Last Thursday, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) did what many Americans will do this summer – they started out on a road trip. As part of new, ongoing efforts to educate the public on the health and wellness benefits of massage (and to promote the professionalism of their members), the AMTA has taken a multi-faceted approach, working to increase public awareness through media campaigns and a social media presence, and now through its “Consumer Experience Tour,” a mobile exhibit that left the Chicago area last week and will move east, through Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states, before ending in North Carolina for the AMTA 2012 National Convention in early October.
The AMTA Massage Therapy Tour – expected to go nationwide in subsequent years – is scheduled to coincide with sporting and cultural events that draw diverse crowds, from Columbus, Ohio’s Jazz and Rib Fest to Manhattan’s Third Avenue Merchandise Fair. According to Association President Cynthia Ribeiro, the hope is that, by reaching millions of people at such events, the message of the AMTA can begin “shifting the thinking of the public to recognize the value of massage for their health.” At each stop, AMTA-member therapists are encouraged to volunteer by giving demonstration massages that offer people a taste of skilled touch. And, the AMTA will engage local media along the way, proactively seeking interviews and snagging air time on newscasts to further advocate for the profession.
While only early tour dates are confirmed and posted (see the schedule here), people are encouraged to follow the progress of the AMTA van by keeping tabs via social media, on the AMTA Facebook Page or on their Twitter feed. You can even watch the tour online in video clips from events!
This endeavor by the AMTA, and many being undertaken by other organizations and associations that support the massage and bodywork professions, are the result of increasingly synchronized efforts among these groups, which extend from two Leadership Summits held in the last 10 months. Representatives from the AMTA were joined at these summits by those from Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF), the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE), and the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). These joint efforts are meant to clarify the roles of each of these groups and explore how best to collaborate in supporting advancement of the profession.
Changes to testing, credentialing, and educational standards are likely to emerge as these groups work toward a more cohesive mandate; hopefully, what has been seen by many therapists for years as unnecessary competition among these organizations will fade as they unite in attempts to move massage therapy toward greater portability, consistency, and visibility. On this last front, it seems the AMTA Massage Therapy Tour van is a great way to start!