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ABT Definition, Scope, & Profession
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About Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT)


ABT Definition

Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) is the treatment of the human body/mind/spirit, including the electromagnetic or energetic field which surrounds, infuses and brings that body to life, by using pressure and/or manipulation. Asian Bodywork is based upon Chinese Medical principles for assessing and evaluating the body's energetic system. It uses traditional Asian techniques and treatment strategies to primarily affect and balance the energetic system for the purpose of treating the human body, emotions, mind, energy field and spirit for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health.


ABT Scope of Practice

Methods of assessment and evaluation may include the Chinese Four Pillars of examination: observation, listening, asking and touching. Assessments are based primarily on Chinese Medicine parameters relating to the balance and circulation of the Five Essential Substances: Qi, Jing, Shen, Xue, Jin-ye.

ABT is one of the three branches of Chinese Medicine in which the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies people for entry level into the profession. Treatment may include, but is not limited to, the following: touching, pressing or holding of the body along meridians and/or on acupoints primarily with the hands, stretching, external application of medicinal plants or foods, heat or cold, and dietary or exercise suggestions. Cupping, guasha, moxibustion, and other methods/modalities may also be used by properly trained practitioners.

The Asian Bodywork Therapy Profession

Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) includes the energy-based bodywork therapies that originated in Asia and share a common Chinese Medicine foundation. These therapies are referred to as the ABT Forms.

The United States Department of Education recognizes Asian Bodywork Therapy as a distinct professional training program (Classification of Instructional Programs) and the established ABT professional entry-level curriculum specifically trains ABT professionals in the Chinese Medicine principles for assessing and treating the client's energetic system for the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health. This primary focus on treating the energetic system from a Chinese Medical perspective distinguishes it as a distinct professional scope of practice.

Sometimes, the training programs for other therapeutic bodywork professions may include instruction in some of the techniques unique to ABT Forms or in the basic principles of Chinese Medicine. This instruction may enable those practitioners to claim that they incorporate some techniques of an ABT Form or some principles of Chinese Medicine into their therapeutic bodywork or massage therapy practice, but it does not qualify them to claim that they practice any one of the ABT Forms or the ABT profession.

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