Georgia BOMT no Longer accepts Energy Modalities

Georgia may be the first state in the U.S. that no longer accepts energy modalities and other “alternative” works as part their continuing education hours starting next month. On February 28, 2014, the Board “voted unanimously in favor of the motion to only accept continuing education that is within the scope of practice starting Nov.1, 2014. Specifically the Board will not accept: Energy Practices, Structural Integration, Reflexology and Movement Practices,” according to its report. Currently, energy work modalities, such as Reiki and similar methods, only count 12 hours toward massage therapy’s continuing education renewal.

“It is important for massage therapists to stay abreast of changes not only in their state, but neighboring states as well,” Brent Jackson said in an online interview with Guardian Liberty Voice, who is the Massage Therapy Program Manager at Central Carolina Technical College in South Carolina. “Changes in accepted content of continuing education tend to have a direct cause and effect relationship on scopes of practice, entry level training content, and the local massage industry for an area. A change in a neighboring state can very easily be the catalyst for changes in the state in which a massage therapist practices.”

Although the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy declines to comment on the topic, there are premises that may explain why the energy and other listed modalities are no longer accepted. “The basic push will be to require an ethics component  and another component within the specified scope of massage practice,” explained Keith Eric Grant, Ph.D., who is a physicist and a board member of the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). “The basic question for license renewal and continuing education is, does this improve practice and maintain skills (kinesthetic, cognitive, affective) within the scope of topics required for licensing?”

According to the Georgia Secretary of State website, massage therapy is defined as the “means the application of a system of structured touch, pressure, movement, and holding to the soft tissue of the body in which the primary intent is to enhance or restore health and well-being.” The law also states that nothing in Chapter 24A prevents any massage therapist from doing other modalities of work, including structural integration, energy work, and movement therapies, as long as they do not imply that these modalities are massage therapy. Therefore, such modalities would not be considered as a part of massage therapists’ continuing education.

“For most states, pure energy modalities are not an explicit part of the scope of practice,” Grant continued. “One of the problems from a regulatory perspective is how to regulate something which has no objective basis to determine good practice from bad practice, short of hygiene and tradition. “States are not particularly interested in regulating tradition without a concept of protecting the public.”

The Georgia Board of Massage Therapy decision will not have an immediate and direct effect on anther state’s massage therapy legislation, however, their decision may influence other states to follow a similar standard of not accepting energy and other modalities as part of the continuing education since they do not fall under the definition of massage therapy. This effect may or may not influence whether some massage therapists would want to integrate the listed modalities as part of their training and practice.

By Nick Ng

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