From plumbing to engineering, established careers have special delegations to indicate experience and expertise. Professional organizations authenticate quality via specialized certifications. Massage therapy is no exception. For accredited massage schools, one designation stands head and shoulders above all others: COMTA accreditation.
Of course, if we’re looking at the individual level, massage therapist certification, or licensure, is the first thing to consider. LMT requirements vary from state to state. Here in Oregon, for instance, a therapist must pass a national exam (such as the MBLEX) as well as the Oregon jurisprudence (massage law) exam, pass a background check, pay a feel of $100-$200, and provide documents such as CPR certification, a government ID, three references, a passport-sized photograph, and transcripts. Those transcripts must include 625 hours of education from an institution approved by The Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission.
COMTA accreditation is an additional quality indicator for massage therapy schools. It is a national accreditation which sets a high bar by naming curriculum competencies for each massage certification program, including:
Ability to plan and organize an effective massage and bodywork session. LMTs must have a strong understanding of anatomy and physiology, but they must also have effective communication skills to understand each client’s health conditions and the corresponding impact of different massage techniques. Massage therapists also study how different massage therapy approaches may affect clients physiologically and emotionally after the session has ended..
Ability to perform massage therapy and bodywork for therapeutic benefit. While some schools determine massage therapy competence through written exams, COMTA accreditation requires institutions to assess massage technique through partner work and a public-facing clinic. This category also includes the use of massage tables and tools, such as hot therapy packs.
Ability to develop and implement a self-care strategy. Self-care is critical in a helping profession such as massage. COMTA accreditation ensures that a school teaches it massage students how to sustain their careers through self-care.
Ability to develop successful and ethical therapeutic relationships with clients. Professionalism is taught at COMTA-accredited massage therapy schools; this may include punctuality, professional dress, cultural awareness, and respecting professional boundaries.
Ability to develop a strategy for a successful practice, business, or employment situation. Some new LMTs will launch their own businesses; others may join a massage collective, while still others seek employment through an established massage clinic or spa. COMTA ensures that accredited schools prepare their graduates for the various career options.
Ability to identify strategies for professional development. New massage therapy research is published every day. Keeping up with the latest information is not only essential to providing top-notch massage therapy; state massage therapy boards also require regular continuing education to maintain certification. COMTA-accredited schools teach their massage scholars how to stay up-to-date.
Overall, voluntary COMTA accreditation communicates that a massage therapy school has achieved high performance, quality, and integrity. Peer experts in massage therapy provide outside assessment in the COMTA accreditation process. Accreditation is no simple feat; it requires that schools submit policies, procedures, reports, and curriculum for review; undergo a multi-day site visit; provide annual outcome reports; and abide by multiple COMTA policies and guidelines for excellence. Indeed, COMTA accreditation is so challenging that the commission offers multiple courses on how to become certified.
East West College went through the re-accreditation process in 2021, and COMTA extended our accreditation through 2028. We are proud to meet COMTA’s strong administrative and curriculum standards. In addition to acknowledging our administrative and academic competence, COMTA accreditation allows us to offer federal financial aid to those who qualify.
If you are interested in learning more about our massage therapy program, we invite you to get in touch with our massage therapy admissions team today.