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What does a massage therapist's license or certification mean?

Background: I have been trained in massage therapy to include Deep Tissue, Sports, Swedish, Pressure Point Theory, Hot Stone Therapy and Reflexology massage. I’ve have been a full time massage therapist for more than 10 years with reoccurring training. I'll leave it to each person to draw their own conclusion as to what a license or certification means about any massage therapist. The bottom line is that a good recommendation from a therapist's clients actually says more than any piece of paper.

Laws: According to <http://www.massageregister.com/StateRequirements.asp>, there are no state requirements and regulations in effect in Oklahoma. However, this does NOT necessarily imply that there are no laws in effect at all.

License: A license means that a massage therapist has met the requirements and paid the fee to legally practice massage in that area. In some places the massage is regulated by the state, others are regulated by the town or municipality. Many places have no licensing requirements. To get a license, a massage therapist will usually have to have a minimum amount of hours of training at an accredited or accepted school or training center. This varies widely, from 100 hours in some places to over 1000 hours in others.

Certification: It means that the therapist has successfully passed a specific course or test and been granted a certificate to bear out that fact. This may range from courses in pregnancy and neo-natal massage, to different modalities like Rolfing or Heller work. There is also a written national certification test for massage therapists.

Ask a group of massage therapists about licensing and certification, and you'll get a never ending argument among them. Some are insistent that licensing and certification are a necessary protection for the public to ensure that every massage therapist has the correct training in massage methods, ethics, contraindications of massage, and understands all the local laws pertaining to massage in their area. Others are just as vociferous that licensing and certification are tools of those who would attempt to control the industry so that they can maximize their profit from it, driving up the prices for everyone, driving therapists out of business, and providing no real protection for consumers. Learning facts and passing a written test says nothing about a massage therapist's palpitation skills, interpersonal skills, personal ethics, or anything else that can't be measured on a written test. Some states that license do insist on an actual evaluation massage before granting that license.

 

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