Ensuring massage professionalism
Sponsored Content - Jan 01 - Think Local

Image: Contributed

Seeking a ​professional​ ​massage​ therapist ​can​ be a confusing experience.

It is important that the public know and understand the difference between a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) and a bodyworker or masseuse.

Most importantly, the RMT designation is a guarantee that the therapist is trained and monitored/regulated under BC’s Health Profession Act by the College of Massage Therapists of BC (CMTBC).

The mandate of the CMTBC is to ensure that RMTs have the same public safety ethics and accountability as health care professionals.

RMTs are ​trained​ ​to know and understand the muscle, joint and nervous systems of the body and​ patients ​can​ ​achieve​ ​relief​ ​from​ ​any number​ ​of​ ​physical​ ​ailments especially regarding the musculoskeletal system;​ ​go​ ​to​ ​a​ ​less​ ​qualified​ ​individual ​and​ ​the outcome may not be what you hoped for.

Unqualified​ ​masseuses​ ​and​ ​masseurs,​ ​who​ ​often​ ​operate​ ​in​ ​day​ ​spas​ ​or​ ​mall​ ​kiosks,​ ​may​ ​claim they​ ​can​ ​relieve​ ​and​ ​relax,​ ​but​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​significant​ ​difference​ ​between​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​gives massages or simply rubs the skin,​ ​and​ ​a​ ​registered​ ​massage​ ​therapist.

Brenda​ ​Locke​ ​is​ ​the​ ​executive​ ​director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​​Registered​ ​Massage​ ​Therapists’​ ​Association​ ​of British​ Columbia​. She​ ​says​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​you​ ​see​ ​a​ ​registered​ ​massage​ ​therapist​ ​is​ ​important​ ​not​ ​just​ ​because you’ll​ ​ have​ ​a​ ​better health outcome and​ ​experience,​ ​but you also know you are seeing a regulated health care professional that brings with it a number of accountability measures.

Many​ ​people​ ​probably​ ​don’t​ ​realize​ ​the​ ​level of education​ ​RMTs​ ​take​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to receive their diploma and meet the legislated requirements for registration with their regulatory body—especially​ ​in​ ​British​ ​Columbia,​ ​where​ ​Locke​ ​says​ ​the​ ​bar​ ​to​ ​become​ ​an RMT​ ​is​ ​among​ ​the​ ​highest​ ​in​ ​the​ ​world.

In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​practice​​ ​massage​ ​therapy​ ​in​ ​British Columbia,​ ​students​ ​have​ ​to​ ​first​ ​complete almost​ ​three​ ​years​ ​of​ ​​education which includes​ ​500​ ​clinical hours​. They then must​ ​pass​ both a written and practical​ ​exam​ ​before​ ​they​ ​are​ ​eligible for registration with their regulatory college.

Locke​ ​points​ ​out​ ​that​ ​RMTs​ ​have​ ​to​ ​learn​ such topics as​ ​anatomy​ ​and​ ​physiology​ ​“just​ ​like ​other​ ​health​ ​care​ ​professionals.”​ ​They​ ​also​ have​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​about​ ​how​ ​to​ ​work​ ​with patients with specific​ ​medical​ ​conditions.

“We’re​ ​really​ ​working​ ​in​​ ​a​ ​healthcare​ ​mindset,​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​somebody​ ​who’s​ ​working for​ ​a​ ​different​ ​reason,”​ ​she​ ​says. RMT treatments are always done with the best interest of the patient at the forefront.

Image: Contributed
The RMTBC logo signals a registered massage therapist.

As mentioned earlier, RMTs​ ​in​ ​B.C.​ ​also​ ​have​ ​a​ ​regulating​ ​college,​ ​like​ ​most​ ​other​ ​healthcare​ professions,​ ​so​ ​patients who​ ​feel​ ​they’ve​ ​been​ ​mistreated​ ​have​ ​a​ ​governing​ ​body​ ​that​ ​will​ ​hold​ the RMT​ accountable.

Anyone​ ​who’s​ ​tried​ ​to​ ​claim​ ​a​ ​visit​ ​to​ ​a​ ​massage​ ​therapist​ ​for​ ​insurance​ ​purposes​ ​knows​ ​that because of this​ ​professionalism​ ​and​ their ​focus​ ​on​ ​medically necessary treatments​ ​means​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​to​ ​insurers,​ ​as​ ​well.

Locke​ ​points​ ​out​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​bill​ ​to​ ​your​ ​third-party​ ​insurer​ ​if​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​see​ ​an​ ​RMT.​ ​That means​ ​organizations​ ​like​ ​ICBC,​ ​WorksafeBC,​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​work​ ​insurance​ ​won’t​ ​cover​ ​visits​ ​to non-registered​ ​“body​ ​workers.”

In​ ​the​ ​wake​ ​of​ ​recent​ ​news​ ​about​ ​a​ ​masseur​ ​accused​ ​of​ ​sexual​ ​assault,​ ​the Registered​ ​Massage​ ​Therapists’​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​British​ ​Columbia​ ​has​ ​made​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more visible.

All​ ​of​ ​the​ ​association’s​ ​members​ ​now​ ​display​ ​its​ ​logo,​ ​which​ ​Locke​ ​says​ ​will​ ​help​ ​people​ ​know when​ they’re​ ​seeing​ ​someone​ ​with​ ​the​ ​proper​ ​credentials.

“If​ ​a​ ​patient​ ​doesn’t​ ​see​ ​that​ ​logo,​ ​the​ ​person​ ​they’re​ ​going​ ​to​ ​is​ ​either​ ​not​ ​a​ ​member​ ​of​ ​ours,​ ​or may​
​not​ ​be​ ​a​ ​massage​ ​therapist​ ​at​ ​all,”​ ​she​ ​says.

About​ ​80​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​of​ ​registered​ ​massage​ ​therapists​ ​in​ ​the​ ​province​ ​are​ ​members​ ​of​ ​the Registered​ Massage​ ​Therapists’​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​British​ ​Columbia,​ ​so​ ​most​ ​legitimate​ ​RMTs​ ​will display​ ​the​ ​logo.

Locke​ ​urges​ ​clients​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​for​ ​credentials​ ​whenever​ ​they​ ​visit​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​doesn’t​ ​have​ ​the association’s​ ​logo​ ​on​ ​display.

A​ ​day​ ​spa’s​ ​body​ ​worker​ ​may​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​an​ ​excellent​ ​relaxation​ ​experience,​ ​and​ ​Locke says​ ​there’s​ ​no​ ​problem​ ​with​ ​going​ ​to​ ​one for a cosmetic experience.

“But​ ​if​ ​you​ ​actually​ ​want​ massage ​therapy,​ ​from​ ​a​ health care​ ​professional,​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to​ ​look​ ​for​ ​the​ ​logo,​ ​you need​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​you’re​ ​seeing​ ​an​ ​RMT,”​ ​she​ ​says.

For​ ​more​ ​information​ ​on​ ​RMTs,​ ​visit​ ​the​ ​​Registered​ ​Massage​ ​Therapists​ ​Association​ ​of​ ​British Columbia online.

This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.

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