Critique Essay of Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (BOK)

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CritiqueEssay of Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (BOK)

CritiqueEssay of Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge (BOK)

TheMassage Therapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK) is a document thatrepresents the massage community. It contains four essentialelements: an explanation of the massage therapy realm the span ofpractice for massage therapists an explanation of proficiencyrequired for entry-level massage therapists including knowledge,skills, and abilities, and specific massage terms. Notably, thesemessages are unique to the field of massage therapy while some haveparticular meanings to massage therapy. MTBOK establishesprofessional descriptions of the massage therapy field, therebyproviding a basis for future growth and discussion. Moreover, thedocument presents mechanisms that every professional domain includingeducation, research, and practice should use to accomplish its fullpotential of directing and helping the advancement of the field. Itsobjective is to provide a basis for expansion as well as developmentof the entire message therapy profession. It is expected to changeand grow as the field develops hence it is termed as a livingdocument. The massage therapy community needs to maintain and improvethe manuscript for the continued professional progress of the field.


MTBOKwas formulated by an autonomous task force that comprised of talentedindividuals of the massage therapy occupation. The representative ofthe entire massage therapy community was considered when selectingthe members. The first section is a preamble and overview of thewhole document. The authors provide justification for an MTBOK. Theynote that the need for an MTBOK was known for some time. Before thedevelopment of the document, meetings with representatives of massagetherapy associations and related healthcare groups were held totackle the shared issues. The delegates agreed that an independenttask force should develop the MTBOK. Secondly, the document focuseson the vision of the MTBOK. Its vision is to design and implement auniversal book of information on massage therapy. The book is definedas “a living resource of competencies, standards, and values thatinform and guide the domains of practice, licensure, certification,education, accreditation and research&quot (MTBOK Task Force, 2010,p. 5). In the next section, the authors offer an extensiveexplanation of the massage therapy line of work. Massage therapy isdefined as a well-being as well as healthcare vocation. Therapysessions support the therapeutic objectives of clients or patientsand meet the well-researched requirement for human and touchconnection. The task force then discusses the approaches andtechniques used by message therapists to address clients’ needsincluding but not restricted to treatment of injury, conditions orpain, wellness, reducing stress, relaxation, body awareness, personaldevelopment, better movement, balance and bond of mind, spirit andbody. Later, the authors state the practice settings where messagetherapy is performed.

Thenext section (120) focuses on the description of massage therapy aswell as the span of practice statement. Massage therapy refers to thewellness and healthcare profession that involve the management ofsoft tissue. The scope of massage therapy should at least include forentry-level and post-graduate training in the use of touch throughvarious methods such as compression, stroking, and kneading amongothers that help to improve massage therapy (MTBOK Task Force, 2010).The skills’ outline states the competencies that massage therapistsshould possess. The authors also focus on the various treatments thatare not part of the range of competencies required of massageprofessionals including the performance of surgery and diagnosis oforthopedic or medical illnesses or conditions.

Section200 concentrates on the competencies that massage therapists shouldhold regarding skills, abilities, and knowledge. The authors presentthe minimum requirements that are recommended for massage therapiststo enter into professional practice. Firstly, massage therapists needto comprehend the origin and development of their field and frameworkprofessions (MTBOK Task Force, 2010). Secondly, the authors note thatmassage therapists ought to have sufficient knowledge, skills as wellas abilities related to anatomy and physiology. They should becompetent in anatomy structures as well as their position togetherwith their interactions, roles, and related medical terms. Thirdly,they should be educated and well-informed on kinesiology or movementsince it is related to the physiology and anatomy of the human body.The fourth type of KSAs should be on pathology or the psychologicaland physiologic processes that result from illness and/or injurysince they relate to massage therapy. Fifth, the authors note thatmassage therapy requires competency related to procedures, practicesas well as the relative terminology of documentation, treatmentplanning and assessment (MTBOK Task Force, 2010). Next, therapistsshould possess KSAs related to research and information literacy.They should know the process and necessity of scientific research,its significance to their occupation, information literacy,literature review expertise and related terms. Moreover, the taskforce noted that massage therapist should have KSAs related tobusiness practices, laws as well as regulations. They should bewell-versed in national, state and municipal laws, and regulationsrelated to massage therapy and stay updated on such rules andlegislation. Besides, they should know the boundaries, ethics and thetherapeutic relationship. Additionally, KSAs relate to body workingsfor self-care and use of massage methods. They should also bewell-versed with various massage techniques and the psychological andphysiological impacts (MTBOK Task Force, 2010). Lastly, they shouldpossess KSAs related to therapeutic modalities.

Section300 addresses massage therapy terminology to provide definitions ofspecific terms that were used in the context of the book ofknowledge. The described terms include altruistic love and kindness,assessment, attention (focused and unfocused), attunement, bodylanguage, body, mind and spirit, bodywork, certification, client,clinical massage, complementary and integrative medicine (CIM)practices, compression, deep tissue, and deep tissue work/massage.The others are diagnosis, discipline, empathy, energy, friction,genitals, genitalia, gliding/stroking, holding, informed consent,interoceptive awareness, intersubjectivity, joint play, kneading,legend drug, licensing, lifting, massage therapy related or equalterminologies, and medical massage. They also defined mobilization,modality, movement and mobilization, neuromuscular re-education,palliative care, patient, patient, percussion, physical agent,prescription, professionalism, pathophysiology, registration,resonance, scope of practice, self-regulation, sexual misconduct,social neuroscience, soft tissues, special tests, spirit, standardsof care, standards of practice, supportive environment, technique,therapeutic process, therapeutic relationship, treatment massage,treatment planning, vibration and wellness.

Section400 presents an acknowledgment by the task force. They recognize anumber of publishers for availing materials that were very useful indeveloping the MTBOK (MTBOK Task Force, 2010). The last section- 500is an appendix on numerous massage therapy terms. The focus of theMTBOK was the complete range of the massage therapy profession. Itlays out the KSAs that massage therapist should possess and variousterminologies related to massage therapy.

Evaluation.Thetask force developed an efficient body of knowledge that offersmassage therapy experts a shared understanding of their profession.The MTBOK embodies the opinions and ideas of these practitionerssince there were two preliminary releases of the document. Each has acomplete round of public comments and discussions that invitedcriticism, comment, and dialogue (Salvo, 2015). This ensures thereliability of the document due to the inclusion of all stakeholders.Additionally, the task force was independent of the influence andcontrol of any professional entity and stakeholder groups. The otherstrength is the applicability across the whole extent of massagetherapy. Furthermore, it is a living education document that willgrow with and before the message therapy community (MTBOK Task Force,2010). Notably, the information is well organized. The documentcontains four primary sections including the “preamble andoverview” “description of massage therapy and scope ofpractice” “competency requirements for a massage therapist interms of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs)” and“terminology” (MTBOK Task Force, 2010, p.2-52). The task forcealso defined the message therapy practice and scope effectively. Theywere quick to acknowledge that the document does not have any legalauthority the jurisdictions of professionals determine the legalauthority. The MTBOK established a common foundation amongst all ofthe statutes and laws in America. It will inform and supportlawmakers as they formulate laws (Salvo, 2015). The listedcompetencies concerning KSAs are critical as they will guideeducational stakeholders to evaluate and review their competenciesand develop further skills and programs. Besides, it will serve as ahandbook for researchers. The MTBOK will help to preserve thereliability of massage therapy professionals. The document is a basisupon which the professionals can build their career while stillappreciating its multiplicity and continuing advancement as informedby the government and industry (Salvo, 2015).

Theweaknesses of the MTBOK include the small number of the task force.The working group comprised of only eight people that appliedfeedback attained through the comment and review method. Input frommany practitioners from all domains would have encouraged moreacceptance, value as well as utilization of the body of knowledge(Salvo, 2015). The involvement of more professionals would haveserved to boost the legal authority of the MTBOK.

Response.Whilecreating the MBOK, the task force carried out two cycles of publiccomments that led to the submission of more than 1200 comments. Theworking group read and discussed every comment and took theappropriate action. There has been much discussion about thedocument however, there is a definite timeline or plans for futureimprovements. The Alliance for Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) hasmade extensive comments about the MTBOK document for possiblerevisions. Moreover, the organization will seek input from themassage community regarding the comments (AFMTE, 2017).


TheMTBOK creates a shared understanding of the massage therapyoccupation. It is an active reserve of standards, knowledge,abilities, skills as well as values that guide and inform practice.This knowledge body shapes the future of massage therapy and has aweighty effect on the profession. It effectively describes the fieldof massage therapy, its scope of practice, competencies ofprofessionals in terms of KSAs, and important terminologies.Nonetheless, MTBOK requires extensive reviews from professionals ofall domains to boost its reliability and legal authority.Additionally, it will benefit education and training programs onmassage therapy. Finally, it will develop and evolve over time inresponse to the needs of the massage therapy line of work.


Alliancefor MTBOK Massage Therapy Education (AFMTE) (2017). MTBOK-Massage Therapy Body of Knowledge.Retrieved from

MTBOKTask Force (2010). MassageTherapy Body of Knowledge (MTBOK).Version 1.0.

Salvo,S. (2015). Massagetherapy: Principles and practice.Amsterdam: Elsevier