Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Monday, December 26, 2005

When an Angel Whispers & You Hear the Devil

It’s not a good thing to get an Angel upset. I’ve done it. This Angel believes that she whispered in my ear and now she thinks that I believe that I heard the Devil. No, what I read in the proposed CA state legislation on the massage therapy industry (SB 412), despite the good intentions of the Angel for a well intentioned effort, is that a good number of her fellow massage therapists are to the abandoned to the will of the Devil. Maybe it is the reality of politics, but it does not matter because it is not right.

I have written two blogs, here and here, on the current attempts to create CA legislation governing the massage industry.

Angel, not her true name, is a significant person in the massage industry, and she is a tireless worker attempting to better the lot of massage therapists. I am including her response to me because she believes that I have maligned her organization, and she deserves to be heard. I’ve quoted her e-mail to me in its entirety with the exception of excerpting her name and the name of another person mentioned in the e-mail.

Quote Redacted--Update Pending

For the record, let me unequivocally state that I am in-favor of state legislation. It there is anyone who has read my previous blogs and does not understand that fact, the fault is probably mine for not writing clearly enough.

Having said that, let me also unequivocally state that I am in-opposition to any state legislation that does not unconditionally grandfather-in any practicing massage therapist, who is currently licensed by any CA local governmental agency.

I am unequivocally in-opposition to any state legislation that does not pre-empt local government agencies from regulating the massage industry. As I have stated in my previous blogs, this is the only justification for state licensing for entry level massage practice.

I am unequivocally in-opposition to any state legislation that creates a two tier system wherein the top tier requirement can not be demonstrated to guarantee a more competent massage therapist. Such is the case in the proposed CA legislation with two tiers of 250 and 500 hours. I know of no competent research that can support the theory that 500 hours of training produces a more competent massage therapist than does 250 hours. Now, if you want to make the top tier similar to British Columbia, which is, if I recall correctly, 3300 hours, now were talking about something significant.

As to my assertion that AMTA is the genesis for the 500 hour requirement, perhaps I would have been more accurate to have included the other stakeholders in the discussion. But, I have no direct knowledge of their specific interests. I do know that 500 hours is the AMTA standard for membership in the organization and for qualifying to take their private national certification test. And, I do know that somehow a number of other states just happen to have 500 hour requirements and/or the AMTA national certification test as their state requirement. That is not just by happenstance. So to be absolutely correct, no Angel I have never heard you advocate for a single 500 hour requirement. You do, however, represent the CA chapter of AMTA, and you are speaking with the weight of AMTA and not as a private person. Please note, I not only object to the two tiers, I object to the 500 hours because that number of hours is not objectively supported by research to be significant as an indicator of competence.

If I were to bet on the subject, I’d include the massage school interests in the list supporting the 500 hour requirement because they stand to garner more business. Come to think of it, AMTA is likely to benefit as well as schools begin to churn out students with enough hours to qualify for membership in AMTA.

From your statement on ABMP, it may well be that I’ve given them too much credit. That would be too bad, because then there will be no major organization speaking for the abandoned massage therapists, who don’t fit the special criteria of the proposed legislation.

Who are the abandoned massage therapists? They are the ones who, in good faith, got the 100, 200 or some other number of training hours because that is what the local massage school provided and what the local municipal agencies required to be licensed. These massage therapists are often single mothers holding down two jobs to make ends meet. Many can not afford the time and money (tuition and lost wages) to return to massage school. They don’t have an extra $200 for each weekend class nor $300-400 plus transportation, room and board to attend an AMTA conference. And, many will not have the current requirement, nor documentation, of 400 hours of massage practice for each of the last 5 years.

I like the idea of more hours of education for foundational massage training, but until it can be demonstrated that 500 hours, for instance, creates a significantly more competent massage therapist than some lesser number of hours, there is no justification for that high a level of required education. And there is no justification for the 5 years of 400 hours of massage work experience for each year for lower tier massage therapists I would like to hear from those massage therapists who routinely hold down a full time job, raise a family and also complete an additional 400 hours of massage work each year.

The arguments that state certification is not required of massage therapists simply means that a class of massage therapists will remain under the jurisdiction of the municipalities. They will remain in the same untenable condition that they currently exist under. That is until the local municipalities adopt the state standard and all of the aforementioned class of massage therapists will suddenly become unlicensed and out of work.

Personally, I would like to see a 500 hour state requirement, but until it is justified with research, I will remain in opposition. I argue that what is good for me as a massage therapist needs to be good for the remainder of the licensed massage therapists, who do not currently meet the proposed state requirements.

So to Angel I say, I’ve heard you and your message. You have a good heart and good intentions. But, you are stuck in a political situation wherein you represent an organization with a 500 hour base requirement. That’s a fine requirement for membership in the organization. But, that organization has entered the political field nationally in efforts to enact their standard as state standards. It is a standard which is not supported with data concerning the number of training hours and competency. If you proposed a one tier system wherein all currently municipally licensed massage therapists are grandfathered in with no further requirements, I’d support the legislation. In reality, it would not be too terribly long before the grandfathered class disappears with attrition. I don’t expect you to support a tier less than 500 hours because your membership is not in that category. I don’t suppose you would support a 1,000 hour requirement, would you?

These battles are contentious, and there is a need for public debate in order that the positions of all sides see the light of day. There is no other way for the public to become educated. It is how special interest is kept at bay for the good of all. I thank all who enter the debate. Until the proposed legislation treats all of the state’s massage therapists well, I remain a voice for the unrepresented.

Update: 12/30/05

Explanation for quote redaction:
I originally posted here the quote from Angel because I thought it important that the readers hear her point of view. I subsequently redacted the quote because she did not intend to have me post it, and she did not feel that her e-mail was the best of her writing. As a policy, I do not support changing original text after it has been posted, except for minor grammatical errors. Though she did not ask me to redact the quote, I did so in the interest that she be given an opportunity to fairly and fully present her case.

I have not changed a single one of my words in the original blog. Therefore, the above text might be a little confusing without the quote to reference. The new text by Angel is posted at: Angel Responds.