AMTA OR Newsletter Summer 2020

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Editor’s & President’s Note:


Aaron Gustafson, LMT, CAMT II, President & Digital Media Production/Newsletter Editor AMTA-OR

-In this Issue: The times, they are a-changin’!  Changes in the AMTA-OR Board, changes in our profession, changes in our culture.  This is my first newsletter as both President and newsletter editor, and I want to let you know the AMTA Oregon Board is here to listen, learn, work, and grow with you!

I didn’t expect my first months as President of the AMTA Oregon Chapter to look like this.  When I put my hat in the ring as a candidate, I was looking forward to steering the boat that past president Mark Retzlaff had piloted so well.  Now it feels like I’m a salvage diver hoping to rescue as much of the boat and cargo as possible after crashing into the COVID-19 shore.  Mark and Gamble had loaded the ship with the 2020 convention and tons of hard work, and we were so disappointed to not get to gather with you all.

I’d also like to announce that Mark Retzlaff is being awarded our Chapter Meritorious Award, which he would have received at the 2020 National Convention in Phoenix this August (Cancelled) for his outstanding volunteer contributions to our chapter and the Oregon Massage Community.  I am absolutely blown away by watching how Mark stepped to the plate and hit it out of the park as an ongoing advocate and resource for LMT’s during the COVID-19 pandemic.  He continues to hit it out of the park in this newsletter with the Government Relations Report, with important updates and resources for those navigating reopening, plus thoughtful reflection on our profession and Black Lives Matter.  I only hope to hold a candle to Mark’s work during my term, and will wrap this up as he’s done the heavy lifting once again.

Also in this issue:

Events Update


Education Update

Thank you to all those who cast their vote for me, I look forward to being of service.  I do wish I had new photos and video to share relevant to our work, but that didn’t work out during quarantine.  I did leave the 2019 Convention playlist at the bottom if you want to get your massage geek on.

Wishing us all health and a safe return to contributing the work we love to our community.

Take good care,

Aaron Gustafson, AMTA OR President & Editor



AMTA Nationals has prohibited all in person National Board and Chapter Board meetings and events until the end of November 2020.

We look forward to having updated information about when we can hang out together again in our September Newsletter.

We miss you!

Keep your finger on the pulse of coming board meetings and CE opportunities with our click here: Events Calendar


Elections came to a close in April. Here’s the new line-up of the AMTA Oregon Board Click here to read their Bios:

President: Aaron Gustafson LMT, CAMT II

Secretary: Amie McCormick LMT

Treasurer: Christina Weber LMT

Board Member & Communications Chair: Kelly Cormier

Board Member, Education Chair and Delegate: Lowell Welch.

Government Relations Chair: Mark Retzlaff

Thanks to all who voted!


Important Links:


-Get the Oregon Board of Massage Therapists Boarderline newsletters by clicking here.


AMTA-OR Government Relations Report:

Mark Retzlaff LMT, AMTA-OR Chapter Government Relation Chair

There’s a lot to update here! I want to make sure that you all have all the relevant documents from OBMT and OHA, so I will provide a brief overview of major developments and LOTS of links.

As of Friday, June 19th, all counties have reopened massage therapy services. So-called “non-medical massage” must follow additional guidelines from OHA that are available here

OBMT created a document with additional clarification about offering water, record keeping, “capes” for clients (not required for massage therapy), “smocks” for therapists (not required, but you must change any clothing that comes into contact with a client), and shared bathrooms. 

There was a question at the last OBMT meeting whether the board could make the OHA guidelines apply to all massage performed by LMTs. It appeared that the board wanted to make the guidelines apply to both “medical” and “non-medical” massage to avoid having two distinct sets of regulations, but as of this moment, there has been no follow up. Documents from OHA continue to refer to “non-medical massage”, implying that “medical massage” is not impacted. “Medical massage” is defined (according to this statement from OBMT) as “massage that a physician or someone authorized to prescribe massage in the State of Oregon for medical purposes has recommended to occur for the health of the patient.”

For those who did not read the post on Facebook (follow us for more frequent updates), I was appointed to the workgroup that helped advise OHA and Governor Brown’s office on the creation of the guidelines. As I wrote in a letter to OBMT summarizing my involvement, the workgroup ended abruptly, and before I was satisfied with the guidance. Overall, I think OHA and Governor Brown are doing a reasonable job balancing the various interests regarding reopening. AMTA Oregon did not take a position about when massage therapy should open, but we did raise concerns about overall safety, availability of PPE, liability issues, and support for immune-compromised and high-risk people throughout the process.

Regarding liability coverage for COVID claims, AMTA recently released this video stating that there are no exclusions for infectious diseases. While every claim is evaluated on a case-by-case basis (and nothing is certain), this is the best information we have about your coverage in the event of a claim regarding COVID-19. Your best protection is following all local laws and regulations, creating business policies in writing, and documenting your practices thoroughly. Consider creating a sanitation checklist that you complete between each client. FSMTB has a set of recommendations that are worth reviewing as well (AMTA staff was consulted on the report). 

Finally, I would like to say a few words about Black Lives Matter and the massage community. The current moment calls each of us to raise our awareness, not just of violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), but of all forms of racism. The fact is that there is an underrepresentation of BIPOC in the massage profession, and especially in leadership positions. For example, neither your local chapter or the national board of directors currently have any BIPOC representation. In addition, in the last three years that I’ve programmed education events for the state chapter, I  failed to invite any speakers of color at our chapter education events, and we held no courses that focused on race or implicit bias. I take responsibility for my part in that – I know I could have done more with my platform. 

None of this was explicit exclusion, but I won’t excuse the problem by saying “no POC applied for the positions.” Institutional racism means that the deck is stacked against marginalized groups, and it’s not enough to just sit around and wait for equality to happen. We have to examine *why* inequities exist. We have to examine *implicit bias* and *institutional racism* that create artificial limitations and contribute to a culture that isn’t as inclusive as we want it to be. I’ve already written to the national board of directors asking them to commit to action on this issue. The Oregon board is discussing what we can do at the local level. Meg Donnelly, an LMT from Virgina, has assembled a great list of resources tailored for massage therapists, including this course on unconscious bias from Healwell (being offered for free through the end of July). Benny Vaughn, a massage therapy educator, created a video call-to-action that is worth your time as well.  

I am no longer Chapter President, but I will be a part of the change here. If you have suggestions, thoughts, or want to get involved, please reach out. My new email is, and Aaron is

Thank you,

-Mark Retzlaff


Education Update:

We’re looking forward to being in the classroom with you as soon as we can!

Announcing AMTA Oregon’s new Education Chair: Lowell Welch LMT:

Lowell will be working along with Aaron and Mark to explore what portions of the cancelled 2019 convention we may be able to offer as next year’s convention.  We will also be listening to you, learning and exploring what kinds of inclusive and cultural sensitivity trainings we would all like to see.  Know a great curriculum or teacher?  Bring them to our attention please @

Membership Update:

We’d like to thank Britney Von Trapp for her service as Membership Committee Chair.  Her term ended in April.

We are currently looking for a new Membership Chair and any volunteers who’d like to get involved with our Chapter.

Please reach out to let us know if you’re interested or have questions about serving @

Video: Playlist from AMTA OR 2019 convention.  6 videos from Fara Tucker, Cynthia Price,Tara McManaway, Michael Hamm and Tim Irving.

Just hit play and all 6 will run in order.  To skip around, click the little list icon in the upper right corner of the video.

Be sure you subscribe to our channel!

Thanks for getting all the way to the end of the newsletter.  We appreciate you!

Get to know and get in touch with your Oregon Board members by clicking here.

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