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Just released - the 2nd Draft of the Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge

We have just released the 2nd draft of the MTBOK as scheduled, and its available to download at along with a brief press release.

I hope you will go to the site, download the document, read it and provide us with your comments (a link to our online comment form is on the site and on the first page of the MTBOK document).

We will hold a formal comment period open until March 8, 2010. In my opinion this is the most important part of the project because the profession has a chance to give us your guidance on where you think we need correction, and I hope to let us know where we have got it right.

We do listen - every one of the 600 or so comments we received on the first draft was read and taken into account as the 2nd draft was produced. I think the MTBOK has gotten much better as a result of your participation, and I hope we can continue to receive your suggestions.

We will be producing a final MTBOK for delivery in early May, and with your help it can become rooted in our profession and a living document that changes with the growth of our profession.

Its an exciting time!

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Comment by Chip Hines on February 18, 2010 at 9:47am

The KSA portion of the MTBOK does represent what the task force collectively feels are the things that an entry level massage therapist needs to know and be able to do - i.e. a body of knowledge for the profession (at least at the entry level).

Right now, even this basic state is not agreed upon - individual schools develop their own curriculum, COMPTA, FSTMB and NCBTMB each develop their own criteria, largely based upon what massage therapists are doing in their work, etc. The MTBOK is being built by a group of volunteers from the profession, and is designed to have the profession itself determine what SHOULD be the KSAs posessed by entry level massage therapists. THe most important element of this project is to establish this initial consensus point. From there the profession will have the opportunity to evolve the BOK as they need and are willing to participate.

To get the process started, 8 volunteers were selected to for the task force. Its difficult to involve more that this many people and make progress - and I can tell you that much of the MTBOK is built on consensus rather than unanimous agreement. Since we do take seriously the comments that are given to us, I can tell you that for every concept there are lots of supporters and detractors. Trying to build a BOK in this environment is both a real challenge and very rewarding.

The MTBOK sponsors are united in the support of the MTBOK. Unlike in many professions, however there is not a single dominant organization that represents us all.

Even at the entry level, this is a challenging job because of the wide range of the work done by massage therapists, and our underlying charges included being inclusive and representative of the full field of massage therapy.

The MTBOK will fit neatly into the domains of the profession, and if accepted, adopted and supported, will be well positioned to help the growth and stature of the profession. I think it holds a key position that will serve as a catalyst to change in an integrated, profession wide fashion. Two elements of the MTBOK help show this (in addition to the single central encapsulation of what a MT needs to know and be able to do). First, it delineates some of the science based underpinnings of the therapeutic relationship - a good step towards establishing the solid rationale for why its important to work with clients in certain ways. Since a lot of this is based on "new" science and research, we have tied the information to reference material that supports the inclusion of these KSAs. This leads to the second key element of the MTBOK - it supports the value of research within the profession. At the one end we include research and information literacy as therapist KSAs, and at the other we include reference material supporting the new science KSAs. As the MTBOK evolves, I hope that it will tie directly to the research community in links to supportive research and as a place that gaps in supporting research need to be filled.

Finally, this is just the initial MTBOK - its value will grow as the profession wills it. In July the terms of all the task force members expire, and there is no "rollover" of any of the MTBOK key personnel (myself included). There will be plenty of opportunity for others to guide the continuing directions of the MTBOK.

For the next couple of months, while I am still on this project, Id be happy to take suggestions on how the MTBOK process itself should be continued, and I can pass these on to the MTBOK steward organizations for their deliberations and action. (The ability to provide comments on the content will continue to exist and will be held by the stewards for those who step up to continue the process)

With regard to your other feelings about a "true BOK", the vision is that:

-educators expand the BOK into a detailed curriculum (and have the opportunity to compete based on their ability to deliver),
-COMPTA (hopefully) will use the MTBOK as part of their means of accreditation;
- FSTMB and NCBTMB will use the MTBOK in the grounding of their certification and testing
- Researchers will tie their results to the MTBOK, and look for gaps where research needs to be applied
- Practitioners will benefit from the single source of information about what they need to know and be able to do through a more consistent profession wide accepted BOK, and through CE built upon key elements of the BOK, and
- a recognized MTBOK may help bring about more consistent laws and regulations applying to massage therapy at the state and local levels.

I hope that this vision will be aided by the participation of more people from the profession.
Comment by Carl W. Brown on February 17, 2010 at 2:30pm

Unfortunately they have not made the changes to convert it to a real BOK. It does not set the minimal requirements for a massage therapist to perform to a basic standard that came be shown as essential for minimal professional competence. It is just a laundry list of potential skills that an MT may posses.

To be a true BOK it must only address the essential KSAs and assign a minimal competency for each. MTs failing to meat each and every KSA to the specified skill level should be considered sub-standard. These essentials should be based on real world performance or documented hazardous performance that can be corrected by proper education and training.
Comment by Chip Hines on February 12, 2010 at 9:27pm
Sure Mike. There have been a lot of changes as a result of the many comments we have received, the continuing efforts of the Task FOrce and some needed formatting and cosmetic changes as well.

we have tried to make the language a little more readable, we have tried to set the record straight about massage therapy vs other professions (essentially if they have their own fully operational and professional regulations, education requirements, exams, etc) we dont believe they have to be, or perhaps even should be required to be massage therapists; we integrated what was called New Science into the KSAs in the body of the document and moved the supporting research/reading to follow the bibleography. We have made a lot of changes to the KSAs themselves, have tried to smooth out the scope section, including trying to make it easier to spot our approach and background on how to review the document.

Right now the task force is revisiting the whole terminology section because we felt more needed to be done. The intent is to remove common terms and focus on massage related terms.

We are continuing to get a number of formal comments and suggestions via the online comment submission form, and will work through each and everyone of them before the final document is issued on May 15th.
Comment by Mike Hinkle on February 12, 2010 at 4:44pm
Hi Chip, Could you give us a quick over of what changes were made between the two drafts?
Comment by Vlad on February 3, 2010 at 3:39pm
I'll be giving my comments soon. I've done my initial read and highlighting, but this squirrel needs to read it at least one more time before I give comments. It's an interesting read too though.

There was a lot of work involved in putting it together, so a virtual fist bump to all involved.
Comment by Laura Allen on February 3, 2010 at 3:10pm
I have been BEGGING people to comment on it!

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