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I'm interested in what people think are minimum qualifications for teachers in massage schools. What does it take to teach at the entry level in a career school? What in particular would be qualifications to teach massage modalities? Is that different from minimum qualifications to teach the sciences, or the so-called softer courses of business, ethics and communications?

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Laura,
My own experience is really only with Massacusetts MTs & schools, but it seems to me, if there are "crops of less qualified MTs" it is directly related to the way Education of Massate Therapists here has become such big business.
So many schools have gone corporate, others are just one program as part of bigger technical institutes. And, at least two I've seen close up, seem like factories. Large classes, etc.
Of course the appearance of large corporate or franchises with cheap massage "memberships" encourages the mass production mentality.
Just some thoughts on this.

Laura Allen said:
I'm one of those people that made a statement like that, Vinny, but just to clarify, I had education, I passed the exam, and I wasn't grandfathered into anything. I got my license the same way others are expected to in the here and now. In spite of whatever shortcomings I have because the massage school I attended was only 525 hours, I have still managed to have two successful textbooks published by Lippincott and another one due in January.

One thing that always impressed me during the time I taught entry-level classes (I now only teach CE) was how excited the students were to be there, and how passionate they were about wanting to become good therapists. I can't recall ever meeting one who wasn't hyped about it and who didn't come into it wanting to be the best they could be.

The knowledge students receive can only be as good as the knowledge the teacher possesses and imparts, except for whatever they happen to glean on their own. If you don't believe the lack of qualified instructors is causing a crop of less qualified MTs, what would you say is the cause?

vinny andrews said:
It is amazing how many posting here state things like.."when I started little was required, though now, years later, more is.." Not ONE poster stated they have damaged students, ripped naive students off, or in any other way were just scam artists. Everyone talks of what should be required of others, not of themselves.

As in so many other parts of life, most of us appear to think WE are just fine doing what we do/did..but now that we are in positions to make rules, we fervently wish to make them...FOR OTHERS!

One poster actually stated she'd taught for 20 years, but no longer because (it took her 20 years to come to this??) too many teachers now aren't experienced enough.

It is the same in requiring cetifications, licensing etc. Why is it, that so many of us could do the job (both as MT and as instructor), but now have to make others jump thru hoops to do the same job? And we all know, we will be "grandfathered" into whatver requirements we will demand of others.

If schools are turning out less qualified MTs now, I very much doubt it is because there aren't suffcient standards for the teachers.
Thanks for the clarification. As one of the "subject matter experts" and test question writers involved in development of the MBLEx, I fully agree with you that it's not likely to be "easier" than the NCE exams.

I personally suggest that students planning to take the either exam check out the FSMTBs description of topics covered and get the NCE prep materials to practice before deciding what topics they may be weak on.

Re business abilities: As an MBA with decades of corporate and enterpreneurial experience, I think it sad that MT are taught to go into business for themselves. My observation is that few people who have a "caregiving" mindset have the ability or desire to transition between that and a business/commercial mindset. I think that entry level MTs should work for a proven MT business for at least 3-5 years before beginning to think about/prepare for private practice.

Re ethics/professional boundary violations: My observation in Los Angeles is that these occur because some new students mistakenly interpret behavioral transferrence/countertransferance common to MTs based on their prior personal life experiance.

Re schools: I expect such schools to quickly go out of business in the current environment.

Re excessive force/failure to respect client wishes: I agree with you these people either had bad instructors or failed to learn their lessons properly.
I personally feel that the requirements need not vary based upon the entry-level practitioner "hoops" since the primary asset needed is an ability to teach, not perform in the discipline. Too many laws require the teacher to have a minimum number of years experience in the field, with absolutely no mention of training in educational methodology. Most states that I am aware of have teaching requirements listed in statutes/rules of a dept. of secondary education (or equivalent). What I see as a bigger problem than determining minimum teaching quals is the enforcement of already in place requirements. If enforcement kept this years' student from teaching next years' students, the question would probably never be asked!
A reputation for turning out badly trained MTs, lack of funds and poor business practices will eventually sink "MT-mill" as well as smaller schools.

Re your perception that "NCBTMB/new exam development is that the AMTA couldn't play nice with the NCBTMB.": I suggest you check out NCBTMBs past history of management problems/lawsuits and its relationship with State massage regulatory boards.


Jennifer L. Hensley said:
If you're talking about MT-mill massage schools, I would expect they're a lot more likely to survive an economic downturn than smaller schools--the smaller schools usually don't have the back-up capital.

Our professional organizations have not been very good at recommending better schools. Generally they just give a list of COMTA-certified schools with no comment on class size, teacher qualifications, or overall quality. I had considered going to Ashmead (now Everett), until I had to deal with them via the job I had at the time--they seemed to obviously care more about getting paid than accepting a student that did not have the capability to finish. I had no reason until that time to think that it might not be a good choice. I've had massages from several of their students, and some have been good, but others have been not very skilled and were pretty rude when I asked them to change something they're doing. In comparison, I went to a formerly small school, and I know one of the students in my class never graduated because he could not make adjustments to feedback.

And what I got out of the NCBTMB/new exam development is that the AMTA couldn't play nice with the NCBTMB. I'm no longer part of the organization and that's one of the reasons (among funding and appointing Diana Thompson in charge of research, the magazine having nothing to contribute, bad tech at both the national and local level, etc.)


Noel Norwick said:
Thanks for the clarification. As one of the "subject matter experts" and test question writers involved in development of the MBLEx, I fully agree with you that it's not likely to be "easier" than the NCE exams.
I personally suggest that students planning to take the either exam check out the FSMTBs description of topics covered and get the NCE prep materials to practice before deciding what topics they may be weak on.
Re business abilities: As an MBA with decades of corporate and enterpreneurial experience, I think it sad that MT are taught to go into business for themselves. My observation is that few people who have a "caregiving" mindset have the ability or desire to transition between that and a business/commercial mindset. I think that entry level MTs should work for a proven MT business for at least 3-5 years before beginning to think about/prepare for private practice.

Re ethics/professional boundary violations: My observation in Los Angeles is that these occur because some new students mistakenly interpret behavioral transferrence/countertransferance common to MTs based on their prior personal life experiance.

Re schools: I expect such schools to quickly go out of business in the current environment.

Re excessive force/failure to respect client wishes: I agree with you these people either had bad instructors or failed to learn their lessons properly.
Hi Jan! What a great question. I too am concerned with the downgrading of our profession by the lack of education, the "dumbing down" of the material to pump more ill prepared students into the working environment (and boost the school's coffers... but that's another argument for another day....).

I feel it's imperative that a school raise the bar and hold it to at least 5 years experience in the field. The person should be WORKING in that five years, and have had at least one successful practice. How can you teach something you have not practiced? This is considering technique, professional practice, ethics, etc. Anatomy and phys can be taught by someone who knows the subject and that doesn't matter how long they've been in practice. Maybe they have a medical background? As long as they know the material really well and are a mature person who can handle a classroom that should be OK to have less than five years given their body of knowledge. There should be some kind of training or orientation program to make sure the teacher can handle a class. I've sat in some classes where the teacher may know the subject well, but have no idea how to teach the material, or rambles, or has no presentation skills.
You could seek out back issues from the past roughly 8 years of Massage magazine (www.massagemag.com) and Massage Today webzine (http://www.massagetoday.com/) for the contemporaneous details that were publicly reported about these conflicts/lawsuits in the leading trade media.

Jennifer L. Hensley said:
Do you have sources for this?

Noel Norwick said:
Re your perception that "NCBTMB/new exam development is that the AMTA couldn't play nice with the NCBTMB.": I suggest you check out NCBTMBs past history of management problems/lawsuits and its relationship with State massage regulatory boards.
Nickie, I believe Ability to Benefit test are only administered to those students who do not have either a GED or a high school diploma. Not sure how that tightens the admissions standards unless CA schools already admit those students without the test. Post secondary education, by definition, means you are moving beyond the GED/HS diploma stage.

And no, as teachers I don't think we are losing the heart of the work, but we do need to find a better balance that involves critical thinking skills rather than just rote memorization for the test. It always surprises me that people have to take a prep course to pass a test when they just finished a whole program ostensibly covering the material on the test.
The bibliography for the MBLEx

Nickie Scott said:
Noel.I haven't seen any preparatory texts for classroom use for the MBLEx. I use Mosby's Massage Therapy Review text by Sandy Fritz as a required text to help prepare students for the NCTMB test. Is this text recommended by the MBLEx creators? As a school owner and instructor I am a little concerned about the competing tests and what to recommend to my students. I use Mosby's massage career series of texts for both my 250 and 500 hour programs so I am sure that the students are getting the material they need to pass the tests and have the knowledge that they need once they have completed 500 hours. Having two levels of programming is challenging to work with in terms of continuity of instruction. As a teacher I would like to follow a logical progression but if the students only opt for 250 hours then they are left out of a large body of knowledge that is needed to help their clients. I would prefer to have just a 500-1000 hour program but I am a small school in a small town in California and there is no regulation to speak of here for massage therapists so no real motivation for students to continue on with their education unless they are really committed to learning. The larger schools can afford to get COMTA certified. Small schools will survive by providing a more personal experience for the students and by adjusting their programs to specialize in specific modalities. I am taking the intellectual portions of our program online for distance learning so the students can save money, time and be tested online. California is about to pass a new state law governing trade schools and the law will require schools to administer Ability to Benefit tests before the student can enroll for the program. This will help with reducing student attrition and help the field in general by strengthening the enrollment requirements. Some massage schools already require this.

Noel Norwick said:
A reputation for turning out badly trained MTs, lack of funds and poor business practices will eventually sink "MT-mill" as well as smaller schools.

Re your perception that "NCBTMB/new exam development is that the AMTA couldn't play nice with the NCBTMB.": I suggest you check out NCBTMBs past history of management problems/lawsuits and its relationship with State massage regulatory boards.


Jennifer L. Hensley said:
If you're talking about MT-mill massage schools, I would expect they're a lot more likely to survive an economic downturn than smaller schools--the smaller schools usually don't have the back-up capital.

Our professional organizations have not been very good at recommending better schools. Generally they just give a list of COMTA-certified schools with no comment on class size, teacher qualifications, or overall quality. I had considered going to Ashmead (now Everett), until I had to deal with them via the job I had at the time--they seemed to obviously care more about getting paid than accepting a student that did not have the capability to finish. I had no reason until that time to think that it might not be a good choice. I've had massages from several of their students, and some have been good, but others have been not very skilled and were pretty rude when I asked them to change something they're doing. In comparison, I went to a formerly small school, and I know one of the students in my class never graduated because he could not make adjustments to feedback.

And what I got out of the NCBTMB/new exam development is that the AMTA couldn't play nice with the NCBTMB. I'm no longer part of the organization and that's one of the reasons (among funding and appointing Diana Thompson in charge of research, the magazine having nothing to contribute, bad tech at both the national and local level, etc.)


Noel Norwick said:
Thanks for the clarification. As one of the "subject matter experts" and test question writers involved in development of the MBLEx, I fully agree with you that it's not likely to be "easier" than the NCE exams.
I personally suggest that students planning to take the either exam check out the FSMTBs description of topics covered and get the NCE prep materials to practice before deciding what topics they may be weak on.
Re business abilities: As an MBA with decades of corporate and enterpreneurial experience, I think it sad that MT are taught to go into business for themselves. My observation is that few people who have a "caregiving" mindset have the ability or desire to transition between that and a business/commercial mindset. I think that entry level MTs should work for a proven MT business for at least 3-5 years before beginning to think about/prepare for private practice.

Re ethics/professional boundary violations: My observation in Los Angeles is that these occur because some new students mistakenly interpret behavioral transferrence/countertransferance common to MTs based on their prior personal life experiance.

Re schools: I expect such schools to quickly go out of business in the current environment.

Re excessive force/failure to respect client wishes: I agree with you these people either had bad instructors or failed to learn their lessons properly.

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