“Below the email notification the AOBTA today sent to its members regarding the uncertain future of the NCCAOM ABT Examination. The Wellspring School feels this is a huge step backwards for the field of Asian Bodywork. To lose this exam relegates Asian Bodywork Therapists back under the scope of practice of Licensed Massage Therapists.  While the latter designation may be considered appropriate for entry-level therapists, it definitely limits senior practitioners in this field. We recognize the challenge of the exam as it stands now for many new graduates in terms of the expense required to take it. It would be ideal if we could find a way to re-designate the exam at a lower cost for advanced standing in the field and position it as a high standard of achievement and differentiator for senior therapists. It is really important that AOBTA members take a moment to read the below and provide input to both the NCCAOM and the AOBTA. Note, the NCCAOM will continue to offer support and re-certification to those who are already Dipl. ABT’s.”  – The Wellspring School

Dear AOBTA® Members, On behalf of the AOBTA® Board of Directors, I am seeking members’ input regarding the NCCAOM ABT Certification Exam. At our convention in April, NCCAOM officials informed our Board that due to low numbers of applications for the exam, it may be discontinued. In a letter to the AOBTA® Board, dated May 20, 2011, Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, CEO, NCCAOM, confirmed in writing that, “…in order for us to meet essential psychometric standards there must be many more candidates taking the exam for the NCCAOM ABT Certification than has been the case in recent years.” In her letter, Dr. Ward-Cook goes on to say, “…the NCCAOM, as per its governance policy on retiring a certification program, is now in the process of gathering stakeholder input about possible issues that may arise as a result of retiring the ABT certification.” She further states that, “During the coming six to nine months the NCCAOM expects to continue to gather input from all stakeholders, not just the AOBTA. We will be taking into account existing state regulations about licensing when making the final decision as to the retirement of the (NCCAOM) ABT certification program.”

In a letter of response to the NCCAOM, the AOBTA® Board stated the following position, “We do wish to confirm that the AOBTA® board firmly believes that an ABT certification program is a valuable cornerstone of our profession, as evidenced by our constant and consistent support of the credential since its inception. AOBTA® members have made a significant financial investment in the certification credential and the AOBTA® as an organization has invested significant financial and other resources in promoting it. The AOBTA® has also been the primary advocate for the ABT certification program in the state regulatory arena. It is our hope that the ABT certification can continue as a viable and valuable credential to current Dipl. ABTs and to those who are yet to enter the ABT certification pathway.” The AOBTA® Board wishes to inform members of this impending development and requests your input as to how the retirement of the NCCAOM ABT Exam would affect you and your practice, and any other ramifications that you perceive.

In her letter, Dr. Ward-Cook specifically suggested, “We encourage the AOBTA Board of Commissioners [sic] and its AOBTA members to continue to provide the NCCAOM with input regarding this very important and difficult decision. Please direct any input your organization wishes to send to my attention at or send a letter to Dr. Kory Ward-Cook, CEO, NCCAOM, 116 South Laura Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202.”

On behalf of the AOBTA® Board, we encourage you to share your comments and concerns on this matter. Please write or email Dr. Ward-Cook and send a copy to AOBTA® at This will help us to continue to clarify our position and our focus as an organization on how we can best strengthen and support our professional certification. Your input is greatly appreciated, and could have a profound and direct impact on the outcome of this matter. Thank you for your participation. – Matthew Sweigart AOBTA® Director of Education.


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