Minnesota Massage Therapy State Licensure
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) would like to take a moment to clarify an apparent misunderstanding that has been circulating on social media, of the AMTA's position on Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) in pending state legislation. Unfortunately, as is too often the case with social media posts in today's world, those messages are not accurate.
THE AMTA'S POSITION: The AMTA is not trying to make it illegal for Asian Bodywork Therapists (ABT) to practice without a massage license.
The AMTA is not pushing the inclusion of ABT in the massage therapy bill.
At the same time, the AMTA is attempting to advance OUR massage therapy bill while responding to the concerns of the regulatory agencies and the threat from an ABT professional in our state to fight against our bill if separate, full licensure for ABT was not included in our bill.
THE AMTA'S EFFORTS TOWARD LICENSURE
The AMTA, along with many other stakeholders, has been working to pass a statewide massage therapy licensure bill for many years, as Minnesota is one of only three states without any form of regulation.
During this process the Asian bodywork profession has been very involved in making certain that ABT is included in our legislative efforts.
Regulatory authorities expressed concerns to the AMTA last summer about the inclusion of ABT in the legislation because of the low numbers of ABT professionals practicing in Minnesota as compared to massage therapists and other licensed professionals in our state.
EFFORTS TO ADDRESS ABT IN THE BILL
While we were working with American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) on a solution, an ABT professional reached out to the Minnesota House legislative author of the massage therapy draft legislation advocating ABT's inclusion in the bill. The bill's author asked the AMTA to come up with an alternative approach to address the concerns raised. This alternative approach would have allowed for an ABT practitioner to be "endorsed" as an ABT under licensure as a massage therapist, and allowed for existing practitioners to be grandfathered into licensure. This concept was included in a preliminary draft of the bill sent to key stakeholders for input.
AOBTA'S REQUEST TO REMOVE ABT "ENDORSEMENT" LANGUAGE
Key stakeholders met in December 2020.
A representative from the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA) requested that the ABT endorsement language be removed.
AMTA sent that request back to the House author who agreed that the endorsement language should be removed from the final draft.
Unfortunately, rather than share any concerns directly with us or coordinate a response with the AOBTA, an individual ABT practitioner independently responded to the draft through social media posts. This communication has led to misinformation about the bill, the process, and the legislative author's intent-all unfortunate considering the preliminary draft language was shared with the intent of addressing concerns of stakeholders.
CONCLUSION: Although the endorsement language has been removed, the AMTA has attempted and continues to advance OUR bill while responding to the concerns of the regulatory agencies and the threat from an ABT professional to fight against our bill if separate, full licensure for ABT was not included in our bill. We will continue to work with the legislative authors to advance the massage therapy licensure legislation. At this point, a decision remains to be made whether to either 1) include ABT in the bill with required separate statewide licensure for ABT distinct from massage therapy; or 2) to proceed with a bill that focuses only on massage therapy and includes no reference to ABT. It is our understanding that the AOBTA will support either of those options. We hope this clarifies the AMTA position and addresses your concerns.
UPDATED JANUARY 11, 2021
45 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands require massage therapists to be licensed, with
California maintaining a voluntary credential. Each individual state has the sole authority to license
massage therapists in their jurisdiction in accordance with local law and established national standards
and practices of the profession. In every instance of licensing, states and territories have developed a
clear set of standards and established a precise number of educational hours for a massage therapist to
gain licensure that are consistent with the best available data and research pertaining to the massage
A Licensing Bill creates a uniform scope of practice, place Minnesota on par with neighboring states and would also reduce the administrative and financial burdens massage therapists currently face from the patchwork of regulations through needing to comply with multiple city ordinances and regulations across Minnesota. A bill would provide municipal leaders with clear direction on who is eligible to practice and subsequently increase licensure portability outside of the state. Licensure provides protection for both the public and the industry, setting us apart from those elements who seek to corrupt the good name of massage and have the following impacts:
The absence of a license means that massage therapy is essentially an unregulated and largely
unrecognized profession within Minnesota. The absence of statewide license also does nothing
to prevent an individual who behaves in an inappropriate manner to move to another
municipality if a complaint is filed against them.
Allowing massage therapy professionals, who so chose, to participate in health care discussions
through the benefit of a legally defined scope of practice.
Ensuring practice act protection as Minnesota is currently one of only four states where anyone
can state that he or she is a massage therapist regardless of their actual training, length of
experience or competence without fear of legal repercussions.
Licensure for the massage therapist is a critical effort for the industry and one our organizations have
collectively been working on for decades. Please join us in increasing standards, implementing enhanced
protections and supporting licensure for all massage therapists within Minnesota!
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