Approved Providers: From the Early Years to our Envisioned Future

October 31, 2013


I am going to start this with a quote, paraphrasing by Mother Teresa:

"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."

Over the last few days, there has been some talk about NCBTMB losing sight of its mission of defining and advancing the highest standards, of being the pioneering and premier organization in certification and education and a key stakeholder for our profession. It hurt…… especially because it went to the foundation of being the best therapeutic massage and bodywork entity that enabled thousands of today’s professionals to be licensed practitioners and/or continuing education providers for our profession. Perhaps it is a wake-up call…….So as a new chair; I take a step back to see what we came from and what we can be.

Education is any training or class that one takes to learn a competency or a set of skills. Continuing Education is taken to improve one's job skills. Many professions require that members of their profession continue learning new and changing skills to retain their credentials. Licensing bodies in a number of fields require continuing education requirements for members who hold licenses to practice within a particular profession. These requirements are intended to encourage professionals to expand their foundations of knowledge and stay up-to-date on new developments.

NCBTMB was not only a pioneer but a trail blazer in this endeavor.

The Early Years
The mission of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) was/is to define and advance the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork profession. To accomplish this, the National Certification Board (NCB) developed the National Certification credential, which evolved into Board Certification and also implemented continuing education standards through our Approved Provider (AP) program.

To The Present Day
As the profession evolved over the years, so too did the AP program, including a greater range of content that massage therapists utilize in their practices. In the beginning of the approval process, instructors were required to submit qualifications and information on all courses that were submitted. As the number of applications submitted increased dramatically, the time required to approve CE Providers and their courses increased to 6 months from submission through approval.

NCB realized that this approval process prevented instructors from delivering CE hours to participants in a timely manner and refined the AP program using guidelines from The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Although individual professions may have different standards, the most widely accepted standard was developed by ANSI. Using these standards, NCBTMB was able to decrease its approval time and grow its AP program.

For the Future
Earlier this month, NCBTMB refined its AP program as of October 1, 2013 which now incorporates the review of courses and also Approved Providers. We seek a new qualifying committee to ensure consistency of quality and relevance to the developing needs of the profession as well as supporting licensing requirements. As we move forward with this program, NCB will require a “Think Tank” of our strongest educators throughout the country. Together, they will be tasked with redefining acceptable CE content.

The process, performed properly, has the potential to refine the current AP program into something that our entire community of Licensed Massage Therapists, Certified Massage Therapists, Schools, States and Approved Providers can agree on and use nationally. NCBTMB will collaborate with any/all allied organizations and stakeholders to develop a mechanism to monitor the approved providers as well as the course content and material.   

The massage therapy and bodywork profession must come together to find a way to determine what continuing education content standards look like for Licensure Renewal and Board Certification. Only when this is accomplished will we be able define the highest standards in this profession. We feel that we at NCB have an excellent foundation, infrastructure and process for the future of continuing education, but we need the support from the profession. Let not our experiences of the past drive our perceptions of the future. Let it definitely not feed our skepticism; let it inspire us to change, transform and morph to the next best step. Think not what NCBTMB should have, could have done. Think what you would do to make it attain the glory it deserves and that you have been part of for the last two decades.

Call to Action:
NCBTMB is inviting Subject Matter Experts to define and refine acceptable continuing education content and modalities. We would like to reach out and embrace the thoughts of our peer organizations and request their participation with this project. We welcome discussions from everyone in our industry concerning the NCBTMB, APCE program. We welcome the experienced and the committed educators to a radically better education system for massage professionals. Let us take stock of the reform movement, education politics and much else.

I end with another quote from Sir Winston Churchill

"Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts."

Courageous educators contact to discuss your interest and be a part of the solution.


This blog was written by:

Board Chair
Dr. Leena Guptha


Sara Holmes's picture
Submitted by Sara Holmes (not verified) on Fri, 11/01/2013 - 11:28

I went to the Alliance of International Aromatherapist Convention in September and there was a great deal of discussion about the Massage Industry supporting CE in aromatherapy practices that are not considered safe for clients...Raindrop Therapy, Undiluted application, etc. Does NCBTMB believe those courses should be approved when they encourage practices known to have safety/liablility issues? I was just curious about your position. Thank you!

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 01:34

Hello Sara,

Through a Think Tank initiative, comprised of expert Approved Providers and Stakeholders we wil be considering their recommentions in relation to appropriate CE courses, categorisation and vetting. As a general rule, if an individual is trained in a modality, they must practice that modality to the highest standards of safe and ethical practice. Thank you for sharing your experience at the convention and raising the issue of safety and liability.

Diane R Gerig's picture
Submitted by Diane R Gerig (not verified) on Sat, 11/02/2013 - 19:42

I've been licensed with NCBTMB now 10 years and I'm not sure I am liking the future. It is very possible I will not renew my license. I do not need to continue it to practice in OR or WA. I have become very disappointed with all the 'new hoops' practitioners have to 'jump through' to become licensed - more educational hours (unnecessary) and all the teacher mandates - just to do body work. I just think the added educational costs and CE only adds money to the the pockets of schools and does nothing to increase the real quality of therapists.

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 01:47

Hello Diane,

Your license would be with the state, NCBTMB provides certification. It sounds like you have been certified for 10 years, we would encourage you to transition to board certification, a higher level crendenial that demonstrates you have attained the highest standard curently available and promote your accomplishment to the consumer. The board certification is modelled on the career path of other healthcare professions. The new 'hoops; are 750 hours of education and the demonstration of 250 hours of practice. As a voluntary crendential it is your choice of course but we do advocate and support therapists in ongoing skill development and competencies. The transition to board certifiction costs $85. The choice on whether to take continued education is of course yours to make.

Mike mcAleese's picture
Submitted by Mike mcAleese (not verified) on Sun, 11/03/2013 - 07:39

I would Love to help .. Please contact me... I have been a SME for he last 7 years with NCB I own a small Massage school in Downers Grove Il.. And a Lic, Massage therapist for 21 years

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 01:50

Hello Mike,

Thank you for reaching out. If you would like to send your details to we will be sure to add you to the volunteer list and contact you in reference to school outreach and school related matters.

David Lauterstein's picture
Submitted by David Lauterstein (not verified) on Sun, 11/03/2013 - 10:28

My area is specialty is the combination of structural work and energetic work. As long as it doesn't take much time at all, I would be glad to pipe in very occasionally when it comes to the issues of energetic approaches and especially their integration with structural. I have always been convinced that integrative medicine is more fully served by approaches that are not just physical on the one hand and not just energetic on the other.
That said, there are some people virtually lobbying to see the energetic side of bodywork banned from basic and continuing education. I think this is, in part, because of excesses and mental sloppiness on the part of many who emphasize energetics. So maybe I can help the field not throw out the baby with the bath water. :) David Lauterstein, author Deep Massage: How to Combine Structure and Energy in Bodywork and AMTA Teacher of the Year, 2012.

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 02:00

Hello David,

Congratulations on your accolades! and thank you for your offer, we anticipate that the review of the Approved Provder program and development of recommendations from the profession would be a commitment of time. However, your views are very important to us. Feel free to send your details to the We will also be conducting surveys of our constituents and this would be another very valuable way that you can provide input towards the next evolution.

Mary Ellen Derwis LMT CNTT's picture
Submitted by Mary Ellen Derw... (not verified) on Tue, 11/05/2013 - 06:11

Thank you for your comments Leena, I would like to be involved in defining the scope of massage practice in a much broader sense. The emphasis, and please correct me if I am wrong seems to create a massage standard that is more linear in approach rather than more inclusive of the healing art of massage. I an a Chi Nei Tsang instructor certified by Mantak Chia. This work is precise as well as an art. I would think there will be room for modalities such as this in this new NCBTMB ce provider model. Please feel free to contact me is you are interested in integrating both camps so that there is room for all.

NCBTMB's picture
Submitted by NCBTMB on Thu, 11/07/2013 - 01:53

Hello Mary Ellen,

Thank you for sharing your backgrond and your views. If you would like to send your details to the wil be sure to add you to the volunteer list and reach out in relation to these considerations.

Add new comment

glqxz9283 sfy39587stf02 mnesdcuix8