ISMETA: A Brief History
The Formation of a Professional Organization:
The International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA)
ISMETA was first formed in 1988 in California as the International Movement Therapy Association (IMTA) by a small team of people who shared the vision of Jim Spira, Ph.D., founding president from 1988 -1990. The goal was to establish a professional association for somatic practitioners who valued movement as a key force – emphasizing the importance of movement as an active method of working with the soma. This formation included a board of directors and an advisory council, by-laws, a not-for-profit membership organization, and a professional journal based in research. Jim Spira, Ph.D. began the association for the following reasons:
- There are fundamental underlying principles shared by somatic movement disciplines (and dance therapy)
- Any active movement discipline is distinct from the passive somatic disciplines — (tablework methods, bodywork, massage, chiropractic, etc.)
- Working together allows us to better reach the populations that can benefit from somatic movement approaches
- Better outreach to licensed professionals and insurance companies is possible
- The potential for cross-training amongst the somatic movement disciplines is tremendous.
- He wanted to leave a legacy to the field as he shifted into full-time work in psychology.
(Adapted from Personal Correspondence, August 2004)
Accomplishments of ISMETA under the guidance of each President
Jim Spira: (1988 – 1991) Director of Educational Therapy, Psychologist
- Enhanced communication amongst the disparate “active” somatic movement disciplines by establishing a professional organization, a registry, and the professional title of Movement Therapist with the U.S. Department of Labor.
- The acronym of IMTA-RMT (International Movement Therapy Association – Registered Movement Therapist) was copyrighted.
- An advisory council was established that included David Zemach-Bersin, Suzanne Youngerman, Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, and Neala Haze. (The advisory council grew to also include Judith Aston, Don Hanlon Johnson, Eleanor Criswell Hanna, Seymour Kleinman, Vivian Jaye, and Hubert Goddard.)
- Developed a professional journal published (1989 – 1991) as well as a brochure
- Over one hundred individual members were registered
- Training programs that included at least 500 hours of professional movement education were invited in as “Approved Training Programs.” including Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method, Laban/Bartenieff Studies, The Halprin’s Life/Art process taught at Tamalpa, and Spira’s own training program – Educational Therapy, among others.
Carlos Velazquez (1990 – 1992) Feldenkrais Practitioner
- Helped the main office to become settled on the East coast, and began the process of incorporating on the East Coast
- Recruited board members who were practitioners of Body-Mind Centering® and Laban Movement Analysis
- Initiated ISMETA newsletter, which included more governmental and organizational reporting, replaced the journal.
Sara K. Vogeler (1993 – 1998) Director of The NeuroMuscular Center
- Built up membership, improved response time, revised the organization’s name, and infused purpose and identity at the national level
- Established contact with somatic movement leaders in Toronto — Monica Gray, Rae Johnson, Paul Overly, Mari Namovski, and Susan Sinclair — set a model of regional exchange
- Evaluated each somatic discipline’s level of involvement with ISMETA
- Name changed to be more inclusive: The International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA)
- Created the option to be represented as a Registered Movement Educator as well as a Registered Movement Therapist.
Ellen Barlow (1998 – 2001) Teacher of Body-Mind Centering®
- Deepened the communication between individuals and organizations from different disciplines
- Defined the criteria for registration more fully and reached out to the practitioners for further self-definition
- Led the organization in the process of joining the Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practices
- The field became known as somatic movement education and therapy supported by the development of its scope of practice and ethical code
- Regular communication with offices in the United States Departments of Education and Labor.
- Led a period of language definition and collegial interaction with other professional organizations
- Development of Standards of Practice.
Joan Whitacre: (2001 – 2002) Body-Mind Centering Practitioner®
- Initiated ISMETA’s strategic planning process and greater growth for the organization.
Martha Eddy, Ed.D. (2002 – 2005) Director, SOMAction Movement Therapy Training at Moving On Center
- Guided development of promotional materials, and outreach within the somatic movement community and to the general public
- April 2004, ISMETA became incorporated in New York State and received its status as a 501c6 Trade Organization.
- Established the ISMETA Member Council which is comprised of one representative from each Member Organizations and approved training program
- Continued Outreach to other potential Member Organizations
- Along with other Board members, revitalized the ISMETA website
- Reinstated the ISMETA Newsletter
Mary Abrams (2005 – 2009) Previous Authorized Continuum Teacher
- Re-established, with participation of board member Megan Reisel, regular monthly ISMETA email newsletter publication
- Represented ISMETA on the Joint Government Relations Committee of the
Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations
- With detailed board support produced a celebration event for ISMETA’s 20th
Anniversary including the first ISMETA Membership Conference
- Updated, with support of board member Elisa Cotroneo, ISMETA By-laws and Scope of Practice
- Re-established Annual Membership Meetings and Membership Vote
- Actively recruited new board members and established regular rotation, building the board from three members to seven members
- Developed a grievance procedure with board participation
- Organized redesign of website with Megan Reisel overseeing process
- Established protocol for the Application Review Committee for reviewing and accepting Individual and Member Organization applications
- Established the position and hired ISMETA’s first Member Services and Communications consultant to oversee office
Elisa Cotroneo ( 2009- 2014 ) Independent Track
Coming soon….too busy growing to get to this
Mark Taylor ( 2014- current day) Director of BodyMindMovement
Teri Carter (2015-2016) Director Somatic Movement Arts Training
1 RMT could not be copyrighted because it is too generic a description