Certification is an important consideration when choosing an Oregon/Washington massage school. Each massage therapy training program carries its own set of certifications, some from state massage boards, and others from industry groups.
East West College is licensed through the Oregon Department of Education. Our program is also approved by the Washington Board of Massage, the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists, and the Oregon Vocational Rehabilitation Division. Today we’re focusing on our COMTA accreditation, as it conveys a level of excellence that distinguishes East West College. About 85 schools are currently certified in COMTA. East West College is the only COMTA-accredited program in Portland, and one of only 4 COMTA schools on the entire West Coast.
COMTA (Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation) is a specialized accreditation agency that provides massage schools with an additional, voluntary layer of professional evaluation beyond state accreditation. COMTA maintains a standard set of benchmarks that massage therapy programs can meet or exceed to ensure they are delivering a high-quality massage therapy education.
The COMTA Accreditation Process
To earn COMTA accreditation, a massage school must first submit a report describing their program. A team of COMTA volunteers reads the report, and then visits the school to make sure that the report matches what is actually being done at the school. COMTA also researches schools’ effectiveness–i.e. whether students are actually learning what the school’s courses teach.
COMTA offers a 5-year certification period. Every five years, schools must apply for reaccreditation, with a new report and a new round of COMTA visitors.
Why COMTA Certification is Exceptional
- COMTA is Specifically for Massage.
COMTA is a massage-specific certification. It was designed as a set of standards for massage therapy. This is important because many massage training programs do not retain massage-specific certifications.
What tends to happen is that a school that already has an institutional certification decides to add on a massage extension program. For instance, technical and career schools often have COE (Council on Occupational Educator) certification, which has nothing to do with massage therapy.
- COMTA sets massage curriculum competencies.
COMTA standards include curriculum criteria. COMTA believes that entry-level massage programs should meet certain standards to ensure students learn how to be competent therapists. This massage-specific curriculum review is rare among accreditation agencies.
COMTA is a good baseline for overall massage program effectiveness. Other accreditation agencies are good at checking into the administration side of things, but they lack massage-specific criteria.
A therapeutic massage school with top-notch certifications—such as COMTA–will tend to deliver more effective learning. Moreover, students can only receive federal loan aid through a certified program. Beyond the education process, accreditation serves clients and therapists alike, as it ensures competency in core aspects of massage.