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The 3 R's: Research, Regulation, and Raising Standards

Yesterday, I had shared on my FB a post from Ruth Werner, President of the Massage Therapy Foundation, entitled “Who Needs Research Literacy?. I commented on that that all massage schools need to ramp it up and start including research literacy as part of their core curriculum.

That garnered a comment from a fellow massage therapist that schools wouldn’t start teaching it unless there was a regulatory requirement that they do. I hope that isn’t true.

I think the MTF has been doing a great job of spreading the word in the massage community. And there are so many industry supporters as well. The MTF transcends politics, as I have said before. The AMTA,
ABMP, and NCBTMB all contribute. Massage Warehouse, Massage Envy, Biofreeze, and others have done a lot to raise money and raise awareness. I blab about it a lot myself on my blog and to my networks.

Research literacy does not imply that we expect massage schools to start teaching advanced statistics or turn out the next Tiffany Field.
According to Ruth’s post, research literacy means being able to:

1. Find a pertinent article

2. Read and understand it

3. Critically evaluate its credibility

4. Apply findings to practice

5. And if you’re really paying attention, come up with some more questions to ask about it…

Why would any school wait for regulation to force the issue of raising standards, in the interest of improving the education of students, which in this case could potentially have such effects as raising the credibility and profile of massage therapy in general, not to mention giving their therapists a leg up in their career? Physicians
are impressed by research. Research benefits clients; any time a therapist has more knowledge of a condition they’re presented with, that applies.....READ MORE

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Comment by Christopher Vallo on November 25, 2010 at 3:15pm
My realization is the change has to come from massage therapy schools getting back to the core of their purpose - to better the community through education. An institution of learning should never be told or forced to raise standards, it should happen as a course of day-to-day function.

While many schools are simply businesses to prepare someone to pass a state or national license requirement, the problem goes further into poorly contrived laws, regulations, social attitudes towards MT and the all mighty dollar.

Our professional is not unlike the psychotherapeutic field in the early 1900s, full of profound ideas that had not fully developed yet. We are still in that time where out of the 100,000 MTs in the US, many are under-trained, ill suited to the demands of the work and some even are operating under false pretenses.

We must continue to challenge the idea that 'anyone can do massage' and accept that like being a concert pianist, neurosurgeon or mental health professional, we are dealing with humans, not machines - ability, training and selflessness factor into the quality of our work.

The responsibility of a MT goes beyond our training into our where our drive to be in the healing arts comes from. Having the ability to look at research, understand the information, integrate it into your own knowledge and even challenge the validity of the data is what should be expected of anyone, in any job even more so when your clients depend on you to be a professional and be effective or at least humble about your limits.
Comment by Laura Allen on November 10, 2010 at 12:14pm
Thanks Stephen! I corrected the link.
Comment by Stephen Jeffrey on November 8, 2010 at 5:24pm
I'm with Darcy on this I've learnt loads on the value of research here on MBP and its also helped me directly when working with a client with severe Thoracic Outlet Syndrome...........Using Pubmed gave me the best up to date info on TOS. Sure you might have to read it a few times before you "get it" but it proved invaluable:)

The links above are definately worth a listen.
Comment by Stephen Jeffrey on November 8, 2010 at 4:40pm
Hi Laura
is your link correct, it goes from who needs research, to amta national elections ?
Comment by Mike Hinkle on November 4, 2010 at 4:12pm
It will be different working the two together and accomplish our goal of uniting them and therapists. There are many therapists working on these aspects at Festival this year. Thank you Laura for raising awareness. I think once therapists realize how this knowledge, of how to find information to help their clients and how it can directly increase their revenue, they will gladly "come onboard" with this effort.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on November 4, 2010 at 8:45am
Thank you Laura for this article. Everything I have been learning about research has come from this site or postings on facebook. My school taught nothing about research. 2011 will bring Research and a Massage Convention together for the very first time at Western Carolina University at the World Massage Convention. I for one am looking forward to the continued learning that has begun for me and more awareness about the World of Massage research. I hope many others will join in the fun as we work to bring this all together July 2011.

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