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History of the Shiatsu Therapy Association of Ontario



The S.T.A.O. officially began its existence with incorporation as a non-profit organization in Ontario in August 1983 after a long period of dreams, discussions, debates and lots of hard work. 

In early 1982, students at Kikkawa College who were nearing graduation joined with already established shiatsu therapists to set up an association. Many meetings were held to discuss issues such as the name of the association, objectives and membership requirements. 

At this time, the Government of Ontario announced that it would be reviewing legislation governing health care in Ontario. It was decided that shiatsu therapists should make a submission and seek licensing. This decision was a powerful stimulus to the creation of the S.T.A.O. since everyone realized that a submission would have to come from a unified group to have any validity. 

Finally in August 1983, word came that the S.T.A.O. was a legally existing body. The first formal general meeting with 22 members was then held to elect the first board–Norman Feldman, President; Mitsuki Kikkawa, Vice-President; Linda Cuan Lim, Secretary; Kensen Saito, Treasurer; Alf Walker, Ann Smith-Beckett, and Lawrence Martin (replaced by Diane Bruni when he moved to Edmonton), Directors.

The aims and objectives of the S.T.A.O. were to: 
· establish shiatsu licensing under the Drugless Practitioners Act (replaced in 1994 with the Regulated Health Professions Act, RHPA)
· educate the public to the value of shiatsu
· provide educational information to members
· establish and maintain association standards



These years were pivotal for the S.T.A.O. Our original goal of becoming an independently regulated profession was challenged by the possibility of establishing a combined College of Massage and Shiatsu under the proposed new legislation (RHPA). 

The membership adopted the principle that shiatsu therapists needed to maintain an independent identity both as a profession and as an association. 

The association was restructured to emulate a regulated profession:
· the constitution and by-laws were overhauled 
· membership categories and requirements were refined
· the registered trademark “CST” (Certified Shiatsu Therapist) was formally adopted
· official minimum education standards were established
· entrance examinations were implemented for 1992 applicants
· duties and protocols for the new Complaints and Discipline Committees were formalized



During these years, more changes were made to support our focus on regulation. Professional Liability Insurance became a requirement for CSTs and the Scope of Practice was approved for insurance purposes. The board was restructured, to better serve a growing organization, to a four-person executive and three directors. Continuing education seminars were held yearly and marketing efforts continued with redesigned brochures and Yellow Pages advertising. We started lobbying insurance companies to cover shiatsu treatments when done by a CST® (Certified Shiatsu Therapist™, practicing member of the S.T.A.O.).



After years of working from volunteers' homes, the S.T.A.O. obtained its own office space and secured a special phone number (416-923-STAO) and a toll free number (1-877-923-STAO) to increase exposure and accessibility to consumers outside Toronto. 

To reflect current regulatory requirements, and in order to ensure that graduates of all accredited shiatsu programs were eligible for membership in the S.T.A.O., the bylaw governing educational requirements for membership was amended. The S.T.A.O. entrance examinations were revised to reflect these changes. 

The association also:
· created an information package that is used to promote the S.T.A.O. and CSTs to consumers, insurance companies, health care professionals and government agencies. 
· initiated a consumer letter campaign
· completed form letters to insurance companies and human resources managers to assist in promoting the CST designation and to help obtain insurance coverage of shiatsu therapy when performed by a CST
· participated in the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association’s (CLHIA) annual conferences