In November of 2007, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) stated that they would accept distance education as a valid form of training for massage therapy and bodywork. This decision has been a much discussed issue since this decision. The NCBTMB apparently is seeking to create a forum for discussion about this topic by establishing a blog specifically about distance eduation as it relates to massage training and certification.
Currently, there are only three posts on the blog, all posted on May 15, 2008. While the consensus seems to generally be in favor of distance education, there is obviously a misunderstanding of the definition of acceptable distance education as defined by the NCBTMB. Those who were critical of the Board’s decision voiced concern that distance education could never tale the place of hands-on training and experience. In fact, the organization has stated specifically that “only course work that is theoretical and not hands-on is allowed.”
There will never be an adequate substitute for hands-on training for a massage therapist. However, the Internet has opened the door to thousands of time strapped individuals seeking an education and the opportunity for career advancement. The theoretical portion of a massage student’s training seems to be perfectly appropriate for presentation through distance education modules. After all, registered nurses can study online to receive a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and no one is complaining. That is because the clinical training for nurses remains in a clinical setting as does the hands-on training for massage therapists.
Before criticizing the NCBMTB for their position on distance education, critics should familiarize themselves with the Board’s actual position.