The Drive for Legitimation of Massage Therapy in New Zealand

  • Donna M. Smith, PGDip(TT) Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand New Zealand Massage Therapy Research Centre, Southern Institute of Technology
  • Joanna M. Smith, PhD New Zealand Massage Therapy Research Centre, Southern Institute of Technology
  • David Baxter, DPhil Centre for Physiotherapy Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago
  • Rachel Spronken-Smith, PhD Higher Education Development Centre, University of Otago, New Zealand
Keywords: massage therapy education, degree-based education, complementary and alternative therapies, legitimation, professionalization, New Zealand

Abstract

Research into body work based complementary and alternative therapies, such as osteopathy and chiropractic has highlighted barriers and benefits of professionalization for these professions. There has been no examination of the road massage therapy has taken towards legitimation and professionalization. This review article examines the drive by massage therapists for legitimation as health professionals within New Zealand. Massage therapy has an extensive and complex history. Within this history, massage therapy has gone from being part of orthodox medicine and acceptable, to being complementary and marginalized as an industry. In an effort to overcome this position, the massage therapy industry has attempted to gain legitimation by establishing professional associations, defining scopes of practice, lobbying government, and raising education standards. This article also discusses the historical journey of massage therapy, the evolution of massage therapy education in New Zealand, higher education as a means to occupational recognition and control, and the elements of professionalization that may support legitimation and occupational boundary protection for massage therapists.
Published
2012-12-15
How to Cite
Smith, PGDip(TT), D. M., Smith, PhD, J. M., Baxter, DPhil, D., & Spronken-Smith, PhD, R. (2012). The Drive for Legitimation of Massage Therapy in New Zealand. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, & Practice, 5(4), 21-29. https://doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v5i4.196
Section
Education