The American Massage Therapy Association is the predominant organization for massage therapists with over eighteen thousand members, representing all fifty states, D.C., the Virgin Islands, and several foreign countries. Membership is a good indication of professional preparation. It requires one of the following:
1. Graduation from a training program approved by the Commission on Massage Training Accreditation/Approval. This is an accreditation agency commissioned by the AMTA. This assures the practitioner has completed a program of a minimum of six months duration with five hundred in-class hours of training. There are currently fifty-eight massage therapy schools accredited by COMTAA. Subjects include anatomy and physiology, massage techniques, and practical training.
2. Holding a state license that meets AMTA certification standards.
3. Passing an AMTA membership entrance examination.
4. Passing the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. Six states have adopted this exam, developed by the AMTA, as their licensing exam. It is anticipated that eventually all the states that license massage will adopt this exam and the number of such states is expected to increase.
In early 1994 this exam was accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, a major independent agency that evaluates professional certification programs according to stringent standards.
Membership in the AMTA also requires six hours of continuing education every two years.
The AMTA publishes a membership registry for use by its members and provides referrals to local practitioners. Address: 820 Davis St., Suite 100, Evanston, IL 60201-4444, phone (708) 864-0123.
A Case of "Broken-Hearted Feet"
Amy was a fifty-year-old woman who came to a Rosen Method practitioner for help with a variety of stress related symptoms in her body. She was particularly concerned about a sensation that the bones in her feet were crumbling, though there was no physical indication of this. She had several sessions over a period of months.
During the course of one session the practitioner asked her what happened to the free, fun-loving little girl that she once was. This stimulated Amy's recall of an experience of riding her horse all around and being free. She then remembered that one day during her adolescence her parents, without warning, sold her beloved horse. She recalled that the horse had bad feet. The practitioner commented, "It's interesting about the horse's feet ..." At this, Amy began to experience a welling up of deep feelings of unexpressed grief at the loss of her horse, feelings she hadn't been able to express before.
Gail Gardener, a Rosen Method practitioner in Sebastopol, California, recounts this story as an example of how bodywork can help bring to awareness previously unexpressed feelings, resulting in their release.
Other Forms of Bodywork or Energy Work
Finding a competent practitioner of the other forms of bodywork or energy work is essentially a matter of asking whether they are certified by the particular professional association for the method being used. Some practitioners integrate multiple methods, but if they are not certified in any one, their preparation is dubious. It is best to work with someone who has completed training and thereby has achieved a standard of expertise in at least one method.