To Regulate or Not To Regulate

By Sharon Lively

As a massage therapy instructor, I encourage massage therapy students to become nationally certified as I’ve seen many changes in state regulations over the years.  There is an increasing urgency to become nationally certified. Becoming nationally certified will keep you current in your skills and up to date on current events. Also, having to complete CEU’s (continuing education units) to comply to sustaining membership allows you to expand and add a higher standard of excellance.  Below are the two current national certification organizations that offer national certification at this time.   Presently, Oklahoma does not have any regulations, which means the cities license therapists.  Some cities’ laws are old and outdated.  Nonetheless, they are the law and must be followed.  To the left you can see a map that indicates the only cities in Oklahoma that require some type of licensure.  Below you can find a website that offers more detail on each city in Oklahoma that has regulations.  As you can see there is an imminant need to unify requirements throughout our state.  Doing this will provide a stable safe envirnoment for massage clients to receive bodywork from therapists who are invested in quality care. 

As an example, one of the leading massage therapy organizations (AMTA) is seeking amendment to a part of legislation American Massage Therapy Associationpresented this year by the physical therapy organization to make sure that it does not affect massage therapists in a negative way.  Legislation has been passed, but the State House of Representatives is holding off taking action mostly because of AMTA-OK’s expressed concerns. This is why regulations need to be uniform nationally, so that little bitty laws don’t cause such a large concern.

Forty states at this time have active legislation to regulate massage therapy.  Of those forty, six have passed legistlation in the past four years.  In the Oklahoma vacinity, Arkansas, Texas, and Missouri require a license and Kansas is in the process of submitting legislation.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma has a jumbled mishmash of city ordinances.  The majority have been in place for numerous years and deal mostly with curbing prostitution instead of recognizing and supporting those who have the education or professional experience.  This lack of law makes the possbility of client neglect and abuse that much more likely.

An obvious next step in your massage career would be to join a national massage organization.  You will receive a lot of perks by joining.  You will acquire liability insurance that covers possible malpractice claims.  New people moving to the area that are looking for bodywork commonly consult these organization for established members.  Joining also give you access to their database of CEU providers.  Two of the leading organizations, AMTA and ABMP, both publish wonderful magazines full of the latest information.  AMTA publishes “Massage Magazine” monthly and ABMP publishes their “Massage & Bodywork” bi-monthly. Personally, I subscribe to both magazines (and have for years) even though I am a member of ABMP. You need to research the various organizations and decide for yourself which one has the best fit .

Challenge Question:

1.)  Pick your favorite state

2.)  Go  to this link.  Scroll down to the bottom left side and click on any state and it will give you a basic rundown of their state regulations.

If you need more information I recommend a Google Search with the following words : Massage+ Ordinance+”state looking into”

3.)  Tell us what your favorite state requires


Go the attached website.  It will offer you  a table in .pdf file format  that can be printed off, of all state regulations.

Go to the website to find the address and any contact information for any massage therapy related state organization.  This site is great if you move and want to know what is required for you to practice legally in that state.

Tulsa’s website for the laws regarding massage regulations:

Application of massage for City of Tulsa:

Addional References:

Additional help and writing by Ross Ashcraft

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