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10 reasons why massage therapists need to join a professional association

10 reasons why massage therapists need to join a professional association surrounded by the logos of popular associations

Online there is lots of debate as to whether professional associations are worthwhile. Many massage therapists are put off by the cost and, in an attempt to run their clinics as lean as possible, leave this off their list of business expenses. Whether you have recently trained as a massage therapist or whether you have been working in a spa but are looking to strike out on your own, if you are looking to have a successful career in the massage industry then you should seriously consider joining a professional association. 

 Facebook post sparking a debate about whether as a massage therapist you need to belong to a professional association


However, like choosing cheap equipment for your massage therapy business, this could actually be a bit of a false economy. Not only do many professional associations offer all sorts of discounts on CPD courses but there are many other benefits which may not be as obvious at first glance. These benefits could end up saving you time as well as money and offer you invaluable opportunities to grow your massage therapy business.   


So what are the benefits to belonging to a professional association? 


1. Associations provide an up to date list of credible CPD courses 


There are plenty of courses out there which might well be interesting but won't really offer you the professional development you need. Sifting through to find accredited CPD courses can be time consuming and a real pain. Belonging to a professional association takes away the need to comb through the internet trying to spot the clues as to whether a teacher is a charlatan as associations provide curated lists of credible courses which you can easily skim through to find the perfect one for you! 


2. Professional associations can offer discounts and assistance with insurance  


Facebook post from Carol Greenwood about professional associations helping with insurance


Insurance can be a mine field, especially when you are first starting out as a massage therapist. As Carol mentions above there is plenty of insurance out there that in the fine print doesn't really reflect our needs as massage therapists. Belonging to a professional association can help you navigate this tricky world and make sure your business is properly covered. 


3. Many associations have helplines


Got a niggling question that you need a quick answer to? Whilst Facebook groups can be a great resource, we all know the kind of squabbling that debates can descend into and after a hour of research it is easy to feel none the wiser. Many professional associations have helplines staffed by experienced therapists who can answer your questions quickly and with years of insight. 


4. Professional associations can assist with potential legal issues 


Facebook post from Gina Reinge about professional associations can help with legal issues


Whilst the team at many professional associations aren't lawyers they do have years of experience within the massage industry and if you are having an issue with a client or with another aspect of your business they are a great first port of call to seek advice. This could save you hours as you can make a quick phone call versus hours and hours of research online, or worse hundreds of pounds speaking to a lawyer or an accountant. 


Facebook post from Carole Preen about professional associations being able to help with proof reading your massage therapy businesses' website and marketing materials


Carole Preen runs the Complementary Health Professional association so can testify that they offer another great benefit to your massage therapy business. By proof reading your marketing materials and the copy on your website not only can they help you set a professional tone for your business but they can also point out any potential pitfalls, for example any copy where you may be offering or implying services beyond the scope of practice. 


5. Professional associations can help you to feature on registers of professional therapists 


Facebook post from Fiona Wharton about being part of a professional association helping her get clients through insurance providers


Whilst no one is suggesting that droves of clients are going to come to you through your memberships to a professional association, as we have seen above from Becky, some massage therapists do find that they are contacted by people who are looking for help with a specific issue and who are searching for a professional ongoing treatment.


Facebook post from Dave Jackson about getting clients through belonging to a professional association


By belonging to certain associations (for example the CThA Complementary Therapists Association) you will feature on lists of qualified massage therapists that are used by clients who are searching for a massage that is compliant with their insurance. For insurers to pay for treatments these need to be delivered by a professional who is backed by a recognised association, yet another unexpected perk to signing up.   


6. Membership often includes magazines or online newsletters


Facebook post from Lindylou Cooke about the benefits of belonging to a professional association


As both Lindylou and Fiona mentioned above, with many professional associations membership often includes a magazine, an online newsletter or both. These publications aren't just a throwaway token, they are full of important updates like changes to legislature that you could otherwise miss out on as well as providing job postings and interesting updates in research. It is extremely time consuming to keep on top of these updates yourself, so having it reduced into one magazine or one email rather than sifting through several sources is very valuable to your business. 


7. Associations run seminars and meet ups with fellow massage therapists


Facebook post from Dan Stephens about the benefit of events from professional associations


As a massage therapist it is easy to become a hermit! Working in our clinics or out on the road with a mobile massage business means we are unlikely to meet with other therapists on a regular basis. This is turn means we don't learn things from each other as often as colleagues might in other industries. Belonging to a professional association can be a great way to meet other massage therapists and to have events at which you can network in a friendly environment. Local support groups can be an invaluable resource of information and guidance, especially in difficult times. Attending these groups not only help us to keep our standards and spirits up but you never know what opportunities could arise! 


8. London based therapists can avoid council fees 


Facebook post from Rosemary Pharo about London therapists being able to avoid fees by belonging to a professional association


If you are a massage therapist who is based in London then belonging to a professional association could literally save you thousands! As Rosemary explains above, each council requires a licence to practice which depending on your area could carry a hefty price tag. Being a registered member of an association like Think Tree Hub helps you to be exempt from this rule which is worth the price of membership alone! 


9. It looks professional to clients 


Facebook post from Becky Norris about clients coming to her for massages after researching professional associations


As we have seen above, some clients do find their therapists through curated lists provided to insurers or through in depth research. However, it is much more likely that most clients will come to you through word of mouth. Networking with local medical professionals is really key to getting your massage therapy business off the ground and setting yourself up to help clients with chronic pain or with a specific issue rather than being seen as a provider of luxurious treats is the way to work smarter and avoid burn out!  


Facebook post from Mandy Roper about looking more professional when as a massage therapist you belong to an assocation


Being a part of a professional association demonstrates that you take your massage therapy business seriously. If clients are weighing up their options, seeing that you are part of a professional network it may just sway them towards choosing you. It may also keep away the creeps who can easily identify that you are a serious massage therapist. 


10. Professional associations champion our industry and push for change


Facebook post from Cody Lucas about professional associations championing the massage industry and advocating for change


Professional associations help raise the standards and profile of the massage therapy in the UK. Ultimately many therapists would like to see massage be included in the wider complementary therapy community and move away from being seen as a luxurious treat sitting within the beauty industry. 



These associations are on the front line pushing for our industry to be taken more seriously. As massage therapists we would all benefit from these changes so it's only right that we get behind these organisations, show our support and demonstrate that we are serious about our profession by investing in being part of a wider network of therapists. Like all organisations, professional associations need our support to do their job, if collectively we demonstrate an apathy towards our industry then why would we expect any different from our clients? 


So which associations are worth checking out? 


With such a wide range of associations out there it can be tricky to know where to start. Whilst some of the more general associations are perhaps the best known, it is also worth investigating if there are more specific associations or groups within a wider association for the modalities of massage your specialise in as well. Choosing a niche for your business and belonging to both a wider and more niche associations can boost your reputation as a specialist and help you charge correctly for your massage treatments. Take a look at the list below and do your research to work out which association is best for you! 


CNHC - Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council - Not an association per se, the CNHC was set up by the government to protect the public by acting as the go to independent register for therapists who voluntarily agree to uphold the highest standards of conduct and who are all fully qualified and insured. Being a part of this list comes with a host of other benefits including many mentioned above so is well worth checking out and also is another great resource for finding accredited associations. 

FHT - Federation of Holistic Therapists - is widely respected and covers a broad spectrum of specialisms - from sports and remedial therapies, to a host of massage modalities as well as holistic beauty treatments. 

CHP - Complementary Health Professionals - with 25 years of experience this therapist led association is also a verifying organisation for the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council.

MTI - Massage Training Institute - Established in 1988 and chaired by Muscle Whisperer Earle Abrahamson, MTI focused solely on massage therapy and is a highly esteemed organisation for it's role in shaping the standards for holistic massage in the UK which were adopted by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). 

SMA - The Association for Soft Tissue Therapists - formerly known as the Sports Massage Association is supported by Muscle Whisperer Susan Findlay and is now promoting a wider aim of ensuring the best possible soft tissue therapy is available to sports and non sports people.

CThA - Complementary Therapists Association - Founded in 1999 the CThA covers a diverse spectrum of specialties with a range of experts sitting on their board to assists members of all modalities. They also host a range of regional and local events to support therapists and are passionate advocates for change in the industry. 

APNT - Association of Physical and Natural Therapists - Set up in 1986 and currently chaired by Brittney Spence, who is renowned career consultant with 13 years of experience in massage therapy, the APNT is a multidisciplinary association which is very active in elevating the massage industry in the UK. 

Think Tree Hub -Established by previous Chairman of Complementary Therapy Association (CThA) Kush Kumar, who has written qualifications for universities and sat on the board of multiple associations, Think Tree Hub 


Think Tree Hub offer


Do you belong to a professional association? In what ways has it helped you develop your career as a massage therapist? Let us know in our Facebook thread

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