Congratulations to Ruth Duncan who was presented with an Oustanding Achievement Award at CamExpo by Leon Chaitow.

ruth2             ruth1

Not only has Ruth been busy voluteering at the Commonwealth Games this summer but she has written her first book – MYOFASCIAL RELEASE - available now!

She is in practice in Milngavie, Glasgow and can be contacted at The Natural Therapy Centre on 0141 956 4174 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ruth also has an article in this month's OTMS (Issue 59) on the 'Psoas'.


Why join the Scottish Massage Therapists' Organisation?

The Secretary of State has said that the SMTO is the pre-eminent Massage Organisation in Scotland and has given permission for us to use the word 'Scottish'. Here are at least 10 good reasons to join us!

  • The SMTO is all embracing - all Schools (private and government funded) are invited to affiliate and all Massage Therapists who are trained to the required professional standard are invited to apply. 
  • The SMTO works to improve standards. There are now national standards in Massage Therapies organised by the General Council for Massage Therapies. Professional organisations such as the SMTO uphold the standards of ethics and professionalism, as well as those of the actual practice of Massage Therapy.
  • The SMTO works to promote Massage Therapy by encouraging members to attend Health Shows and promotional events in Scotland, supporting them with promotional material. SMTO works nationally and internationally, giving talks, radio interviews and workshops.
  • The SMTO works to improve the image of Massage Therapy as it emerges as a safe and effective therapy. Some Massage Therapists are working in hospital settings, others in doctors’ surgeries and others work alongside other health care professionals in the sports field, in midwifery, paediatrics, psychiatry, hospice care and in care of the elderly and infirm and other healing environments. Others are promoting On-Site massage.
  • Membership is on the increase and as important contacts are made in the Massage Field around the world, the SMTO can be said to have its finger on the pulse of Massage Therapy worldwide.
  • We encourage:The SMTO provides a Register and a helpline so that members of the public can be referred to individual therapists in their area. This service is also on-line at
    • networking between Members
    • referrals via the Directory of Therapists which is generally available to the public and on-line
    • further education for Members - via workshops and seminars
    • joining the Complementary and Natural Health Care Council (CNHC)


  • Massage is becoming more and more popular as is seen by it now being offered in all fields of sport, including the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games. The SMTO contacts its Members when there are opportunities at Athletic Events to promote Sports Massage.
  • We assist Members in procuring advertising. Advertising can be difficult for Massage Therapists in some areas - we back our Members completely, contacting newspapers as necessary.
  • We work with national groups – the General Council for Massage Therapies, the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council. Paulo Quadros keeps us up to date with the Scottish Parliament – and needs help!
  • We generate publicity by supporting National Back Pain Week, for example, and supply posters for Members to use for advertising.

All Members are encouraged to advertise and generate publicity in their areas. The SMTO helps by providing posters, flyers and advice as necessary.

  • Support and advice is available both to members of the public who are considering Massage Therapy, as well as Therapists who require advice.


It is strongly suggested that therapists in the UK join a Professional Membership body, and adhere to the body’s Code of Conduct and Ethics. There are many organisations you can join within the UK, but SMTO is the only organisation based in Scotland for therapists working in Scotland. Because of this, we are a lot cheaper than the London based organisations. For example, our annual membership fee is just £50 compared to other UK wide organisations that range from £100+

The basic level of training that we ask for is 120 hours face-to-face attendance at a massage training course. In Scotland Level 3 Swedish Massage is the foundation to all the training. This takes therapists 120 hours + completion of homeworks and case studies at home. Written, oral and practical exams must also be passed to gain the Diploma in Swedish Massage. This level covers your basic Anatomy & Physiology (50-60 hours) along with the fundamental Swedish Massage techniques of effleurage, friction, petrissage and tapotement (60-70 hours). Therapists also learn consultation and treatment record skills.

Once therapists have qualified in Swedish Massage, they can then progress onto doing the Level 4 Remedial & Sports Massage course. This takes another 120 hrs of classroom teaching (split 50:50 A+P: practical massage) but also has a 100 hour log of massage work, some of which is supervised. There is also homeworks and case studies to be done at home, and of course the written, oral and practical exams required to be passed to qualify in the Diploma in Remedial & Sports Massage. This level of training covers more in depth A+P, General assessment, Specific Assessments of joints, but also further techniques in Myofasial Release (MFR), Neuromuscular techniques (NMT), Soft Tissue Release (STR), Trigger Points (TPT), Muscle Energy Techniques (MET), and some mobilisations.

We also have a Level 5 Advanced Remedial Massage course (180 hours – split 50:50 A+P:practical massage) which takes training onto the realms of realigning joints, but without the high velocity thrusts that osteopaths and chiropractors use.

I have attached our new member application form. Because you have not trained here in the UK, you will also need to complete another application form that gives me details and breakdown of your training. You will also need to send me copies of your qualifications. In the UK we ask that all therapists hold a basic first aid certificate. There are several organisations that offer first aid training, including a local Massage school which regularly offers the training. It is open to other therapists and not just their students. Here is a link to their website

SMTO members are required to do a minimum of 18 hours cpd each year. The easiest way to get 15 of your hours is simply to attend our SMTO Conference, which we hold in March every year. Attendance will give you 15 hours. Then the balance can be made up of reading, watching training DVDs, researching a pathological condition or medication that a patient informs you of. I myself did a tax course when I first set up as a self-employed therapist.

As a SMTO member, we offer a discounted group insurance scheme run by Balens Insurance. Normal cost of insurance for a massage therapist is c.£98 per annum, however SMTO members receive their insurance at a reduced cost of £49 per annum currently.

The SMTO Membership Handbook advises you of our rules and regulations. Most of these are replicated across the whole of the UK.

I hope I have given you a small insight into SMTO and massage in Scotland.

If you wish to join SMTO please complete the 2 application forms below

SMTO Membership Application Form 

Non Affiliated School Form

SMTO Membership Handbook

SMTO Members Resources



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