Elements of a Massage Therapy Practice Act

Learn what you must and should have in a baseline massage therapy practice act.

Must Have Elements of a Baseline Massage Therapy Practice Act

In order for the association (national or chapter) to support massage therapy legislation, the following content and practice conditions are must have elements of a baseline practice act:

  • At least the minimum scope of practice for massage based on a definition of those massage procedures which are observable by the common person (i.e., the physical action of the therapist touching the client is observable.)

  • A licensure qualification requiring successful completion of a professional course of study consisting of at least five hundred hours of in-class, supervised education authenticated by a single education provider, with content well distributed in the subjects of anatomy, physiology, hygiene, ethics, massage theory and research, and massage practice.

  • A licensure qualification that requires passing an examination that has met national accreditation standards and which is administered by a recognized body independent of the education provider, with content that covers the subjects in a professional course of study, as described above.

  • Authority, which may be tacit, of licensees to practice within the scope of massage therapy practice, free from any requirement to obtain any other occupational license.

  • Powers and duties of the massage therapy regulatory agency which are customary for the regulation of other healthcare professions in the state.

  • Disciplinary and penalty provisions which are customary for the regulation of other healthcare professions in the state.

  • An authoritative or advisory board of massage therapy, with a majority comprised of massage therapists, and special provisions for the initial appointment of qualified massage therapists as board members whose terms will begin before any licenses have been issued.

Should Have Elements of a Baseline Massage Therapy Practice Act

The association advises chapters that the following content and practice conditions are should have elements of a baseline practice act:

  • A means of recognizing, for the purpose of licensure, a valid license held by a practitioner that has been granted by another state government.

  • Exemption from licensure for any person whose practice is not conducted in a way to imply that it is the practice of massage therapy and who does not hold out to the public that their practice is massage therapy.

  • Free from any requirement to obtain an establishment license not required of other state licensed healthcare practitioners.

  • Permission for visiting massage therapists from other states, who may not be licensed by the subject state, to practice massage therapy in the context of timelimited events on a pro bono basis or in the course of instruction.

  • Waiver of education and examination provisions for any practitioner seeking licensure who can establish that their occupational practice began by the date the legislation is passed.

  • An effective date for the licensure requirement which is at least one year from the time the legislation is passed.

  • Pre-emption of local regulation that would in any way treat massage therapy differently from local regulation of other healthcare professions.

  • Inclusion of the following Suggested Movement Practices Exemption Language:

Nothing in this Article shall be construed to prevent or restrict the practice of any person in this state who uses touch, words and directed movement to deepen awareness of existing patterns of movement in the body as well as to suggest new possibilities of movement while engaged within the scope of practice of a profession with established standards and ethics, provided that their services are not designated or implied to be massage or massage therapy. Such practices include, but are not limited to the Feldenkrais Method of somatic education, the Rolf Institute’ s Rolf Movement Integration, the Trager Approach to movement education, and Body-Mind Centering. Practitioners must be recognized by or meet the established standards of either a professional organization or credentialing agency that represents or certifies the respective practice based on a minimal level of training, demonstration of competency, and adherence to ethical standards.