Hands of Time: AMTA- WA Chapter’s History

AMTA WA Chapter Milestones 1947-2022


  • AMTA founded in Washington State by Ruth and Jesse Williams of Tri-Cities, Washington. See Ruth Williams: 25 years: History in the Making (full text/pdf on archive.org)

September 26, 1943, a meeting of Massage Operators was called at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Murray in Seattle, Washington. It is not clear from the minutes of the meeting exactly who was present, but those spoken of in the minutes are Hugh Murray, Helen Wallis, David Jolly, Dolla Myers, Robert Cram, Milton Niedfolt, Wilbur Malone, Elsie Miller, Jessie LaBaron, Al Stilloy, Vorn Zeller, Miss Holt and Mrs Gardner.


  • Washington State had three massage schools: Atomic School of Massage in Tri-Cities, Broadmoor in Seattle and one school in Spokane.


  • Washington State required passage of State Massage Exam to practice. Ruth Williams was among the first to be licensed; also Heida Brenneke, Cheryl Hockett, Susan Rosen, William Prelle, Daisy and Cohen Kallop, Lucy and Fred Baker, Richard Butt.


  • Washington State began approving massage schools (1988). LMPs began working with auto injury claims.
  • Uniform Disciplinary Act (UDA) defines and governs all providers in WA State. LMPs were included for the first time, which gave us status as healthcare providers. Because of this action, Labor and Industries opened up to us in July the following year-(1984) LMPs began working with L&I. CHAPTER 279 [Substitute House Bill No. 11781 HEALTH ANDHEALTH-RELATED PROFESSIONS AND BUSINESSES CONSOLIDATION OFDISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES
  • 1987 Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill No. 52991 MASSAGE THERAPY – Massage operator to massage practitioner /Massage Examining Board to Board of Massage “massage therapy” health care service involving the external manipulation or pressure of soft tissue for therapeutic purposes.
  • More massage schools opened: Brenneke School of Massage, Acadia, Spectrum Center School of Massage, Alexandar’s School of Natural Therapeutics, Fairhaven and Brian Utting School of Massage.LMPs began doing Labor and Industry injured worker claims.
  • 1988 – WA Board of Massage begins approval process for Massage Schools
  • LMPs began doing auto injury insurance treatments.
  • Washington Sports Massage Team Officially Started (1987).
  • 1989 The Dept. of Health is created as a state agency and the licensing and regulation of all health care providers moves from DOL to DOH.


  • State Standards for Massage Education set at 500 hours.


  • Sales tax added to LMP fees. LMPs organized protest and win. (Entered the era of “Healthcare Provider”)
  • NCBTMB (National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork) formed.


  • Health Care Reform Act Passed
  • First MERT Deployment: Inaugural Day Windstorm.


  • Chapter contracted with lobbyist Melanie Stewart.


  • State dropped practical exam, adopted National Certification Exam.


  • “Every Category of Provider” law passed creating WAC 284-170-270. Every category of health care providers giving individuals the right to choose the provider they will see for a covered condition as long as it is within a healthcare provider’s scope of practice. It was a law that was created by the insurance commissioner at the time, Deborah Senn. The insuracne companies fought it fiercly, but Senn won. A task force was created that included AMTA- WA chapter leaders. The Report of the Clinician Workgroup on the Integration of Complementary and Alternative Medicine January 2000 was created to provide guideline for implementation. See the full report and timeline.
  • Atlanta Olympic/Paralympic Games – First time that sports massage was included as a member of medical service for the games by a local organizer.


  • Chapter contracted with management consultant David Matteson.
  • Health Care Reform is declared constitutionally legal all the way to the Supreme Court in San Francisco.
  • Eisenburg Study on low back pain with Dan Cherkin at the Center for Health Studies began.
  • Somatic Practitioners were exempted in RCW. Somatic Practitioners were exempted in RCW. SUBSTITUTE HOUSE BILL 1875 Individuals who have completed a somatic education training program approved by the secretary


  • National Sports Massage Team dissolved.
  • AMTA-WA Chapter membership at 2,200.
  • Chapter hired administrative director Cathy Olson.
  • AMTA-WA participated in the Clinicians’ Workgroup on the Integration of CAM (CWIC) with Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn from 1998-2000. The workgroup existed fro three full years addressing myths, fears and coverage issues from service that were not understood by insurers. The relationships developed through that workgroup are still supporting the CAM professions today.


  • Unit policies developed.
  • Chapter website launched.
  • Insurance Committee became the Health Care Integration Committee.


  • Animal Massage Endorsement. SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5621 ANIMAL MASSAGE
  • Chapter contracted with Rial Marketing Communications to produce the Washington Massage Journal member publication.
  • White House Commission Town Hall Meeting in Seattle (AMTA-WA testimony).
  • Northwest Integrated Health Care 2000 – King County; AMTA-WA participated.


  • MERT-WA was established.
  • 9/11
  • Contracted with bookkeeper Gloria Major.
  • Eisenburg Study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMMA).


  • Salt Lake City Olympic/Paralympic Games – Sports massage was again recognized as a member of medical services. The AMTA petitioned the Internal Olympic Committee to make sports massage a mandated service of the Games.
  • First Chapter Volunteer Gathering held.
  • Reflexologists were exempted in RCW. SENATE BILL 6698


  • MYOPAC raises $11,000 to help defeat I-895. This initiative threatened a patient’s right to access the healthcare provider of their choice to deliver covered services in their health insurance policy.
  • I-895 dies.
  • Biggest political contribution by the massage profession ($11,000 in donations to MYOPAC).
  • HB 2460 dismantles much of Washington State healthcare reform, but “Every Category Provider” law still intact.
  • Chapter membership at 4,000.


  • Updated Chapter website launched
  • Chapter Listserv launched.
  • MYOPAC is retired and a new political action committee, Washington Massage Alliance for Health, is created.
  • AMTA-WA volunteers provide massage at the National Conference of State Legislators which was held in Seattle.


  • Worked with the Association of Washington cities to end discriminatory local massage ordinances.
  • Online registration available for the first time for Chapter Convention.
  • Seattle Unit volunteers provide on-site massage at Habitat for Humanity construction site.
  • Department of Health issues new rules which define professional misconduct for all healthcare providers in Washington.


  • Chapter membership at 4,425
  • National Provider Identifier (NPI) required for all healthcare providers by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in accordance with HIPAA.
  • AMTA-WA launches legal services program as a free AMTA-WA member benefit.
  • MERT-WA volunteers provided on-site massage for construction volunteers who were building a family home in Kirkland for the TV show Extreme Makeover Home Edition.
  • AMTA-WA wrote and worked to pass HB 1397 which expanded scope of practice to include intraoral massage as an endorsement to the massage license.
  • AMTA-WA wrote and worked to pass HB 1341 which repealed language from the massage practice act that allowed local jurisdictions to charge additional fees for massage businesses that were not required for non-massage businesses.
  • SB 5403 passed which created a new category of animal massage therapists under the purview of the veterinary board for those who only want to work with animals and not humans


  • Chapter membership at 4,565.
  • Updated Chapter Website launched.
  • AMTA-WA wrote and worked to pass SHB 2959 which placed the massage continuing education requirement into law (RCW) and not just in rule (WAC) and created an inactive license category for massage.
  • Massage Awareness and Involvement Network (MAIN) launched.


  • Chapter membership at 4,649.
  • Health Electronic Resource for WA (HEAL-WA) an evidence-based health sciences information website is launched. Site funded by an additional fee added on to state healthcare providers.
  • AMTA-WA volunteers provide on-site massage at the Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day benefiting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
  • Department of Health issues new rules for continuing education for massage practitioners.


  • Chapter membership at 4,744
  • Affordable Care Act Passed.  AMTA-WA continues to protect the Every Category Law


  • Chapter membership at 4,690
  • SHB 1133 passed making it so A massage practitioner’s name and license number must conspicuously appear on all of the massage practitioner’s advertisements.


Certification of Reflexologists ENGROSSED SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 6103 effective date July 1, 2013.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 06/07/12 – Except sections 1 through 19, which become effective 07/01/13.
Secretary or (DOH inspectors) given authority to inspect massage/reflexology
businesses during business hours

2013 – AMTA-WA hires Diana Thompson to create document showing how massage will fit into the ACA at request of OIC. The Summary of Evidence: Massage Therapy is an Integral Component in the Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits. Summary of Evidence download here

2014 Legislative Update from Lobbyist Melanie Stewart


A new section is added to chapter 18.108 RCW to read as follows:
The following penalties must be imposed upon an owner of a massage business or
reflexology business where the unlicensed practice of massage therapy or
reflexology has been committed:
● (1) Any person who with knowledge or criminal negligence allows or permits the
unlicensed practice of massage therapy or reflexology to be committed within his or
her massage business or reflexology business by another is guilty of a
misdemeanor for a single violation.
● (2) Each subsequent violation, whether alleged in the same or in subsequent
prosecutions, is a gross misdemeanor punishable according to chapter 9A.20

2017 – AMTA-WA wrote and worked to pass SHB 2425 to change our title from licensed massage practitioner to licensed massage therapist.

Chapter 41, Laws of 2016 64th Legislature 2016 Regular Session MASSAGE PRACTITIONERS–RENAMING AS MASSAGE THERAPISTS EFFECTIVE DATE: 7/1/2017

AN ACT Relating to changing the words “massage practitioner” and 2 “animal massage practitioner” to “massage therapist” and “animal 3 massage therapist

2017 – present: AMTA-WA participated in rule making workshops with Board of Massage to clarify massage practitioner rules (Chapter 246-830 WAC)

2019 – WA Massage Alliance for Health (first PAC in the massage profession) was closed.

2020June Legislative Update from Government Relations

2020August Legislative Update from Government Relations

2021January Legislative Update from Government Relations : Rule Changes

2022 – Chapter Membership at 4,654

See also this Video from a presentation