Thursday, May 13, 2010

A beginning, not an end

Its a tremendously exciting time! This Saturday (May 15, 2010) we will be announcing the release of the inaugural Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) at the "Highlighting Massage Therapy in CIM" conference in Seattle, WA. Its been over a year since I started on the project, and the MTBOK itself took almost 11 months to build after the MTBOK task force began their work.

The task force has done an extraordinary job on this effort, and has spent many, many hours researching, writing, evaluating your comments and achieving consensus on the inaugural MTBOK content.

While there is such a tendency to focus on the end of a project, this whole effort is about beginning a future for massage therapy. That's why I like to call the upcoming release the inaugural MTBOK.

So with the release this Saturday we will be celebrating a beginning far more than the successful project conclusion. Our mission was to put together an MTBOK built by and for the profession. Since eight people can only do so much, we went to lengths to get as much input from all of the stakeholders. We did a quick draft, then opened it up for public comment. We held an open Stakeholder Input Session at the AMTA national convention in Orlando last September which was mostly an interactive dialog in groups. We then did another round of public comments, and we met with several groups including the major schools organizations (we meet with the third one in June) and the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

We received over 1,400 formal comments from our stakeholders, and all but about 30 of those were read, reviewed, discussed and in someway became part of the new MTBOK.

All this was to say that I think we did a great job of representing the profession and listening and reacting appropriately to comments and suggestions.

But here is where the important part comes. What happens next is up to you. The MTBOK is a living document, and you should think of it that way. If things need to be tweaked or changed, let people know about it. (The new approach to receiving comments is to ask that you submit them via email to The MTBOK Steward organizations plan to periodically review and update the MTBOK in response to your needs and comments. Its really a mistake to think of the MTBOK as a finished, static product... it really needs to grow with the knowledge of the profession, and to help the whole profession move in a similar direction.

It seems to me that there are two things that need to happen with the MTBOK now in addition to its growth as a living document. First, it needs to stay in the minds of our stakeholders so that any adjustments in its current form can be made. Second, it needs to be adopted and ingrained into the work of each of the massage therapy domains (Practice, Accreditation, Research, Certification, Education and Licensure) so that the profession as a whole is moving in pretty much the same direction.

For those of you who think it needs work... great! That's the nature of a living document, and while you may not get all the changes you want, that' part of building consensus in such a big, wonderful, complex profession.

Thanks to all of you who have participated in this effort. I really think its a great step forward for massage therapy.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Just released - the MTBOK 2nd Draft for review and comment

We have just released the 2nd draft of the MTBOK as scheduled, and its available to download at along with a brief press release.

I hope you will go to the site, download the document, read it and provide us with your comments (a link to our online comment form is on the site and on the first page of the MTBOK document).

We will hold a formal comment period open until March 8, 2010. In my opinion this is the most important part of the project because the profession has a chance to give us your guidance on where you think we need correction, and I hope to let us know where we have got it right.

We do listen - every one of the 600 or so comments we received on the first draft was read and taken into account as the 2nd draft was produced. I think the MTBOK has gotten much better as a result of your participation, and I hope we can continue to receive your suggestions.

We will be producing a final MTBOK for delivery in early May, and with your help it can become rooted in our profession and a living document that changes with the growth of our profession.

Its an exciting time!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MTBOK 2nd Draft to be published Friday, January 29, 2010

We are just around the corner from starting the e-presses and pushing out the 2nd draft of the MTBOK, and its a busy week! On friday the new draft will go up on the MTBOK website ( as an Adobe Acrobat file available for download. We are putting up a new link to a comment form so that we can get your suggestions, updates and recommendations.

As before, the comment form has a couple of questions about who your are or represent then asks for the Section number and line number that your comment is about. Provide as many separate comments as you need - we have tried to make the form fairly short and sweet so that you can enter something quickly and easily and we can better manage our review and change process.

The formal comment period is only going to be open for a month, so we do ask you to get any comments in quickly. We wont shut off the comment process (both because if we have time we will continue to process new comments and because even after the time period ends we want to be able to pass comments on to those who will continue to monitor and update the MTBOK).

The MTBOK is more streamlined, and is I think substantially better as a result of the approximately 600 comments we received on the 1st draft. Although we cant individually respond to the comments we receive, everyone was read by the task force, and in some way impacted the document and our discussions.

I hope you like the work that has been done so far, and I look forward to your comments on the document. The final version will be presented in early May, so we wont have much of a break over the next few months.

Thanks for your participation and support.