The Evolution of Board Certification: Setting the Record Straight

Each New Year brings the opportunity for new beginnings. For NCBTMB and our profession alike, 2015 also brings with it many changes—namely, our exit from licensure. With this major change in our rearview mirror, this New Year brings with it a renewed focus on NCBTMB’s core programs: Board Certification, our evolving Approved Provider Continuing Education Program, Assigned School Program, as well as finding new ways to support our growing number of National and Board Certificants. We truly believe this will be our best year yet—and we look forward to having you along for the journey.

For some of you, 2015 may be the year you decide to become Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB). For others, this may be the year you decide to transition your National Certification to Board Certification. Regardless of your path, we believe that as your partner in this journey toward excellence it’s important you have all the facts. That’s why I find it imperative to reiterate the importance of Board Certification and what it stands for. I also want to set the record straight for those who may believe the misconceptions and misinformation that has been brought to our attention of late.

Every Therapist’s Journey is Unique

Even before my role as Chair, I have had the blessing of connecting with so many of you to learn about your unique journey toward certification. Board Certification truly means something different to each of you—which I find incredibly inspiring. Board Certification empowers all massage therapists, regardless of different modalities and aspirations, to be among the elite in our profession. When you become Board Certified, you join a growing community of massage therapy and bodywork leaders paving the path for excellence in our chosen profession.

The Importance of Board Certification

Board Certification is important to our profession for many reasons. Perhaps one of the most important is that we now model other healthcare professions—giving recognition, validity, and empowerment to the massage therapy and bodywork profession. With Board Certification, we share a common language within a well-recognized paradigm of professional development and career path achievement and thereby align with other healthcare professions.

The BCTMB (Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork) credential additionally serves as a means to educate the stakeholders within our industry, as well as allied health and medical professions, in our ongoing pursuit to define, advance, and elevate the standards of our esteemed profession. Becoming Board Certified is proof to your peers, the public, and our stakeholders that you have gone beyond entry-level and are living up to higher standards—and have the credentials to prove it (BCTMB).

Answering Our Critics

As we continue on a path more travelled with Board Certification, just like many of you, I find it vital to address some of the misconceptions and misinformation brought to my attention recently. As is true for many of you, 2014 provided a rather large learning curve both for our organization and the profession at large. We made many knowledge-based decisions after collaborating with so many of you, our peer organizations, Approved Providers, State Boards, and Assigned Schools to ensure the best future for this organization and the profession. Dedication to collaboration will only continue to be a major part of our 2015 efforts.

While we recognize our decision to no longer offer licensure exams affected many states, I wish to reiterate that:

  • NCBTMB has no power or authority to dictate to the states in any way, and
  • NCBTMB has no power to dictate what states choose to write within their laws following this decision.

In fact, these are two completely separate and distinct matters—one, the exit of licensure by NCBTMB, and the second is the autonomy that the states hold in their decision making processes. All of us at NCBTMB have stopped nothing short of living up to both the terms and the spirit of our collaborative agreement with FSMTB since October—and will continue to do so.

While it is true that some state boards have voted to accept the BCETM exam into their requirements, again a decision completely separate from NCBTMB, this does not at all mean that we are lowering our standards or making exceptions to the requirements for Board Certification. Our requirements will remain the same—requirements we believe that truly elevate the profession at large. Above all, NCBTMB is dedicated to maintaining our same proactive and collaborative approach with the states to better meet your needs and the needs of the profession at large. Along this journey, we will continue to review our policies and procedures to ensure we are serving the profession as we strive to live up to our mission.

Know the Facts 

Regardless if you are currently Board Certified or still considering if Board Certification is right for you, I encourage all of us to not give in to the misconceptions or misinformation we may come across without first knowing the facts. This New Year is about making great strides toward building a stronger future for the massage therapy and bodywork profession at large. We vow to continue our upward trend of collaboration, ambassadorship, and outreach to the profession to guide us in knowledge-based decision making. We need you to know that our road to ongoing success requires your help, your input, your support, and your voice.

All it takes is a simple phone call to NCBTMB or a visit to our website,, to put to rest many of the common misconceptions and misinformation we correct almost daily. Many of your questions are shared directly on our website, giving you immediate access to valuable answers. With these simple actions, we work together to build a stronger future for Board Certification and our profession.

Embracing Our Differences

Above all, I want to encourage all of us to strive to support and recognize one another for the respected, significant accomplishments we earn. The BCTMB credential represents great strides for our profession by empowering us to share a common language with other industries. Regardless if you personally choose to become Board Certified or not, let us vow to celebrate this accomplishment. Let us do away with the negative connotations and instead agree to COLLABORATE with discussions that challenge and, ultimately, improve our profession at large. It’s the right thing to do.

There are many exciting things in the pipeline at NCBTMB. We hope you will stand alongside us as we continue to evolve our programs to serve the profession better. I wish you all a very prosperous, healthy, and happy 2015.

This blog was written by:

Board Chair
Leena S. Guptha

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