What is in a name? Why does the confusion persist?
One has to concede that therapists who complain that in practice the profession of massage in South Africa has so far not benefited much from having been absorbed into the national healthcare system, have a point. Although it is increasingly being taken seriously by the public and other health professionals a number of factors are hindering the establishment of massage as a health profession:
- A lack of capacity exists in both the Department of Health and the AHPCSA, to bring unregistered therapists and training institutions to book.
- The massive marketing machine of the spa and beauty industry perpetuates the image of massage as part of the leisure and recreation industry only. MTA’s valiant and on the whole successful attempts at awareness raising campaigns has to compete with the spa and beauty industry’s slick and sponsored marketing campaigns put together by full-time professional PROs.
- Misinformation about the South African massage profession published in the media. Journalists interpret information available to them and most of the time the spa and beauty industry’s is more visible, glamorous and ‘sexy’. A young, attractive model having a massage in luxurious surroundings always makes for better photos than that of an elderly patient in a therapy room.
- Often articles are also based on information gained from the American websites, and do not resemble the South African context and legislation at all e.g. listing even reflexology and aromatherapy as types of massage.
- As registered massage therapists we often forget that we are the custodians of our own profession. Instead of actively taking charge of massage therapy by protecting and promoting it, we place our hopes for survival as a profession in the official structures. Rather we should rely on our collective voice and resources. MTA after all exists solely through and for those massage therapists who take their profession seriously.