License to Kill Stress: A View of Massage Therapy Certification
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of massage therapists is expected to grow by 20% and add over 30,000 jobs by 2020. These figures, above the average growth rate of all other occupations, testify to the flourishing popularity of massage therapy. Once seen as either a luxury reserved for the pampered spendthrift, professional massage therapy has fully entered the mainstream and enjoys widespread social acceptance. Today, nearly anyone can receive a massage at the thousands of operating spas, gyms, and clinics dotting the country. The optimistic projections by the BLS suggest that many more massage centers will be opening in the near future.
Indeed, the speedy growth and warm acceptance of massage therapy occupations might encourage consumers to seek out any kind of massage therapy uncritically. However, with the rise in legitimate massage therapists comes the rise of fraudulent, ill-trained, and uncertified massage therapists who, instead addressing patients’ physical and psychological needs, are looking only to make a quick (and illegal) buck. This article details briefly the strict requirements needed to practice massage therapy legally, so you can have the knowledge to find an appropriate and certified therapist.
Generally, state and national agencies regulate massage therapy occupations quite thoroughly. Most states require that an individual complete several hundred in-class hours at an accredited institution, have passed one of several national certification exams, acquire state certification, maintain specific continuing education requirements, and have malpractice insurance. The state of Florida honors these regulations. To become licensed massage therapist here, a prospective individual must do the following:
• be at least 18 years of age and complete high school or earn a graduate equivalency diploma (GED)
• complete a course of study at an institution approved by the Board of Massage Therapy, including a course on the prevention of medical errors, sometimes including a course concerning HIV/AIDS
• pass one of several national certification examinations, including
◦ the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB)
◦ the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
◦ the National Exam for State Licensure (NESL) as administered by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
◦ the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards
• submit an application and application fee
The time-frame to complete all these requirements is often between 500-1000 hours of class sessions, studying, examination, and practice. Only after certification from both a national body and the state can a person be legally permitted to practice massage therapy and use the title of “massage therapist.” And even after these requirements, all massage therapists are required to maintain continuing education of their field and regularly renew their licenses.
So if you are interested in receiving any kind of massage, here are some things to observe when seeking out a massage center or spa:
• The facility and all equipment (tables, tools, towels, etc.) should be impeccably clean. Since most massage therapy encourages the client to disrobe and necessarily requires the therapist to touch the client, a high standard of cleanliness should be nonnegotiable
• check where the resident therapist(s) received their training/study. Do not accept therapy from any therapist who did not train in an accredited institution. An institution that is not accredited is not recognized in providing desired educational standard. The National Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) is responsible for accrediting massage therapy programs
• check if resident therapists passed any one of the several national certification programs
• check whether there are any complaints filed against the massage therapists. Their licensure and any formal complaints against them are a matter of public record
You can check out Florida’s complete rules and regulations in the state’s Department of Health website, but the above information should keep all prospective clients well-equipped to dodge the quacks and charlatans riding on the coattails of legitimate massage therapy. The old adage remains: buyers beware. While massage therapy aims to relax, rejuvenate, and alleviate, clients definitely should not sleep on it.
This article was submitted by:
The Massage Center
Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Massage Therapists.” Occupational Outlook Handbook. 2012-2013 ed. U.S. Department of Labor, 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Jun. 2013.
Division of Medical Quality Assurance. “Massage Therapy.” Florida Department of Health. N.p., 20 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Jun. 2013.
Eisenberg, David, et al. “Credentialing Complementary and Alternative Medical Providers.” Annals of Internal Medicine 137.12 (2002): 965-973. ProQuest Central. Web. 19 Jun. 2013.