of massage therapy as a viable part of health care and wellness will benefit all in the profession.

AMTA Promotes Massage Research to Media and Consumers

In May, the American Massage Therapy Association announced targeted media efforts to educate the public on the health benefits of massage therapy being supported by new research. The association distributed to news organizations and media outlets a Research Roundup of four recent massage therapy research studies that indicate strong benefits of massage for various health issues – the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee, inflammation after exercise, chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia.

AMTA used this research as part of an active approach throughout the year with consumer and health media to encourage more coverage of the health benefits of massage, emphasizing significant medical conditions that can benefit from massage therapy.

More than 250 news outlets published or broadcast information from the Research Roundup, reaching more than 67 million people.

AMTA Announces Major Commitment to Consumer Education on Massage Therapy

– Launches in Chicago

The American Massage Therapy Association announced a major, multi-year commitment to public education on the benefits of massage therapy for health in June. In July, the association launched the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour with the AMTA mobile exhibit at the Humana Race to the Taste event in Chicago, IL. This marked the first direct consumer phase of the multi-year, multi-level commitment by AMTA to raise public awareness of the health benefits of massage therapy and of the professionalism of AMTA members.

The tour then traveled to major media markets in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York and other locations in the Mid-Atlantic states, before going to North Carolina in advance of the AMTA National Convention. In subsequent years, the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour will reach most major U.S. media centers. Locations will be chosen to effectively reach major populations and consumer media, with the van as a traveling billboard about massage for health, designed to reach millions at large events.

AMTA Consumer Awareness Program Enters Next Phase

The AMTA Consumer Awareness Program entered a new phase in August as the association began a special health care focus and secured targeted advertising.

The AMTA Massage Therapy Tour took the message of massage therapy for health to the Duke University Integrative Medicine Center for Living, with a collaborative health education fair at the Durham, North Carolina center. The emphasis of the event was on the health benefits of massage to help relieve back pain and pain from osteoarthritis of the knee, and on improving the quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Duke researchers are currently studying the effects of massage on osteoarthritis of the knee and were on-hand to discuss this major research study. Initial research at the Center was included in AMTA’s Research Roundup released to news and health care media in May.

Also in August, the association began targeted radio and newspaper advertising in six metropolitan areas where the Massage Therapy Tour had visited.

AMTA 2012 National Convention Highlights

Featuring a special video review of its new, ongoing consumer awareness program and a panel of leaders in integrative care, the AMTA national convention brought together 1,400 participants from October 3 to 6 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The association announced the creation of a new AMTA Lifetime Achievement Award honoring educator Dianne Polseno, recognized outstanding services by national and chapter leaders, and presented a ceremonial check for $450,000 to the Massage Therapy Foundation.

North Carolina Governor Beverly Eaves Perdue declared it Massage Therapy Week in the state and in a letter to AMTA said, “It is a privilege to join you in acknowledging the impact massage therapy has on the quality of life of countless citizens.”

Representatives of all of the profession’s organizations were welcomed at the opening session, and keynote speaker Molly Barker (founder of Girls on the Run International) touched the audience as she shared her inspirational story of self-empowerment and hope as an agent of change. Student Day provided 200 area students information on planning for their careers and learning good business practices.

The association’s House of Delegates approved three position statements to express AMTA’s views on how a growing body of research indicates the value of massage for specific health issues. And, a special closing session panel of Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Steven Blair of the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina; Dr. Dale Healey, dean of the School of Massage Therapy at Northwestern Health Sciences University; Dr. Adam Perlman of the Duke University Integrative Medicine Center for Living; and AMTA President Cynthia Ribeiro, Honorary Clinical Professor at the University of California-Irvine Medical School, discussed elevating the massage therapy profession through collaboration.

New Survey Shows Consumers Seek Massage for Regular Health Maintenance

Results from AMTA’s 16th annual consumer survey revealed more consumers are incorporating massage therapy into their regular health and wellness regimens to assist with medical conditions. In fact, 75 percent of individuals claim the primary reason for receiving a massage in the past 12 months was medical (43 percent) and stress (32 percent) related. Medical reasons include pain relief, soreness, stiffness or spasms, injury recovery, migraines, prevention, and general well-being.

The survey results, released in conjunction with National Massage Therapy Awareness Week®, October 21 – 27, indicate that 87 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness.

AMTA Presents New, Interactive Teacher Training

AMTA’s Master the Classroom gives new teachers, or those looking to refresh their skills, the training necessary to be successful in the classroom—all while earning essential continuing education. Launched in mid-November, this new program for teachers offers both online training and special in-person workshops. The first in-person session is planned for February during AMTA’s annual Schools Summit in Chicago.

AMTA Schools Celebrate National Massage Therapy Awareness Week

AMTA’s 16th annual National Massage Therapy Awareness Week® activities and public relations promoted the value of massage for health and wellness. Major online publications and news services published information from AMTA’s annual consumer survey and featured stories on the growing use of massage therapy for health and medical reasons.

AMTA members across the country reached out to the public with information about massage, massage demonstrations and charity events throughout the week, and photos of many were posted on AMTA’s Facebook page.

Several AMTA member schools reported their engagement in support of the week, with special events designed to help educate the public on the health benefits of massage therapy.

American Massage Therapy Association Elects National Board

On December 12, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) announced the results of its 2012 national election, conducted electronically among its Professional members. Nancy Porambo of Pennsylvania was voted President-Elect. She will serve in that position from March 1, 2013 through February 28, 2014 when she will assume the position of President. On March 1, 2013 current President-Elect, Winona Bontrager of Pennsylvania, will become AMTA President.

Nathan Nordstrom of Georgia was elected as a Vice President and will serve a two-year term beginning March 1, 2013.

Three Members-at-Large of the Board of Directors also were elected: Christopher Deery (PA), S. Pualani Gillespie (HI) and Maureen Hoock (MO).

Pat Collins (NY) and Barbara Ann Lis (IN) were elected to the Commission on Candidacy and will coordinate the candidate search for the 2013 national AMTA election.