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.