A current attempt by the Alaska Chiropractic board to license massage therapy under their board, has sparked some life back into the Alaskan massage therapy community regarding licensing.
Alaska AMTA chapter has for many years been trying to get massage licensing for the state. The most recent and most serious attempt was about 2-3 years ago. After a year of endless researching other state legislation on massage, contacting out of state massage therapists about what worked for them and what did not, and talking to Alaskan massage therapists they had contact to, a bill was drafted and a sponsor was found. The effort failed during the public comment periods when massage therapists from around the state voiced their concerns about not having been contacted about the effort and had not been involved in the process of drafting the bill, and many simply not seeing a need for it. Alaskans don't like pesky rules and regulation and massage therapists do not want their scope of practice defined. They currently enjoy being able to do what ever they want without oversight.
Is the recent attempt by the chiropractic board a sign that there really is no choice regarding licensing? Will the last few hold outs, 7 states, be forced into state licensing, whether they like it or not? Is it just a matter of time before the chiropractors regroup, and form a much stronger movement and then the Alaskan massage therapists will be forced into state licensing, under Chiropractors? Having them decide where, how and who can practice massage in the State.
If it is a conclusion that eventually every state will have some form or licensing or regulation, Alaskan massage therapists need to become actively involved in creating regulations that are beneficial to all massage therapist and massage consumers. This is where the divisions in how massage is viewed by the individual that become an obstacle to unity and succesful licensing efforts.
Massage could be categorized as:
traditional western medical treatment
alternative, natural healing, non traditional medicine, oriental medicine
a luxurious beauty treatment
How can a one size fits all type of regulation address each category's own unique requirements in education or abilities and practices? Is massage a form of body work or is all body work a form of massage?
Alaskan massage therapists have a great opportunity in defining the different categories and draft fair legislation that address the differences within the field of massage and body work.
My personal opinion is that any legislation should include at a minimum two levels of licensing. One level for those who consider themselves part of the western concept of medical health care providers with higher education requirements and regulations that follow standard medical practices and procedures that promote the inclusion of massage therapy within the standard western medical community. But there has to be another level with just basic educational requirements for those who do not consider themselves part of the western concept of medical health care providers.
I believe the medical massage community and the general medical community will continue to push for higher education requirements, ceu's and stricter regulations that follow standard medical practices and procedures and if there is a one size fits all type of statute in place this will hurt the practice of massage in it's various forms.
I am considering getting more involved again with the Alaska state licensing effort and I would like to hear your views on:
Do you believe it is inevitable that all states will be regulated at some point in the future?
Which states in you opinion have the best legislative regulations?
What do you think about different levels of licensing?
Thank you for any input.