Founded in 1979 under the name Association provinciale des masseurs et massothérapeutes, the Fédération québécoise des massothérapeutes (FQM) was created at a time when the Montreal police force’s morality squad associated massage with prostitution and erotic massage parlours and when most Quebec municipalities refused to give people with massage therapy training the right to practice.
Even in the years after its inception, the FQM was obliged to prove to governments and professional associations that it was capable of supervising its members with a code of ethics that drew a sharp distinction between massage therapy and erotic massage.
The period from 1979 to 1989 was marked by a growth in massage therapy in Quebec, with forerunners circling the globe for new approaches and introducing them in Quebec. Among these were polarity, Esalen, Californian, TragerMD and shiatsu.
This period also saw the proliferation of massage therapy schools. These schools would go on to play an important role in the development of alternative health approaches in Quebec, for it was here that the profession came into its own as well as integrated international currents.
In 1985, the FQM succeeded in establishing its credibility and, by extension, that of therapeutic massage by establishing a mandatory 1,000-hour training profile for persons intent on obtaining the title of massage therapist. Over the years, the FQM would add fresh content to the basic profile, including content on anatomy, sexual ethics, professional ethics and helping relationships.
Starting in 1992, the FQM set out to promote massage therapy and help members further their careers. A great deal of energy was invested in publicly promoting massage therapy from an FQM member and highlighting the guarantee of quality and safety that membership confers.
In this spirit, the FQM sought to heighten its public profile by teaming up with major annual events such as Massage d'espoir (Massage of hope) in support of Leucan in 1992, 1993 and 1994. These fundraising activities succeeded in raising close to $250,000 in support of Leucan activities, including in-hospital massage therapy for children with cancer.
In 1996, the FQM innovated with the creation of Semaine de la massothérapie FQM (FQM Massage Therapy Week), an annual promotional campaign for members. This activity is intended to promote massage therapy with the public, consolidate the FQM’s reputation, and break into the market for chair massage in the business community.
In September 2005, the Fédération introduced its new training profile in FQM-accredited schools. This new program is consistent with the movement toward competency-based training programs both in Canada and United States. Once again, the FQM showed its leadership by spearheading this “reform” of the practice of massage therapy in Quebec. In June 2006, the appointment of a new executive director spurred further reform in several areas. After consulting its membership, the Fédération acted by replacing the FQM entrance exam with a coaching: certification of competencies session intended to validate the competencies of future members.
Starting in early 2008, the trademark of "massothérapeute agréé"® was extended to all members of the Fédération québécoise des massothérapeutes. With this innovation, the FQM recognized that professional certification is widely seen as a byword for professionalism, quality and rigour.
The Fédération is the only accreditation body for massage therapy schools in Quebec. In 2008, the FQM worked jointly with schools to set up a major quality network composed of 17 FQM-accredited massage therapy schools. To obtain accreditation, a school must make a commitment to comply with the agreement protocol, and to ensure program quality, an expert from the FQM analyzes the training programs, course outlines and the teaching credentials of the professors in the schools.
In 2009, the FQM marked its 30th anniversary on a high note. After all these years, the Fédération remains the most credible organization with official authorities and — above all — the largest professional association in Quebec representing only massage therapists.
In 2010, the Fondation québécoise de la massothérapie FQM was born. Its mission is to contribute to the health and quality of life of people living with cancer, including the elderly and their caregivers.