July 2015 Educational Congress Co-sponsored by COMTA and AFMTE

Preconference Sessions – FREE Registration Compliments of COMTA

COMTA is proud to be a co-sponsor of the groundbreaking Educational Congress. In addition to the wonderful conference sessions planned (see the conference details on the AFMTE website), COMTA is providing a preconference day open to any schools wishing to participate, regardless of accreditation status. 

Wednesday, July 22nd

Morning Session 9:00 – 11:30 am

COMTA – Open Forum 
As the massage education community evolves, how can COMTA evolve? The Commissioners will discuss policies and new options for schools to have their curriculum recognized as meeting a national standard for massage therapy and bodywork. Come listen to their thoughts and ask your questions. Everyone is welcome, regardless of accreditation status. Complimentary registration for this session is offered by COMTA.

Afternoon Session 1:00 to 4:30 pm

“Matching Massage Education with Career Opportunities”
As massage becomes more widely utilized by clients and patients, career pathways and diversity of opportunities develop. Join us in a two-part discussion about how we can make better connections between the career options available and the education we offer to the next generation of therapists. Complimentary registration for this session is offered by COMTA.

Part I: “Is ‘Massage Franchise’ a Dirty Word?– Addressing a Gap between Massage Education and the New Frontier of Providers

Love them or not, franchise systems currently employ tens of thousands of massage therapists in locations all over the United States. In addition, there are countless unfilled positions available. Representatives from four franchise models (Massage Envy, Elements, Massage Heights and Massage Retreat and Spa) will provide overviews of their business models while inviting feedback from attendees. Discussion will include ways to bridge the gap between educators, administrators and the growth of franchises; sharing best practices to benefit the future of our profession.

Discussion to be led by Eric Stephenson.

Eric Stephenson

Eric Stephenson is the co-founder of imassage, Inc., an education and consulting company dedicated to extending the careers of massage therapists. He is an international lecturer and the Director of Education for Elements Massage, the second largest provider of massage therapy in the country. Eric helped guide the strategy with the team that created “The Elements Way”, a series of experiential touch points resulting in an overall net promoter score in 2014 comparable to brands like Apple, Amazon and Marriott.

Eric has been involved in the massage therapy profession since 1997, creating continuing education focused on career longevity for massage schools, spas and professional organizations. His presentations have included the American Massage Therapy National Convention, The International Spa Association Conference, The American Massage Conference, ONE Concept, The World Massage Conference, Esthetique Spa International Shows and AMTA state conventions.

Stephenson serves on the Board of Directors for the International Spa Association (ISPA), the largest professional spa association in the world headquartered in Lexington, KY.

In 2014, Eric co-founded Well World Group (, a consulting consortium working with some of the biggest names in the wellness industry.  This road warrior spends 35 weeks a year presenting to audiences nationwide. In his spare time, he works on becoming the fifth member of Van Halen.

Massage Envy: Gary Myers and Scott Hubert
Elements:  Eric Stephenson and Michele Maruniak
Massage Heights: Daniel Jaramillo
Massage Retreat and Spa: Lee Oberg

Part II: “What does ‘Placement’ mean for massage?”

A common misunderstanding about accreditation requirements is that massage therapy graduates have to work as full-time employees to be counted as “placed” in the field. Hear directly from accrediting agencies about their perspectives on placement requirements and how graduates who start their own independent businesses, or work part-time, can still be considered a favorable outcome for accredited schools.

Speakers: Representatives from ABHES, ACCET, ACCSC, ACICS, COE, COMTA, NACCAS

All Educational Congress sessions, including these preconference sessions, will be held at The Commons Hotel in Minneapolis, MN. Please see the AFMTE website for details about the hotel room block and the full conference schedule. Looking forward to seeing you there!