A: The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) is an independent, private, nonprofit organization that fosters high standards of ethical and professional practice through a recognized certification program. NCBTMB certifies massage and bodywork practitioners on behalf of the profession for the benefit of consumers and employers. NCBTMB’s certification program is accredited by the National Commission for Certified Agencies (NCCA). NCCA is a national, non-governmental, public protection and standards-setting organization.
A: In an effort to keep pace with the growing field of massage therapy and bodywork, and to demonstrate a commitment to quality service, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) was established in 1992. NCBTMB originated with a focus of protecting the public, as well as upholding a national standard for the industry that, until that time, did not exist.
The goals of NCBTMB are to establish certification as a recognized credential of professional and ethical standards; promote the worth of certification to health, therapeutic massage and bodywork professionals, public policy makers and the general public; assure and maintain the integrity, stability and quality of the certification program; and periodically update the program to reflect state-of-the-art practices in therapeutic massage and bodywork.
A: The NCBTMB program promotes the status and credibility of the profession to advance more uniform standards of practice and ethical conduct. NCBTMB develops and maintains examinations that cover a core body of knowledge shared by practitioners, promotes continuing professional development, and has a recertification program to renew the credential. Each practitioner who holds the NCBTMB credential must comply with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, developed to ensure that the integrity and safety of each client are protected. In addition, the program helps clients and employers select professionals through its Find a Practitioner online resource, and makes it possible for practitioners to meet other professionals within the industry.
A: NCBTMB is governed by a Board of Directors, who are elected by certified practitioners via secret ballot. Each serves a four-year term. Board members may include any of the following:
- Practitioners of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork
- Researchers, educators or others who contribute professionally to the field of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork
- Owners or administrators of therapeutic massage and/or bodywork schools
- Employees or members of government agencies or boards that regulate therapeutic massage and/or bodywork
At least one Board member, but no more than two, is a “public member” and represents the interests of the general public. The CEO serves on the Board of Directors ex-officio, and without vote.
A: The mission of NCBTMB is to define and advance the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork profession.
NCBTMB has identified five goals in its Strategic Plan, which include:
- Scope of certification: NCBTMB’s certification program is in sync with the practice of massage therapy and bodywork and reflective of the profession’s evolution
- Knowledge of the environment: NCBTMB understands the issues affecting the practice of massage therapy and bodywork and uses this information to make knowledge-based decisions
- Value of the credential: Massage therapy and bodywork professionals and those who use and/or regulate their services will recognize and value the credential
- NCBTMB positioning: The NCBTMB program is respected as a model of excellence within the certification community
- Organizational effectiveness: NCBTMB is a well-managed, effectively governed, fiscally sound organization responsive to stakeholders’ needs
A: The NCBTMB certification program is designed to include practitioners from several modalities and disciplines, including Swedish massage, shiatsu, polarity therapy, Rolfing®, Trager® techniques, reflexology, neuromuscular therapy and more. The certification examination tests a practitioner’s knowledge of the areas of commonality among the various modalities.
A: Certification strives to protect the consumer, the profession and employers by ensuring that individuals who obtain this credential possess core knowledge and attributes necessary to perform beyond entry level. Board Certification could increase the mobility of practitioners as standards become nationalized and fosters uniform and improved standards of professional practice and conduct. In addition, it offers a formal process for grievances and non-compliance with professional standards.
A: To become Board Certified, a massage therapist or bodyworker must:
- Take and pass the Board Certification Exam
- 750 hours of education (this includes hours from your core program along with CE from an NCBTMB Approved Provider, Assigned School, or courses taken from an accredited college or university)
- 250 hours of documented hands-on massage, actual work experience; 25 hours of volunteer massage may be applied to the 250 hours. Hours must be achieved in no less than six months after graduating from an NCBTMB Assigned School
- Pass a national background check
- Uphold NCBTMB’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
- Maintain current CPR certification
- Commit to oppose human trafficking
A: Each candidate for certification must read and agree to uphold the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. The Code of Ethics statement reads: Massage therapists and bodyworkers shall act in a manner that justifies public trust and competence, enhances the reputation of the profession and safeguards the interests of individual clients. The Standards of Practice were developed to help the public understand the duties and responsibilities of practitioners – and to provide practitioners with a definitive guide to professional conduct and practice.
A: For a practitioner, there are many benefits. Board certification:
- Represents the highest credential in the field
- Communicates a commitment to safe, ethical practice
- Provides a competitive edge
- Gains increased visibility and credibility
- Reassures clients and employers
- Includes a listing in NCBTMB’s practitioner locator service
- Establishes practitioners as healthcare providers on par with other professionals requiring certification
- Recognition by a third party and other professions
- Enhanced professional reputation
- Personal accomplishment
- Supporting continued professional development through commitment to lifelong learning
- Demonstrating a higher level of knowledge and skill
- Increased opportunities for career advancement and/or increased earnings
- Validation of skills and knowledge
A: Certification acknowledges that a candidate for employment possesses a core body of knowledge. It stands as a commitment to professional and ethical service, self-improvement, and a pledge to uphold the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice. Employers find that Board Certified practitioners attract clients because the credential stands for quality, integrity and professional service. Certification also provides a formal process for filing grievances if a therapist is not in compliance.
A: Board Certification assures consumers that their interests are being protected. Consumers can trust that they are being served by a professional whose practices are aligned with the national standard—and go beyond what an entry level massage therapist may provide.
NCBTMB’s six professional standards include:
- Legal and ethical requirements
- Business practices
- Roles and boundaries
- Prevention of sexual misconduct
If a Board Certified practitioner engages in a behavior that violates the NCBTMB Standards of Practice, a complaint or grievance can be filed. Anyone can submit a formal complaint, including a client, coworker or another nationally certified practitioner. To do so, click here.
A: Therapeutic massage and bodywork encompasses a large variety of touch therapies from Western and non-Western traditions. Using a conceptual and philosophical framework, the practitioner of therapeutic massage and bodywork incorporates knowledge of various systems of anatomy, physiology and pathology to apply a plan of care for those with a variety of soft tissue dysfunctions, stress related conditions and energetic imbalances.
Therapeutic massage and bodywork provides benefits on a physical, mental and emotional level for a wide variety of consumers. Some use it to strengthen the immune system, as a form of health maintenance or as a form of rehabilitation. Others use it to provide stress reduction and relaxation.
A: The NCBTMB certification program is accredited by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (formerly NCCA, National Commission for Certified Agencies). They are the only national accreditation body for private certification organizations, in all disciplines, to demonstrate adherence to established standards.