By: David Comings, Director of Legislation
This month I would like to share with everyone the APTA Board’s position on and approach to Licensing. APTA’s Director of Legislation routinely attends the annual Federation meeting. This year the Federation requested that each member organization provide its position on licensing. The statement below is APTA’s position on licensing, as approved by APTA’s Board of Directors:
APTA does not oppose State-level licensing or regulation of Polarity Practitioners that serves to codify and strengthen Polarity Practitioners’ right to practice in that State. However, APTA is strongly opposed to regulation or licensing at the local, city, or county level. APTA is also strongly opposed to Polarity Therapy being governed, overseen, managed by, or in any way associated with the practice of Massage Therapy.
The discipline of Polarity Therapy involves the use of touch as an incidental part of our practice. Our principal focus is on working with the underlying flow of energy through the body, not soft tissue manipulation. As such, Polarity Therapy is an energy-based practice – distinct in our philosophy, methods and process from Massage Therapy. This difference in philosophy, methods and practice differentiates Polarity Therapy from Massage Therapy to such an extent that Massage Therapy Boards and organizations do not have the appropriate expertise to govern, oversee, or manage the practice of Polarity Therapy.
Many of the States working on legislation to license “bodywork” – a broad and amorphous term intended to capture anything involving touch that is not massage – are seeking to do so with a single licensing board that is responsible for massage and bodywork.
While it is obvious to some of us that this is not a proper way to structure a licensing system, that is because we understand the different disciplines involved, the nature of the work, and a variety of other factors of which most legislators are completely unaware. Generally that is alright, because when they are crafting legislation, legislators rely on “experts” in the field. However, in this case the primary “experts” are in the massage industry.
While portions of the massage industry are hostile to Polarity Therapy, our partner in the Federation, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), does work hard and is very good about including the exemption language developed by the Federation in any legislation they propose, and continuing to work with Federation members in support of our interests during the legislative process.
The rest of the massage industry seeks to subsume Polarity Therapy and other modalities into massage. There are a multitude of problems with that approach, to include their lack of differentiation between “bodywork” and energy therapies. Another major factor is that many physicians and other medical personnel are learning and practicing energy therapy modalities – ours was created by a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine! Medical personnel, and particularly medical doctors (MDs) view massage as an inferior system to medicine – so why would they submit to their practices being overseen by a massage board?
APTA’s approach is to pursue exemptions to massage laws whenever possible. This work is largely done through the Federation. However, when exemptions are not possible, APTA is working with the Alliance and its National Certification Center of Energy Professionals (NCCOEP) to pursue licensing as energy therapists, not “bodyworkers.” Our bottom-line goal is to ensure the right to practice for all of our Practitioners, regardless of the state in which they live.