“Asian bodywork massage therapy,” also called ABT, is a term used to describe a wide range of manual (and sometimes mechanical) treatments to the human body. As with most forms of Asian healing, Asian bodywork therapy treats not just the body, but a person’s mind and spirit, and helps one achieve optimal health on a variety of levels.
All forms of ABT involve touching to some degree. Some forms are more comprehensive than others. Some therapies involve only light touching on various pressure points or regions of the body; others may involve specific motions along specific parts of the body at specific times, and may include the use of herbs, applications of cold and heat, and stretching.
When performing Asian bodywork, a practitioner will first assess a patient’s condition before determining a proper form of care. Most assessments are based on traditional Chinese medicine principles. In addition to bodywork, many ABT practitioners may also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes, and specific exercises designed to promote health and enhance wellness.
Although Asian bodywork therapy has existed at least as long as – and perhaps longer than – acupuncture and herbal medicine, it has come to be a recognized form of traditional Chinese medicine only recently. In 1996, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) developed the first certification program in Asian bodywork therapy, due in large response to members of the Oriental medicine profession. The NCCAOM now offers a written comprehensive examination in Asian bodywork therapy, in addition to its existing exams on acupuncture and herbal medicine.