It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends a tiny ripple of hope; and, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. - Robert Kennedy
Why is licensure promoted?
According to Jerry A. Green, Attorney at Law and Advisor to the California Coalition on Somatic Practices, "Legislators are currently disinclined toward licensing of new professions [because they] have learned that the old arguments about protecting the public more than likely really mean 'secure me a vested interest.' ... The desire for 'money, status and power' are other reasons why state licensure is promoted... It seems that proponents of licensing are hopeful that a state license would mean more money, status, and power."1
According to Dr. David Reed, President of the California Massage Therapy Association (CMTA),1 "The California Chapter of the AMTA is the major driving force for massage in California."2 "Dave puts his first priority as putting more money into CMTA members' pockets and suggests continuing education in the realm of business and marketing classes as well as computer classes to help members become computer literate as a means to that end."2
According to Don Schwartz, Ph.D., Administrative Director at the Trager Institute, "Licensure creates state-sanctioned monopolies with the explicit goal of 'protecting the public, but with the real effect of protecting those who hold the monopolies' respective entitlements, reducing information to the public, and restricting competition,"3
The Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition (PALC)
promotes state licensure to protect the
public from harm
PALC has defined its objective and rationale as follows:
1 "Licensure is first and foremost to protect the public from harm."4
2 "State licensing will ... create educational requirements for that public protection."4
3. "We are working to create a bill which protects the public from harm."5
These statements are in two PALC documents. One is a report in the form of a July 25, 1995, letter4 signed and distributed by Dinnie Pearson, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition (PALC). We shall henceforth refer to this letter as the PALC report. The other document is what the PALC letter refers to as a brochure.5
The brochure lists three officers: Bill Harvey (Rolf) PALC Chairperson, Dinnie Pearson (Upledger and ABMP) PALC Secretary, and Barbara Mikos, (APTA and AMTA-PA Chapter) Treasurer.
Why doesn't PALC reveal what
harm it is concerned about?
1. The PALC report states "All of us statewide need to be informed about licensure activities whether we are for or against licensure."4
2. Albert Schatz wrote each of the three PALC officers several letters requesting information about what evidence PALC which indicates that the public has been harmed by bodyworkers.
3. He received no reply.
4. "How can 'all of us statewide ... be informed" about [PALC's] licensure activities if PALC does not provide information that is requested about its 'licensure activities'"?
5. Why doesn't PALC tell us what harm it is concerned about?
What is PALC?
The brochure tells us that PALC consists of the following organizations: "Zero Balancing®, International Association of Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapists, National Association of Trigger Point Myotherapists, Body Synergy Institute, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, American Massage Therapy Association (Pennsylvania Chapter), Trager Institute, American Polarity Therapy Association, Hellerwork®, American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association, Upledger Institute, Rolf Institute, St. John Neuromusculature Therapy, Pennsylvania Reflexology Association, The Feldenkrais Guild®, Rubenfeld Synergy.®
California vis-a-vis Pennsylvania
In 1995, the California Coalition on Somatic Practices distributed to members of the California bodywork community and others a 39-page report Survey - Your Choice to Determine Your Future. 6 This brochure provided 33 (81/2 x 11) pages of detailed information about important issues involved in state regulation, and a 6-page questionnaire. This questionnaire was the Coalition's survey of the California members of the somatic practices community. The 33-page document is a comprehensive report of what the Coalition had seriously considered since 1991. The Coalition's 81/2 x 11 page 1996 Special Report consists of a title page and five pages of detailed explanation of why the Coalition decided to reject state licensure, based on the survey and other considerations.7
It is interesting to compare PALC's one-page letter4 and one-page brochure5 with the 39-page and 6-page reports of the California Coalition. The PALC letter has writing only on one side. The PALC brochure is an undated, single 81/2 x 11 inch sheet of paper with three columns on each side giving a total of six columns. One column has the title PALC, Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition. Another column is completely blank. Only four columns present information. The letter and brochure were distributed after PALC had worked for two years.
PALC's report and brochure do not present any evidence which supports PALC's undocumented allegation that people are harmed by massage and other bodyworkers, and that the public needs to be protected from that harm. Nor do they provide any evidence that the bill PALC drafted, supposedly to protect the public, will indeed provide that protection. (Simply saying that educational requirements will do so is not acceptable.) Nor has PALC distributed copies of the bill, which it drafted and submitted to a lobbyist, to members of the Pennsylvania bodywork community. Contrast PALC's procedure in this respect with the California Coalition's widespread distribution of its two reports to the California bodywork community.
This openness reflects the California Coalition's democratic modus operandi. The Coalition "was founded on the principles of genuine community. Its organizer Betty Shultz May was inspired and influenced by the Foundation for Community Encouragement, which was founded by Scott Peck, M.D. (author of The Road Less Travelled and The Different Drum)."6 The California Coalition is an outstanding example of how organizations can work together to do research, discuss and evaluate issues, arrive at conclusions, and make comprehensive and detailed reports readily available to members of the bodywork community.
The California Coalition is therefore a model for how committees, representing bodyworkers, should consider the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of state regulation versus private, non-governmental, self-regulation. We respectfully suggest that PALC consider adopting the modus operandi of the California Coalition.
Contrary to what PALC alleges,
"Licensure is" NOT "a fact of life."
According to the PALC report,4 "Licensure is a fact of life in nineteen states." However, not all 19 states have licensure which is required by practice acts. Some have title protection which is very different.6 Therefore, contrary to what the letter alleges, "Licensure is" not "a fact of life" in all 19 states which regulate massage. PALC does not differentiate between practice acts and title protection acts.
PALC's also does not differentiate between self regulation and state regulation. The brochure reports that PALC is promoting self regulation. The PALC report informs us that PALC is promoting state licensing which is state regulation. The two are clearly differentiated in the California Coalition's 1995 and 1996 reports. Moreover, "The trend in California is clearly toward private regulation" as opposed to state licensing.7
Two excellent articles on state title registration and practice acts were published by Raymond L. Beck in Massage.8,9 Beck is a reflexologist, a massage therapist registered in Florida, and an attorney who "served as an administrative prosecutor for the state of Illinois Department of Professional Registration for three and a half years."8 His personal experience as a massage therapist and a reflexologist and his legal work in Illinois, reveal his unique qualifications to write about state massage laws.
Beck's two reports should be read by state legislators concerned with regulation of massage, and others who are interested in this subject. We do not know of any other publications on this subject written by anyone as professionally qualified as Beck. He also analyzes the Florida law and reports on litigation involving that law, which he describes as a hybrid because it is a practice act for one purpose and title protection for another.9
Additional evidence that "licensing is" not "a fact of life.." is provided by the California Coalition's rejection of state regulation. Licensing is not is "a fact of life" as typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods are. The ten commandments have not been amended to include "Thou shalt have state licensing of thy bodywork." State regulation is therefore not inevitable. It is man-made. It happens because special interest groups make it happen.
Finally, the literature of the California Coalition of Somatic Practices states: "California is being watched and will be an example for licensing for the rest of the country."10 What the Coalition decided is that self-regulation is appropriate, but that licensure is not.6 All this evidence proves that the claim - "Licensure is a fact of life." - has no basis in fact.
Memo to PALC: Where's the harm?
If there is no harm or only negligible harm, state regulation is not needed to protect the public. If there is harm, state legislators have to know how many people are injured and how serious the injuries are in order to decide whether state regulation is needed to protect the public. Those who claim state laws are needed to protect the public, as PALC does, have an obligation to provide that information. If they don't, nobody knows what harm they are talking about. And nobody should accept PALC's claim of harm "on faith."
In 1993, Schatz and his colleagues published their first two research reports which, among other things, questioned the undocumented allegation of harm11,12 Since then, no research has provided satisfactory evidence that there is sufficient harm and that the harm is sufficiently serious to require state regulation of massage to protect the public.
There is no evidence that more people are injured, proportionally, in states which do not regulate massage than in states which do. Our latest publication summarized the overwhelming evidence that there is no need to protect the public from harm because the likelihood of such injury is negligible. Furthermore there is no evidence that state regulation of massage could protect the public from harm if that protection were needed.13
What makes us tick
We feel an obligation to do what THE RUB is attempting to achieve. THE RUB hopes to provide enough information so the decision [about state regulation] is based on knowledge, and give that information to enough people so a decision is [made] by consensus as opposed to the desires of a few.10
Where we stand on
state regulation of massage
There is no need to protect people from harm by massage therapists. There is a need to protect massage therapists from state massage laws that allegedly protect the public from harm because there is no such need.
We are not unequivocally opposed to all kinds of regulation of massage. We are opposed to practice acts because the low risk of harm does not justify that kind of regulation.13 We don't understand why massage therapists, who do no harm, should have to pay tribute to the state for the privilege of earning money by helping people in a way that is not injurious. We are opposed to all state regulation that is based on an alleged need to protect the public from harm unless that regulation meets the requirements of the California Sunset Process.7 We favor private, non-governmental, self-regulation.
We also favor title protection acts because they protect massage therapists, who want that protection, form turf battles and border wars13 - provided that:
1. Such acts are voluntary. This means that those who want state certification can get it, but others who don't want it may do massage without it. The public need have no problem is distinguishing between those who are state-certified and those who are not. Only the former would be permitted to use the title state-certified massage therapists. The latter could call themselves massage therapists or use some other title that does not imply they are state-certified. We believe this is how democracy should work.
2. Even individuals who are self-taught are permitted to do massage, which they are presently permitted to do in states which do not regulate massage. This is justified because there is so little risk of harm.14 Steve Eabry has pointed out that some who do massage, with no specialized training, are very helpful to people.15 All people should have the right to earn money by contributing to the health and well being of others in a way that is honest and causes no harm.
Our letter of inquiry
We are sending a copy of this issue of the Journal of Spiritual Bodywork to the three officers of PALC. We shall publish whatever replies we receive if the respondents give us written permission to do so.
To: Bill Harvey, Chairperson, PALC
Dinnie Pearson, Secretary, PALC
Barbara Mikos, Treasurer, PALC
From: Albert Schatz and Mary Brewster.
Editor and Associate Editor
A report in the form of a letter dated July 25, 1995, signed and distributed by Dinnie Pearson, PALC secretary, states, "All of us statewide need to be informed about licensure activities whether we are for or against licensure."4
We are therefore requesting information about PALC's position on harm which PALC has defined as follows:
1. "Licensure is first and foremost to protect the public from harm."
2. "State licensing will ... create educational requirements for that public protection."
3. "We are working to create a bill which protects the public from harm."
We would appreciate your providing us with the following information for Pennsylvania. This information, which we are requesting from PALC, is the information that the California legislature's Sunrise Process requires to justify any bill submitted for regulating bodywork.7 Specifically, what evidence does PALC have that:
1. The unlicensed profession is a serious danger to the public health and safety
2. State licensing will adequately protect the public health and safety.
3. No other means can also protect the public health and safety.
If PALC is unable to provide convincing evidence that the public needs to be protected from harm, what justification does PALC have for promoting state licensing to protect the public from harm?
If you think any comments in this report about PALC are inaccurate, please let us know in writing what these comments are and explain why you feel they are inaccurate. Finally, please give us your written permission to publish your reply in the Journal of Spiritual Bodywork.
1. Green, J.A. Money, status & power: by licensure or affiliation. The Rub 1(1):4, June 1996. (The Rub is a newsletter by and for those giving or receiving the benefits of massage or other somatic practices. It is published by Rob Mullog Enterprises. P.O. Box 459. Berkeley, CA 94701.)
2. CMTA elects new officers. The Rub. 1(1):5. June 1996.
3. Schwartz, D. Guest Editorial. The tragedy of skilled touch and movement in the United States. Massage. Issue 64. pp. 8-9. November/December 1996.
4. Pearson, D. Letter Report dated July 25,1995, and signed by Dinnie Pearson, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition (PALC). This letter reports what PALC has been doing and refers to an information brochure that PALC is preparing.
5. PALC Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition. The undated PALC brochure which is undated and consists of a single 81/2 x 11 sheet of paper.
6. Your chance to determine your future. California Coalition on Somatic Practices. 1995 Survey. (California Coalition on Somatic Practices. P.O. Box 5611. San Mateo. CA. 94402-0611.
7. Special Report. California Coalition on Somatic Practices. September, 1996.
8. Beck. R.L. What's in a name? Title registration vs. practice act. Massage. Issue 57. pp. 94-98. Sept/Oct 1995.
9. Beck, R.L. An interpretation of Florida's massage law. Title registration vs practice act. Massage. Issue 55. pp. 116-117. May/June 1995.
10. From the desk of the editor. Cover Letter for The Rub. 1(1): page 2, column 1. June 1996.
11. Carlson, K., Barbara, R.A., and Schatz, A. Is state regulation of massage illegal? Massage & Bodywork Quarterly. pages 42-52. Fall 1993
12. Carlson, K., Barbara, R.A., and Schatz, A. The public doesn't need state regulation of massage. So who does want it and why? Massage & Bodywork Quarterly. pages 83-86. Fall 1993.
13. Schatz, A., Tillotson. A., and Brewster, M. Since massage does not cause harm, why license massage therapists to prevent harm? Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter 2(2):1-5, 1996.
14. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M. An appropriate examination for massage competency. Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 2(2):7-8. 1996.
15. Eabry, S. Guest Editorial. Kindling a tradition of touch. Massage. Issue 63. p. 8. Sept/Oct 1996.