In a long-planned move intended to standardize massage regulation and improve portability, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) will no longer provide licensing exams, effective beginning Feb.

1, 2015. A press release from the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB), noted that FSMTB worked with NCBTMB leaders to craft an agreement whereby FSMTB’s Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) will be the only exam offered for massage therapy licensure.

In 2005, the first meetings convened to form the FSMTB were done so due to “concerns of most significance,” according to FSMTB’s website, including “the need for the provision of a valid and reliable licensing exam and the desire to bring commonality in licensing requirements to assist with reciprocity and professional mobility.”

According to FSMTB Executive Director Debra Persinger, Ph.D., this move will better allow licensed massage therapists to practice in a variety of geographic locations. “This brings the profession so much closer to realizing our goal of improving portability for licensees,” she said. “It has been gratifying to work on this initiative with the NCBTMB leadership to address the shared goal of serving the profession by capitalizing on our specific areas of expertise in licensing and certification, respectively.”

NCBTMB began offering Board Certification in 2013; prior to that, the organization offered standalone certification in therapeutic massage, and in therapeutic massage and bodywork, and its exam was used by some states to regulate massage therapists. Board Certification requirements include passing an exam, completion of 750 hours of massage education, 250 hours of hands-on experience completed over no less than six months from graduation; and a background check.

NCBTMB also approves providers of continuing education; however, in 2012, a task force appointed by FSMTB recommended “the focus of licensure renewal requirements shift from requiring continuing education hours to maintaining core competencies,” according to a statement titled, “Standardized Licensure Renewal Recommendation for Continuing Professional Competence,” published on FSMTB’s website, and which also noted,“The best way to ensure public protection is to address competencies for safe and professional practice and areas identified as requiring regulatory intervention and guidance.”

NCBTMB will stop accepting licensure exam applications on Nov. 1, and will stop offering licensure examinations on Feb. 1, 2015, according to the press release.

Requests for interviews with NCBTMB representatives by this publication were not responded to by press time. MASSAGE Magazine will continue to cover this story as news develops.

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