With a range of national massage therapy professional regulations, and states with little to no professional massage therapy requirements, it is easy for consumers to get lost. But quality licensed massage therapy as performed by a true massage professional is essential to getting not only the best massage therapy results, but the safest as well.

Many people looking for massage therapy services are not even aware that they should be looking for licensed professionals. The incongruity between state requirements and a lack of federal regulation has resulted in confusion for the massage-buying public. And though it is in no way practical for a potential client to research every detail of his or her state’s laws regarding the requirements for licensed massage therapy, there are some questions a consumer can ask of a prospective massage therapist before committing to his or her care, and there are some additional steps that can be taken to further research qualifications for a given therapist.

Questions For Consumers To Ask To Find Licensed Massage Therapy

Starting very simply, ask outright

• Are you licensed in massage therapy?
• Who granted your license?
• Is your license valid in this state?
• Where did you complete your training in massage therapy?
• What did your training include?
• If you are interested in specialized massage therapies, ask about the therapist’s background in specific types of massage. You might ask, do you specialize in any types of massage? Do you have specialized certifications?
• Are you certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)?

It is important to understand that not all states have a requirement for licensure to practice massage therapy; only 37 states and the District of Columbia have requirements regulating licensed massage therapy. While this means that a therapist may not be legally required to hold a license, it does not mean that receiving massage therapy from an untrained “therapist” or “masseuse” is a good idea. If the answer to the first question above is ‘no’, ask ‘why not’, and continue to ask what training and certification (such as an NCBTMB certificate) proves his or her professional abilities and expertise. Certification by the NCBTMB and membership in a professional organization (namely, the American Massage Therapy Association, or AMTA) can be taken as a respectable substitute for a state license, as these are the standards that are used by most states that require licensed massage therapy for the licensing of massage therapists (just be sure the certification is current and in good standing).

Certain safeguards online can be used to double-check information as provided by a massage therapist. In most states, licensing status for licensed massage therapy providers is accessible through state databases, and the AMTA can also be queried regarding certification status of individuals. Of course, an easy online search is a quick way to determine whether a training program looks legitimate as well.

Surely, taking the steps to learn about licensed massage therapy does take some added effort, but the time is worthwhile; after all, more than relaxation is at stake, health and safety are as well.