by David R. Comings, PhD, BCPP
APTA was represented at the recent annual meeting of the Federation, an organization, established to work for and promote legal recognition of energy-work and structural or integrative disciplines that are distinct and independent of massage. APTA’s work through the Federation promotes the recognition and acceptance of modalities other than massage within the marketplace of energy and physical disciplines and our right to practice.
Many practitioners recognize the push by parts of the massage industry to subsume all alternative therapies involving touch, and even some that do not involve touch, into the realm and regulatory system of massage. In many states it is necessary to obtain a massage license in order to be able to practice Polarity Therapy – even though our work is separate and distinct from massage. These efforts by some in the massage industry have been successful in a number of states, thereby making it more difficult for Polarity practitioners to practice legally.
The Federation was formed by several organizations, like APTA, representing their respective disciplines and all working toward the common goal of legal recognition and a right to practice. Recognition in this case often means the recognition that we are not massage, that we are separate and distinct modalities that bring significant benefits to the health and well-being marketplace.
The Federation is a standards-based organization, where membership is based on specific, measurable factors in member organization’s practitioner programs. Any organization without sufficient rigor in its qualifications to practice is ineligible for membership.
The discussions within the Federation included consideration of states where we are making progress, strategizing how and where we can move forward, and how best to work together as a group to achieve gains that we would be unlikely to achieve individually.
The Federation also provides an ongoing forum for knowledge sharing, allowing member organizations to learn from each other in order to create, update, and maintain our standards, policies, practices, and programs.
We are making progress in ensuring our right to practice. Our work with, support by, and support of organizations like the Federation are just another way APTA is working on your behalf to promote the success of our Polarity practitioners and Polarity Therapy as a unique, successful, and rewarding discipline.
The current legal/legislative environment is rather tumultuous. There four remaining states that do not require massage licenses, KA, MN, VT, and WY. Some states that license massage therapists have begun allowing practitioners of other disciplines to practice. Often the term “bodywork” has been used for non-massage practices. However, the term “bodywork” has been adopted by some to skirt licensing requirements for massage therapy and also by the prostitution industry. The whole idea of a practitioner actually touching a patient is becoming somewhat controversial, as evidenced by some of the efforts reportedly underway in PA. In addition, the conflation of prostitution with “human trafficking” is also serving to muddy the legislative waters.
None the less, there is progress in some areas and some states. Reportedly the Attorneys General in Washington State and Pennsylvania have pushed-back against strict licensing requirements for massage. However, there are also some reported efforts at municipalities creating their own licensing requirements in Georgia and California. There is still plenty to be done to secure our right to practice.