By David Comings, Director of Legislation
There have been several questions about the National Alliance of Energy Practitioners (NAOEP), commonly referred to as the Alliance, APTA’s interaction with the Alliance, and Dr. Melinda Connor, who has had a key role in establishing the Alliance. This column is intended to answer some of these questions and address some of the reasons for the Alliance and APTA’s decision to become part of it.
The Alliance is an alliance of associations and training programs and is organized as a 501(c)(3). As such, it does not have individual members, only organizational members. APTA is a member of the Alliance.
The Alliance has an associated Trade Board, the National Certification Center of Energy Practitioners (NCCOEP) that is organized as a 501(c)(6). The Certification Center is the organization that awards individual certifications in one or more of the Divisions. Polarity Therapy fits in the Full Spectrum Division.
I am a Board Member of the Alliance’s Certification Center. Yes, I have an interest in its success. I am also a Board Member of APTA and have a responsibility to guide and direct APTA in a way that I truly believe is best for APTA – regardless of my personal preferences.
APTA is also a member of The Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations (the Federation). I serve as APTA’s representative to the Federation.
Dr. Melinda Connor has been involved in the establishment of the Alliance since its earliest days. Dr. Connor is working to help establish the Alliance to prevent the Federal Government from stepping-in and regulating energy healing. She has a genuine desire to put all of this in place and is doing a tremendous amount of work to make it happen.
My personal concern, based on the information and evidence available to me, is that some form of licensing is coming – whether we like it or not. Licensing generates revenue for the states, allows the lawmakers to say they are “doing something” about “human trafficking” and also satisfies legislator’s desire for some form of confirmation that what we claim we are doing, we are really doing.
There are many states in which we currently have no right to practice. New York, Rhode Island, Florida, and Texas are four of them. To practice Polarity Therapy in those states, a Polarity Therapist must be licensed in massage, or another health-related discipline (generally medicine (MD or nurse), chiropractor, physical therapist, or acupuncturist).
Even when licensed in one of those disciplines, the Polarity practitioner must ensure that performing Polarity Therapy on a client is within his/her scope of practice under their licensed discipline.
Currently, many Polarity Therapists go through the time and expense of obtaining a massage license, just to be able to practice Polarity Therapy. That is one option available to us – become licensed massage therapists (LMT) and we can practice Polarity without being members of the Alliance. The time and expense of becoming an LMT is far greater than that to work with the Alliance.
We could try to go it alone and establish Polarity Therapy licensing boards in each state – although we are far too small of an organization for any state to pay attention to us.
Even our long-time partners in the Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations (The Federation), who have long sought and continue to pursue exemptions from state massage laws, has begun to discuss licensing as a way to maintain our right to practice.
This is a massive shift for the Federation. However, this discussion is in its infancy and they are working to identify the best way forward. One possibility could be licensing as part of massage legislation and being subordinate to a state Massage Board. APTA rejects that approach. Polarity Therapy is not massage, and we are not willing to have our practices subordinated to a state Massage Board.
Even pursuing the passage of Health Freedom laws in the states is not working particularly well. Efforts at that have been underway since the 1970s and a total of 11 states have such laws. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports that “46 states and the District of Columbia regulate massage therapists or provide voluntary state certification.” They have been working to establish licensing in the states for about the same length of time, and have been far more successful than the Health Freedom advocates.
Minnesota, which has been a Health Freedom state since 1999 is working to establish a Massage Therapy Licensing law. The Federation is actively working to ensure exemptions are in place for non-massage member organizations’ therapeutic approaches – which includes Polarity Therapy.
Massage and other lobbying groups (particularly the anti-human trafficking lobby) are working very hard to either require us to become LMTs or to restrict our activities altogether. The anti-human trafficking lobby is a threat to legitimate massage and reflexology practices since establishments advertising “massage” and “acupuncture” are frequently used as fronts for prostitution, which they define as “human trafficking” and are targeting.
There may be a better option than the Alliance out there – I won’t claim there is not. I will state that if there is a better option than working with the Alliance, I am not aware of it. From what I know and am aware of, the Alliance appears to be our best hope of maintaining or establishing our right to practice Polarity Therapy.
Your Board of Directors and Legislative Committee continue to do our best to ensure the right to practice for Polarity Practitioners in every state. Remain vigilant and help us to help you in your continued success as a Polarity Practitioner.