Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Certification v. Licensure

Q: I recently learned that Darya just got her national massage certification. I've been going to her for years now and had no idea she was not certified. I'm very concerned because I assumed someone in a professional establishment like yours would be appropriately licensed. Do the rest of your therapists have licenses?

A: This is a great question--thank you for asking. I'd like to start off by assuring you that all of our practitioners and instructors are appropriately credentialed. But I would also like to explain the difference between certification and licensure, which may help eliminate the confusion. The two main levels of credentialing in our society are licenses and certifications. 

First, licensure is a status granted by an individual state. For example, driving licenses are regulated at the state level. Similarly, states can choose to regulate other activities, such as hunting, fishing, or even careers by regulating specific professions. Being able to practice medicine or psychology is almost always regulated through the granting of licenses at the state level. Typically, professions where significant harm could be done to a client if the professional is not appropriately trained are regulated by licenses. In these cases, states determine what requirements they have for licensure, and an individual is not allowed to practice in that state without a license. 

However, there are many fields that fall under a gray area and so it varies from state to state--clients could be harmed if the professional is not properly trained, but the risk of harm is minimal or the state does not want to regulate it for some other reason. This is the case with massage therapy in Vermont. Although there is a great deal of science connected with the practice of massage therapy, and although a massage therapist could do some damage to a client if not properly trained, this is not a profession that Vermont has chosen to regulate at this time. Therefore, anyone can practice massage in Vermont without a license because Vermont massage licenses do not exist.

In contrast to state licensure, professionals can also be certified. Certifications come from a specific organization. For example, the Pyramid certifies students in massage therapy, Reiki, and fitness instruction. Certifications can be extremely localized, or they can be more nationally focused. A certification simply means that some person or organization has reviewed and/or provided a professional's education and/or work experience and certifies that it meets a minimum standard. 

In the field of massage therapy, it is generally accepted in Vermont that a localized professional certification is enough; however, some practitioners choose to increase their level of certification by adding additional training or testing. This is the case with both Darya McNolty and Tammy Brown. Darya had already received her massage training certificate from the Santa Monica School of Massage, and she worked for ten years as a massage therapist. However, in the field of massage, there is no national standard from state to state but the national board for massage therapy and bodywork (the NCBTMB) offers what they call a national certification, and that just means that the massage therapist meets one of the highest levels of certification in the United States. Darya recently successfully took their national exam which now gives her the additional certification, which, by the way, very few massage therapists in Vermont have. Tammy Brown has also recently completed an additional Yoga teaching certification; although she had completed her Yoga teacher training years ago, she recently completed education for another level of certification.

So I want to assure you that all of our practitioners and instructors have appropriate credentials--either licensure or certification status--and they are all actively working on improving their skills, so be sure to watch for more announcements of additional certifications coming soon and always!

William D. Kelley, Ph.D.
Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center
Pyramid Fitness and Oxygen Bar
120 and 79 Merchants Row
Rutland, VT 05701

1 comment:

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