Massage License Portability or the ability to move to other states as a massage therapist is a challenging issue. Licensing Laws for being a massage therapist differ state to state, making it difficult to move about the country and practice as a massage therapist. People coming from other countries have their own challenges.
Our state licensing laws have such different scope of practice laws. The number of hours of education and the content of the educational material varies from state to state. Schools are regulated differently by state with some having to be approved by their state and some not.
Our laws requiring establishment licensing are confusing and add to the problem of being associated with illegal massage businesses (aka prostituted doing business as massage therapists.)
The Massage Profession is currently working on the issue of license portability. The Federation of Massage State Boards along with the Department of Defense is working to create a Compact Licensing. The National Center for Interstate Compacts, Council of State Governments is coordinating the project. The video below is their first meeting explaining what will happen.
Scope of Practice of Massage Therapy.
One of the main problems is that the scope of practice in each state varies greately. Ideally, massage licensing should allow massage therapists to easily move from state to state to live and work. Model licensing language should be created for all states to follow and adopt. The Federation of Massage State Boards have created a model licensing act in 2014(PDF), but is under scrutiny by the profession (Schools and associations). It is at least a start.
Rick Rosen has propsed this as scope of practice definition taken from Laura Allen’s Blog :
PRACTICE OF MASSAGE THERAPY. A healthcare service of the healing arts provided to clients by a person who is licensed pursuant to this Act.
(1) The practice includes:
(a) Assessment of the functional and structural characteristics of the myofascial network and related systems of the body through tactile, visual and verbal methods;
(b) Treatment of the myofascial network and related systems of the body using manual methods, or by mechanical or electrical devices or tools that emulate or enhance the action of human hands;
(c) Active or passive movement of the body within the normal anatomical range of movement;
(d) Application of lubricants and other topical agents to the skin;
(e) Use of hydrotherapy and other adjunctive methods to produce therapeutic effects;
(f) Client education to facilitate body awareness and self-care;
(g) Treatment planning, communicating or collaborating with massage therapists and other licensed healthcare providers, and engaging in research, teaching and administration.
(2) Primary areas of application for massage therapy include:
(a) Wellness/Stress Reduction: treatment that supports the general health and well-being of the client, facilitates the relaxation response, addresses patterns of chronic tension related to stress, reduces pain and discomfort, promotes a more positive sense of self;
(b) Corrective/Rehabilitative: treatment that addresses specific symptoms or conditions, provides rehabilitation from the effects of injury, trauma or surgery
(c) Performance Optimization: treatment that improves the performance of specific activities or occupations, facilitates postural alignment and more efficient ergonomic patterns of use;
(d) Palliative: treatment for clients in recovery from illness or in the end stage of life that focuses on providing psychosocial support and relief from discomfort;
(e) Integrative: treatment that promotes awareness of the connections within the physical, cognitive and emotional aspects of the client, as well as treatment in conjunction with other licensed medical or mental health providers in a coordinated plan of care.
(3) The practice does not include:
(a) The diagnosis of illness or disease;
(b) Medical procedures, high-velocity low-amplitude chiropractic adjustive procedures, or prescription of medicines.
(d) The use of modalities for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture or podiatry is required by law; or
d) Sexual activity of any kind.
- Contact your Massage State Board to keep up to date on the work of the project.
- AMTA and ABMP are the two main massage associations that should be involved in the project.