ABMP Calls for an Apology from Redbook for “Happy-Ending Massage” Article

In response to Redbook’s recent article, “I Get Happy-Ending Massages and It Helps My Marriage,” ABMP Vice President Communication calls for an apology to the profession for linking therapeutic massage and prostitution.

July 7, 2014

Attn: Jill Herzig, Editor-in-Chief
300 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

Dear Ms. Herzig:

No doubt you’re getting waves of response about your July 3 Redbook feature: “I Get Happy-Ending Massages and It Helps My Marriage,” as told to Anna Davies. How disappointing.

We represent a profession of more than 320,000 U.S-based massage therapists, more than 80,000 of whom are our members. They consider it offensive and dangerous when anyone—particularly the media—blends discussions about the massage therapy profession and the sex trade. Make no mistake, you’ve published a feature about a married woman who has retained a prostitute, not about a consumer of massage therapy.

Our members are specifically educated and dedicated to providing therapeutic massage services to their clients. About one-sixth of those are male professionals who admittedly already face gender-based challenges and must endeavor to break through barriers in this profession. You’ve succeeded in alienating them and building additional walls for them. You’ve also put up barriers for consumers who seek the many benefits of massage because you’ve questioned its safety. And you’ve endangered practitioners’ personal safety as ill-intended pseudo-clients seek to push the barriers of appropriate behavior in a bodywork session.

We look forward to an apology from Redbook to our members and to the massage therapy profession, and we’ll share that apology across all our social media outlets. Yours is an historic publication. We’d like to help you move forward with pride and accuracy, not sensationalism.


Leslie A. Young, Ph.D.

ABMP Vice President Communication or 303-679-7648/direct

Massage & Bodywork, Editor-in-Chief

NJ Bills Propose New Licensure Qualifications and Energy Work Exemption

Recently introduced NJ Assembly Bill 3469 and identical NJ Senate Bill 1608 propose to make two important changes to New Jersey’s massage therapy licensing law.

The current massage law requires that license applicants have either completed 500 educational hours in a massage program or passed a national massage exam.  The new bills propose to require that applicants have completed 500 educational hours in a massage program and passed a national massage exam.  This would apply to people applying for a license for the first time, not to people who already have a license.

The bills would also add new exemption language for energy work.  Specifically, the bills would exempt from the state licensure requirement any person who practices “techniques that involve structured touch or resting hands on the surface of the client’s body to affect the energy fields of the body, without delivering pressure or manipulating soft tissue, while the client is fully clothed.”

The bills are in the very initial stages of the legislative process. We will keep our members informed of the progress of these bills.

Colorado Massage “Registrations” are Now Called Massage “Licenses” Effective July 1, 2014

Under the new amendments to Colorado’s Massage Practice Act, starting July 1, 2014, the legal title for massage therapists in Colorado will change.  All “registered” Colorado massage therapists will now be called “licensed” massage therapists, and will have a massage license, not a massage registration.  This is simply a change in terminology; it does not affect any of the rights or obligations you have as a massage therapist in Colorado.  The change was made to reduce consumer confusion, since the majority of other states use the title “licensed massage therapist,” not “registered massage therapist.”

If you hold a current Colorado massage registration, you do not need to do anything because your registration will automatically convert to, and be considered as, a “license” on July 1, 2014.  As of July 1, you will be a “licensed massage therapist,” or LMT, not a “registered massage therapist.”  All first-time applicants will be applying for a “license,” not a registration.  The new law states that only a person licensed to practice massage therapy may use the titles “massage therapist,” “licensed massage therapist,” “massage practitioner,” “masseuse,” “masseur,” the letters “M.T.” or “L.M.T.,” or any other generally accepted terms, letters, or figures that indicate that the person is a massage therapist.  

All New Jersey Massage Licenses Must Be Renewed By November 30, 2014

We know that many of you have encountered significant delays and other frustrating obstacles obtaining your New Jersey massage licenses.  However, the New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy’s rules require that all massage therapy licenses must be renewed by November 30 of every even-numbered year.  This means that, no matter when you received your license, you must renew it by November 30, 2014.  The Board will be mailing renewal notices containing instructions on how to renew in late September (60 days prior to the November 30 renewal date).  The renewal fee is $120.

In March, ABMP submitted a formal request that the Board waive the continuing education (CE) requirements for this first renewal period given the delays and other problems that have occurred in the licensing process.  Unfortunately, the Board denied our request.  Therefore, licensees must meet the following requirements to renew in November:

If you received your license in 2012 or 2013:

  • You must complete 20 hours of CE by the time you renew;
  • Two of the hours must be in ethics;
  • Six of the hours can be earned in online courses; the remaining 14 hours must be earned in live, in-person classes;
  • The CE must be related to the practice of massage and bodywork therapy.  Business courses do not count;
  • The CE must be approved by, or offered by a provider approved by, one of the entities listed here, or given by a state-approved school, college, or university.
  • Your CPR/AED certification must also be current.

If you received your license in 2014:

 You must complete 10 hours of CE by the time you renew;

  • Two of the hours must be in ethics;
  • Six of the hours can be earned in online courses; the remaining 4 hours must be earned in live, in-person classes;
  • The CE must be related to the practice of massage and bodywork therapy.  Business courses do not count;
  • The CE must be approved by, or offered by a provider approved by, one of the entities listed here, or given by a state-approved school, college, or university.
  • Your CPR/AED certification must also be current.

You can also earn CE hours by teaching massage or authoring articles or textbooks.  Please review section 13:37A-4.2(a)(3)-(6) of the Board’s rules for more information.

In order for CE to be accepted for licensure renewal, the course must be taken during your licensing period. If you have applied for your license but have not yet received it, we recommend you wait to see if you receive your license before attending a CE course if you intend for that course to count for renewal.

You can locate CE courses by:

  • Searching on the internet by, for example, typing “New Jersey massage therapy continuing education” into Google.
  • Calling massage schools in your area to ask if they offer CE classes.  The school must be accredited or approved by the State of New Jersey.
  • Logging on to and clicking on the “Career Development” tab, then clicking on “On-demand CE Courses” under “ABMP Education Center” for online courses that will count toward the 6-hour limit for online CE.
  • Logging on to and clicking on the “Career Development” tab, then clicking on “Continuing Education (search classes)” under “ABMP Education Center” for live classes in your area.  Not all of the listed classes are approved by ABMP; therefore, you will need to confirm that the class is approved by ABMP or one of the other entities listed here.

The Board can grant a waiver of the CE requirement based on a showing of hardship such as severe illness, disability, or military service.  You must submit any waiver request in writing to the Board no later than 90 days prior to the renewal date.  The request must set forth in specific detail the reasons you are requesting a waiver and must attach supplemental materials supporting the request.  The Board has a great deal of discretion in deciding waiver requests, and you shouldn’t assume that your request will be granted.

Additional information concerning renewals is posted on the FAQ section of the Board’s website.

New Requirements for Massage License and Registration Applicants in Maryland

Maryland HB 1157, which we discussed in our February 2014 legislative update, has been signed by Governor O’Malley and is now state law.  The law goes into effect on October 1, 2014, and impacts only those people who receive their massage license or registration for the first time on or after October 1, 2014.  The changes made by the new law do not affect people who hold a current Maryland massage license or registration, or people who receive their license or registration between now and September 30, 2014.

The new law:

  1. Increases the number of hours required from an approved massage school from 500 hours to 600 hours, for both licensure and registration; and
  2. Specifies that the additional 60 hours that must be obtained from an institution of higher education in order to be licensed (but not registered) must now include at least 24 credit hours in basic and applied science courses related to health care, or 60 hours of general college credits in any subject and at least 24 hours of advanced massage therapy continuing education approved by the board.

If you have only 500 hours of massage education and have not applied for your license yet, you should apply now so that you receive your license before October 1, 2014 when the education requirement increases to 600 hours.

Maryland HB 401 has now been signed into law as well.  HB 401 requires that all massage license and registration applicants submit to a criminal history records check as part of their application.  HB 401 also takes effect on October 1, 2014.

CAMTC Sunset Hearing Report – March 11, 2014

A sunset review is a periodic assessment of state regulatory programs to determine whether or not they should be continued by the legislature. In 2008 the state legislature provided for the creation of a private, nonprofit corporation to issue voluntary certifications to qualified massage therapists. The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) was established in February 2009. It is often compared to state regulatory agencies but it is not actually part of government. When the law was established, the legislature inserted a Sunset date with the purpose of re-evaluating the effectiveness of the certification program, just as they do with state regulatory programs. Without legislative action, CAMTC and its voluntary certification program will Sunset on December 31, 2014.

The first step in the evaluation process is a Sunset Hearing. CAMTC’s Sunset Hearing was held on March 10, 2014. Bob Benson, Chairman of ABMP, and Jean Robinson, Government Relations Director, attended the hearing and testified. Legislative staff prepared in advance of the hearing a background report for legislators based on information provided by CAMTC and other stakeholders. ABMP also provided a pre-hearing letter to the Sunset Committee. Read ABMP’s submission here.

ABMP’s view of the evaluation

There have always been pros and cons to having a private nonprofit organization fulfill a role traditionally reserved for state agencies. Political realities in 2008 drove the process toward this model; no other massage therapy regulatory approach was likely then to gain state approval. ABMP has been deeply invested and involved in CAMTC since its inception by providing (along with other organizations) a loan for start-up costs and appointing engaged, informed, and active individuals to serve on the CAMTC Board of Directors.

ABMP feels that CAMTC has been a success overall. Consumers are served by being able to distinguish therapists who have been vetted against meaningful education and behavioral standards. Educated, law abiding massage therapists gain appropriate recognition. Profession standards are clearly being raised as required under the founding law. Add it all up; it’s a highly constructive step forward for California therapists and consumers.

That acknowledged, the private, voluntary regulatory model was initially regarded as a stopgap approach. In addition, CAMTC management has gotten too comfortable with some interim organizational approaches and has been resisting management improvements appropriate for an organization gearing up for a long run. Consistent with the findings in the Committee report, we think it’s now time for California to join with 43 other states and create a state entity to oversee the mandatory licensing of all massage professionals. While the voluntary model has generally been successful, because it is not mandatory there are still two sets of rules for practitioners (those certified and those not) and two sets of rules for businesses (those using all certified practitioners and those that don’t). That’s confusing both for the public and for local government officials. Regulation is more effective when it’s required, more helpful for both those audiences. Mandatory regulation should be overseen by a state board or state agency, a Board of Massage Therapists, to provide direction.

ABMP believes it is time for California to transition to a regulatory model that most professionals are familiar with, that facilitates national portability for practitioners, and that local jurisdictions are used to working with. CAMTC has given the state a great head start by currently certifying more than 45,000 massage professionals, each of whom has been rigorously screened.

As you can see from reading Bob Benson’s testimony at the Sunset Hearing, we believe it is time for CAMTC to take a victory lap but give way to a state Massage Therapy Board. ABMP was far from alone in expressing this view at the Sunset Hearing. The Legislative staff report concluded that “The Committee may wish to discuss the relative merits of continuing the non-profit model of regulation, deregulating the industry completely, or transitioning to a board or bureau overseen by DCA (the California Department of Consumer Affairs).” None of the principal organizations testifying argued for a return to complete deregulation at the state level, while several advocated for switching to a state board within DCA.

Going forward

ABMP’s support for a transition to state regulation is conditioned upon a transition process in which every individual with then currently valid CAMTC certification would automatically be granted a state license. We will work hard to ensure that this principle is ingrained in any reform approach.

This Sunset process will advance through multiple further steps during 2014. The end resolution is unclear. We will keep ABMP members informed throughout the process.


Jean Robinson
Director of Government Relations

California Bill is Amended

AB 1147 was amended on April 23, 2014 and will become the Sunset Committee bill moving forward. Legislation must pass this year in order to continue the statewide credentialing of massage therapists. Most importantly, if passed, the bill authorizes the continuation of statewide voluntary certification for massage therapists. In addition the bill does the following:

  • The California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) organization would be reauthorized until 1/1/2017.
  • Changes the composition of the CAMTC board of directors from a majority of board members appointed by the massage profession, to a composition slightly more consistent with a state board or agency. The future CAMTC board will be comprised of 4 members appointed by government entities, 3 public members, and 4 members from the massage profession.
  • Extends the statewide voluntary certification of massage therapists. The qualifications for CMT would change; all new applicants starting January 1, 2015, would have to meet a minimum 500 hour education requirement and pass an entry-level competency exam (such as the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx).
  • Phases out the massage practitioner tier of certification on 12/31/14, one year earlier than expected. Active CMP’s will be able to continue to renew every two years and keep their CMP status.
  •  Massage professionals currently holding an active conditional certified massage practitioner (CCMP) will be able to continue to work toward their CMP.
  • CAMTC would be authorized to adopt requirements for continuing education for renewal, including total number of hours, acceptable forms, and approval of CE providers.
  • CAMTC would be authorized to approve schools.
  • CAMTC would be authorized to certify “massage establishment operators” (person that manages the day to day operations at a massage establishment).
  • CAMTC would be authorized to register massage establishments on a voluntary basis. If a massage establishment chooses to register with CAMTC, the establishment would earn certain protections from local ordinances but may be required to register at the local level in addition to registering with CAMTC. The current exemption from local ordinances if a massage establishment uses all CAMTC certified individuals to provide massage would no longer be available. ABMP is working with legislative staff to clarify this part of the bill.
  • CAMTC would be required to submit a report to the legislature by June 1, 2016. The report would include a feasibility study of licensure for the massage profession (i.e. possible replacement of CAMTC by a state board or bureau) as well as performance metrics for the CAMTC organization.

ABMP was not shy in presenting our concerns about CAMTC to the Sunset Committee at the public hearing in March, or in comments prior to that hearing. The legislature has outsourced an important regulatory function to a private entity and now proposes to expand that authority in a massive way, despite the concerns expressed by ABMP and other organizations and individuals. We will continue to work with legislative staff to make the bill the best it can be despite our opposition to expanding CAMTC’s role.

The next bill hearing is scheduled for the Senate Business, Professions, and Economic Development Committee on June 23, 2014.

How the Bill Will Affect Individual Massage Professionals

AB 1147 amends the current state voluntary certification law that the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) administers for the state. CAMTC certification would remain voluntary under AB 1147; however, please be aware of what the city you work in requires. More than 80 jurisdictions currently require massage professionals in their jurisdiction to be CAMTC certified in order to work there.

Individual massage professionals would be affected in the following way:

CMT (Section 4604 of AB 1147)

The qualifications for the Certified Massage Therapist tier would change on January 1, 2015, and would require all new applicants to possess a minimum 500 hour education requirement in addition to passing a national competency exam.

  • Current CMT certificate holders must renew every 2 years in order to avoid having to re-apply for CAMTC certification under the new requirements.
  • If you are not currently CAMTC certified and possess a minimum of 500 hours massage education, this May – December 2014 would be a great time for you to apply for certification.
  • If you allowed your CAMTC certification to expire, you would need to re-apply in order to become CAMTC certified again. This would be a great time to re-apply.
  • Continuing education (CE) requirements would be required beginning 1/1/2016. CAMTC would be authorized to establish how many hours would be required for renewal, and approve CE format, providers, and subject matter.

CMP (Section 4604.2 of AB 1147)

The Certified Massage Practitioner level of CAMTC certification (requires a minimum of 250 hours of massage education) would be phased out on December 31, 2014. No new applications would be accepted.

  • Current CMP certificate holders must renew every two years in order to keep their certification active. If you remain active, you will be able to renew in perpetuity.
  • If you currently possess between 250 and 499 hours of massage education, the remainder of 2014 represents your last chance to apply for the CMP level of CAMTC certification. Future applicants will all have to meet a 500 hour education requirement AND pass an entry-level competency exam in order to qualify for CMT.
  • Continuing education (CE) requirements would be required beginning 1/1/2016. CAMTC would be authorized to establish how many hours would be required for renewal, and approve CE format, providers, and subject matter.

CCMP (Section 4604.3 of AB 1147)

As you may be aware, starting January 2, 2012, no new certificates were issued for those practitioners possessing less than 250 hours of education. Those individuals previously issued a Conditional Certified Massage Practitioner certificate will continue to work toward their goal of 250 hours of education – at which point they will be issued a Certified Massage Practitioner (CMP) certification.  CCMP’s must each year complete a minimum of 30 hours of CE from approved schools or approved CE providers to qualify for CMP. CAMTC can automatically nullify a CCMP if the holder does not comply with these CE requirements. In this case only is a new CMP certificate issued upon completion of requirements.

Opportunity to Comment on FSMTB’s Model Practice Act

A committee of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) has been working three years on the challenging task of building a proposed Model Practice Act for consideration by state legislatures and massage boards. The draft document is now officially open for public comment.

ABMP commends FSMTB for a well-organized and well-explained draft. It feels very accessible, which is quite a compliment for a regulatory document. We are supportive of the document’s general thrust and will be submitting a number of specific improvement suggestions.

To put this project in context, FSMTB is a consortium of massage licensing organizations representing 40 of the 44 states that do regulate massage therapy. FSMTB by itself has no legal power, just the ability to produce good work and encourage other organizations to utilize that work. Their aspiration, once the final version of the Model Practice Act is complete, will be to persuade states now lacking massage licensing to take on that function, utilizing the FSMTB Model Practice Act template as a guide. FSMTB also hopes that states already licensing massage therapy will take a fresh look and consider improving their current licensing laws. For now, though, your current state licensing law remains intact, is not altered by this new draft document.

If you would like to review the draft document, FSMTB has helpfully included routing to a form you can fill out electronically to pass on your comments and any suggested changes. While we understand that not every member is interested in the massage regulatory process, we encourage those ABMP members who do have such an interest to take advantage of this opportunity for input.

Upcoming Michgan Massage License Deadline

If you have already obtained your Michigan massage therapy license, you can disregard this reminder.

All massage therapists in Michigan are required to have a Michigan massage therapy license by November 29, 2014 in order to practice. If you do not have your license by November 29, 2014, you cannot practice massage in Michigan until you get your license. This is not the application deadline; it is the deadline to have your license in hand. The processing time for applications can be several months. Therefore, you should apply for your license now in order to be sure that you will have your license by the November 29 deadline. Don’t delay!

Click here for the license application and instructions.

You can apply by grandfathering prior to November 29, 2014. There is no “automatic” grandfathering – you must apply to be grandfathered in.

You can apply by grandfathering if:

(1) you were a member of ABMP for at least one full year prior to January 9, 2009, or
(2) you took and passed the MBLEx exam or an NCBTMB exam, or
(3) you have practiced massage therapy for an average of at least 10 hours per week for the past 5 years, or
(4) you have practiced massage therapy for an average of at least 10 hours per week for the past 3 years and you completed at least 300 hours of massage therapy coursework at an approved school, or
(5) you completed 500 hours of a Board-approved supervised curriculum in massage therapy.


After November 29, 2014, in order to qualify for a license you must have:

(1) completed 500 hours of a Board-approved supervised curriculum in massage therapy,


(2) taken and passed the MBLEx exam or an NCBTMB exam.

Different requirements apply if you hold a current massage license issued by another state. Also, if your practice is limited to one or more of the following modalities, you are not required to obtain a Michigan massage therapy license:

  • The Feldenkrais method
  • The Trager approach
  • Polarity or polarity therapy
  • Asian bodywork therapy
  • Reiki.
  • Shiatsu.
  • Reflexology, or
  • Structural integration.

If you submitted your application more than 3 months ago but have not yet received your license, you should check the status of your application at, or contact the Michigan Board of Massage directly at (517) 335-0918 or

Renewals: All Michigan massage licenses will expire on October 31, 2014, no matter when the license was issued. The Board will mail renewal information to your address on file three months before the expiration date. If you’ve recently moved, make sure the Board has your current mailing address. You must renew your license within 60 days after the expiration date, or your license will lapse. Your renewed license will be valid for three years. You will not need to complete any continuing education (CE) to renew in 2014, but there will be a CE requirement for subsequent renewals. The Board has not yet determined how many CE hours will be required.

Please contact, or the Michigan Massage Board at (517) 335-0918 or, with any questions.

AL Bill Would Clarify Exemptions to Massage License Requirement

Alabama House Bill 119 is currently pending in the Alabama State Senate. If passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, the bill would make a number of changes to the Alabama Massage Therapy Licensure Act. Some of the most important changes would include:

  • Increasing the number of hours of massage education required for licensure from 500 to 650 (the Board increased the entry-level requirements to 650 hours by rule several years ago so this would simply update the statute).
  • Specifying that practitioners of accupressure, deep tissue therapy, neuromuscular therapy, and reflexology must obtain massage therapy licenses.
  • Exempting from the massage licensure requirement those people who practice only directed movement therapy including, but not limited to, the Feldenkrais method of somatic education, the Trager approach to movement education, the Rosen method, and body-mind centering; and energy field work including, but not limited to, Polarity Therapy, Reiki, Reflexology, Touch for Health, or Jin Shin Do, provided these services are not designated or implied to be massage or massage therapy.
  • Deleting the existing provision for temporary massage therapy permits. Temporary practice permits would no longer be available if HB 119 becomes law.

We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the bill.

Utah – Reflexology and Ortho-Bionomy Are Now Exempt from State Licensure

On April 1, 2014, Governor Herbert signed into law two bills which create new exemptions from the massage licensing law.

House Bill 207 provides that practitioners whose practices are limited to the manipulation of the soft tissues of the hands, feet, and outer ears, including practitioners of reflexology and foot zone therapy, are not be required to have a state massage therapy license, as long as:

(1) the practitioner is certified by and in good standing with an industry-recognized organization that represents a profession with established standards and ethics, and

(2) the client remains fully clothed from the shoulders to the knees.

House Bill 324 provides that practitioners whose practices are limited to the scope of practice of ortho-bionomy are not be required to have a state massage therapy license, as long as:

(1) the practitioner is certified to practice ortho-bionomy by, and is in good standing with, an industry-recognized organization that is approved by the Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing, in collaboration with the Board of Massage, and

(2) the client remains fully clothed from the shoulders to the knees.

These exemptions are now part of Utah’s Massage Therapy Practice Act, and are the law in Utah.  If you have questions, please contact Nancy Potter at

A Minor Legislative Change is Adopted in Indiana

<p>Two bills, Senate Bill 348 and House Bill 1293, failed to pass the state legislature this year. The bills would have changed the current state certification (title protection) program, to a mandatory licensing (practice act) program. The bill would have also expanded the authority of the State Board of Massage Therapy by authorizing it to establish standards for the competent practice of massage therapy, approve massage therapy school curricula consistent with accepted national standards, and establish continuing education requirements. We expect a new bill to be introduced next year. </p>
<p><a href=”/downloads/SB0421-07-ENRS.pdf” target=”_blank”>Senate Bill 421</a> was signed into law by Governor Pence on March 25, 2014. The bill addresses several professional licensing matters, including one related to massage therapy (found on page 18 of SB 421). The bill removes the requirement that state certified massage therapists list the “State of Indiana” as an additional insured on their professional liability insurance. </p>
<p>Effective July 1,2014, Indiana CMT’s will still have to provide proof that they currently possess professional liability insurance but you will no longer have to list the “State of Indiana” as an additional insured.</p>