By Johnny Henderson, Director of Education
Hello APTA Community …
In August, I attended a monthly Federation meeting, AKA, Joint Government Regulation Committee (JGRC). A primary purpose of this organization of healing arts professionals, is to determine which states via legislative measures have an agenda to block and eliminate our professional freedom and right to practice autonomously. To find out more about what this special organization does for us, go to http://www.federationmbs.org/
At the meeting, we discussed several states proposing legislation that will challenge our current freedom to practice our professions, including Polarity Therapy. These states are listed at the bottom of this article.
Some State Massage Boards are pushing legislators to pass restricting legislation that requires a State Massage License before APTA/ BCPP members can work independently.
Once a state’s plan of action becomes evident, the JGRC mobilizes into action. There are meetings with legislative staff via phone and one-on-one personal meetings. Federation committees meet as often as weekly, even daily, over and above our scheduled monthly meetings. Letters are written to legislators and their committees and then mailed. These letters are written and rewritten. Phone meetings continue right up to the time the bill goes to the House and Senate of that state as a call to vote is requested.
During the past couple of years, Massachusetts is one the states the Federation has had to put extra focus and energy into. After a couple of attempts to eliminate “non-massage” exemption status of professions, like Polarity Therapy, the bills have failed due to the joint intervention of APTA’s legislative committee and all the other Federation organizations contacting state Representatives and Senators, and their committees, calling “FOUL!”
Legislators in Massachusetts this year returned with a variation of the previous bill. The topic of their most recent bill seemed to be addressing “Human Trafficking”. The Massachusetts Attorney General (AG) has been under pressure from constituents to address “Human Trafficking” against our society.
Well, God love the Massachusetts’s State Massage Board, they jumped in to assist the AG and the staff and presented from their anguished hearts additional language for fighting human trafficking in the State of Massachusetts. You are going to love the next part: it appears that they were hoping to influence the proposed legislative bill to establish something very unique. A “Bodywork Therapy” organization. This new organization would require that all professions register with this organization and upon scrutinized membership application (by special Board requirements), you would receive a state license with a yearly fee. Of course, your CEUs would only be accepted each year if you attended a Board approved massage workshop. CEUs from your field of training would not be accepted. In other words, Polarity Practitioners who are APTA members would lose the exemption status that was secured in previous years. Also, your choice of CEU workshops would be limited.
In addition, the required state license would “oversee” and protect the state of Massachusetts from human trafficking and sex trade. I have never read, heard or seen an arrest or accusation of a Polarity Therapist being accused of human trafficking, nor involved in the sex trade. Should the Bill pass, the major benefactor would be the Massage Board in Massachusetts and their national organization.
Granted the state would receive revenue to help fight human trafficking and the sex trade with your membership and renewal fees. But revenue stream from your continuing education requirements would be going to the approved massage schools. Intention was that the Bodywork Therapist board would be governing your training and your profession. To think that a Bodywork Therapy Board could govern all energy and non-massage professions better than their own associations is something we should not support. I am sharing this information about Massachusetts to stress that this same attempt of controlling non-massage professions is ramping up and rapidly racing to all the other states, as each State Massage Board is making plans to secure the governing of all other professions.
So far, in Massachusetts the State Bill S.2599 failed to pass. (Hurray!!) So, as of today, Polarity’s exemption is safe in Massachusetts. (Only ½ a Hurray for now.)
The plan to interfere with of our profession is not dead. We need to remain alert and proactive regarding legislative bills and our freedom to work in each State. The massage industry is already re-writing language and re-organizing ways to have failed bills re-addressed for presentation to state legislators during the next year’s gathering. This means the Federation will continue to protect your rights.
Massage therapy is beneficial to many people. But massage cannot be classified in the same category as Polarity Therapy. When you read about law enforcement raiding an establishment and arresting its owner(s) and employees for “sex trade” or “human trafficking”, which profession is most likely named as the perpetrator? Polarity Therapy? Feldenkrais? Rolfing? Trager? Structural Integration? Absolutely NOT! Massage? Absolutely YES!
So, contact your state legislator and ask them why they wish to lump Polarity Therapy, an Energy Therapy profession in the same category as massage? Members of APTA and residents of your state need to step up and make your voice and presence known to your state and local legislators. Believe me they will listen, but you must tell them over and over that you are not massage, you are Polarity Therapy and that you have trained and studied very hard to obtain a Board Certification through a Board Approved training program, and are a member of a national governing organization (APTA) that oversees your required continuing education and assures that you meet STANDARDS of Practice and Ethics for Practitioners.
These are the states we discussed at our recent monthly meeting. If you live in one of these states, I urge you to contact your state legislators to find out about possible incoming laws and regulations regarding your ability to work independently in your state, without undue influence or interference from organizations that are trying to degrade your professional credentials and desire to fill their coffers with your membership with their license requirements.
MA: Remember members, HB S.2599 failed. It was promoting legislation to fight Human Trafficking by requiring that you attain a Bodywork license that would eliminate your exemption status as a Polarity Practitioner with a proposed governing Board composed of a majority of massage therapy directors with one human trafficking agent director and one non-massage director member. This organization has received a major donation in their fight against Human Trafficking & Sex Trade from the National Massage Board. With this kind of donation, the Bodywork License Board might get another vote for the massage team on that Licensure board.
TX: A draft legislation that will limit your freedom to work is again at play. Please contact your representatives. Find out what is happening and how this legislation might affect you. Please keep me informed. Contact your legislator for a copy of “A Message from the Texas AMTA board”. You will find out what the massage board’s plan is for Texas.
NC: The NC massage board and their legislative supporters are looking to require a state exam (via the massage industry) that you might be required to take. We must be proactive to amend legislation and bills that negate the legitimacy of our own APTA governing agency, our APTA BCPP exam must qualify as an “APPROVED” exam to qualify and protect you and your rights to work as a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner in NC. Please keep me informed. Contact your NC state legislators.
CA: Still having rumblings regarding local legislation requirements in your state. We need to know how Polarity Therapy is being affected by incoming bills at the state and local levels. Please keep me informed.
FL: Florida was also discussed at this month’s meeting. FL only recognizes the massage industry as a legitimate profession among the healing arts professions. Some of us on the JGRC are discussing how we can influence the state to accept other professions and our certification exams to qualify as a legal profession.
If your State was not discussed this month, it does not necessarily mean that nothing legislatively is happening. We need each of you to be proactive and find out what is happening in your state regarding legislation and bills that might only be in draft form that could influence your ability to freely offer your service as a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner.
The Legislative Committee needs a representative from each State. Please consider joining me on this committee. One person can oversee what is happening in each state regarding legislative actions pertaining to Polarity Therapy.
Johnny Henderson, Ph.D., BCPP, RPE, CWC
Director of Legislation