MLN Vol.19, No.1

Massage Law Newsletter

www.healingandlaw.com

Vol. 19, No 1                                   ISSN 1073-5461                                      March 2001

A LETTER FROM ONE OF OUR READERS

March 14, 2001 

Dear Albert,

A year ago I was shocked to discover that after being fully trained in Shiatsu and practicing Shiatsu professionally for 17 years, I had to terminate my practice because of a Massage Therapy practice law that was enacted by the Maryland legislature in October 1999.  The way massage therapy was defined in the law was so broad that it covered most ways of touching the body, making touch - regardless of the context or purpose for its use - the exclusive right of "state certified" massage therapists.

In order to comply with the law, certification required 500 hours of training in massage therapy and passing a massage exam.  The grandfathering provision in the law was inadequate because it did not provide for new or part-time practitioners (who could not document 300 paid sessions) and still required everyone to pass the exam.

Many Maryland Shiatsu practitioners and practitioners of other "energy" modalities were outraged at being put out of work.  We knew that our work helped so many people, was not harmful to consumers and did not need to be regulated.

We wanted to take our case to Maryland legislators to request an exemption. We knew, however, that in order to present a convincing case, we had to develop a full understanding of the issues surrounding bodywork laws across the U.S.; why these laws were established, who they really protected, who they hurt; and if there was in fact any evidence of actual harm caused by bodywork. 

I began researching these issues on the Internet.  I found very few sites that were really helpful until I came across your Massage Law Newsletter.  I printed off most of the newsletters and read each one carefully. 

The information contained on your web site on bodywork regulation was a gold mine! It was also very comforting to learn that we were not alone in our outrage and that others were fighting similar injustices.  Your web site provided us with exactly the kind of information and data that we needed to make a convincing case for exemption to our legislators.

So far, our Maryland Senators have approved a bill to exempt "energy" modalities from the massage law and it has been sent down to the House.  We are hoping that our Maryland Delegates approve the same bill.

Thank you for making this information available to the bodywork community and thank you for your accessibility and all your support.  I feel very fortunate to have come across you and your web site - I am sure many others in the bodywork community feel the same. You are welcome to include this letter on your site.

Warm regards,

           Sharon Benoliel

           Majiksb@aol.com

STATE MASSAGE LAWS = $$$$ FOR MASSAGE SCHOOLS

Albert Schatz and Mary Brewster

Here's freedom to him who would read.

Here's freedom to him who would write.

There's none ever feared

that the truth should be heard,

But they whom the truth would indite.

Robert Burns

Scottish poet, 1751-1796)

We appreciate Sharon Benoliel's having taken time to write us. We are not paid for publishing the Massage Law Newsletter. Our compensation is knowing that our reports are useful, and that people appreciate what we do.

Our objective is to help massage therapists and other bodyworkers who are exploited by state massage laws. Many bodyworkers have been practicing for many years, and have helped many people. They have not harmed anybody.

Bodyworkers, like Reiki and Shiatsu practitioners, are well trained in their respective modalities, which are very different from massage therapy.

When state massage laws are applied to these other bodyworkers, massage schools make money. The following cases show how these massage law money mills work.

Case 1: State massage law = $$$$

for massage schools

In Maryland, Sharon Benoliel, a Shiatsu practitioner, with 17 years of experience, was denied the right to earn a living by the Maryland state board that regulates massage therapists. The board wanted her to pay a lot of money to a massage school in order to be trained as a massage therapist. Then the board would permit her to resume doing Shiatsu, which she had previously been doing for 17 years. Hopefully, this exploitive situation may soon be resolved by the Maryland state legislature.

Case 2: State massage law = $$$$

 for massage schools

In New York City, a Shiatsu practitioner was arrested at gun point by policemen because she was not a registered massage therapist.1 The New York State Board for Massage Therapy requires Shiatsu practitioners (and practitioners of several other non-massage bodywork modalities) to pay a lot of money to massage schools in order to be trained as massage therapists. The Board would then permit them to resume doing Shiatsu and the other modalities which they had previously been doing.

Case 3: State massage law = $$$$

for massage schools

In Florida, Ruth Foreman, a Reiki master has "taught Reiki classes and practiced in a hospital, at a clinic for chemotherapy and radiation patients, and in a healing clinic in New Hampshire." But she is not permitted to do Reiki in Florida.2  The Florida State Board of Massage Therapy wants all Reiki practitioners in that state to pay a lot of money to massage schools in order to be trained as massage therapists. The Board would then permit them to resume doing Reiki which they had previously been doing.  Reiki is not considered massage in 15 other states which regulate massage therapists.

There is no well-documented evidence that Shiatsu, Reiki, and practitioners of other non-massage bodywork modalities need training in massage therapy. But state massage laws require them to pay massage schools a lot of money for massage training which they don't need.

There is no well-documented evidence that the public benefits when state massage laws require Shiatsu, Reiki, and practitioners of other non-massage bodywork modalities to be trained in massage therapy. But state massage laws require them to pay massage schools a lot of money for massage training which they don't need.

The only ones who benefit (when state massage laws require non-massage bodyworkers to be trained in massage therapy) are the massage schools to which the non-massage bodyworkers have to pay a lot of money for massage training that they don't need.

Case 4: State massage law = $$$$

for massage schools

Many states have massage laws which adversely affect many massage therapists who have been doing massage for many years. They have helped many people, and have had many satisfied clients. They have not harmed anybody. But they do not have the number of hours of school training that the state laws require. So, the laws require them to pay a lot of money to massage schools to get additional massage training.

There is no well-documented evidence that the additional training, (for which state massage laws require those massage therapists to pay a lot of money to massage schools) improves their competence and the quality of their work.

There is also no well-documented evidence that the public benefits when state massage laws require those massage therapists to pay a lot of money to massage schools for additional massage training which they don't need.

The only ones who benefit from such state massage laws are the massage schools to which the massage therapists have to pay a lot of money for additional training that they don't need.

Caveat emptor

Let the buyer beware

"It seems that proponents of licensing are hopeful that a state license would mean more money, status, and power." Jerry A. Green, Attorney for the California Coalition on Somatic Practices.

"I think the move toward licensure is regrettable. I believe licensing creates state-sanctioned monopolies ... with the explicit goal of "protecting the public, but with the real effect of protecting those who hold the monopolies respective entitlements, reducing information to the public, and restricting competition." Don Schwartz. Director, Trager Institute

"Professional regulation is not about serving society. It is about power, control, and money for a self-selected group of providers trying to be part of a health-care system rife with corruption, greed, and life-damaging and life-ending errors  - all well-documented by the nightly network news." Don Schwartz. Director, Trager Institute

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the ... purposes are beneficial. Men born of freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding. " U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis 

"The passion to regulate the lives of others is deep-seated in many individuals. When this is based on political expedience, it is bad, and when it is inspired by an idealism which wishes to inflict benefits on others, it can become dangerous."  Sir Arthur Amies

"So many human problems begin with someone saving someone else from something from which he hasn't been asked to be saved." Glen Doman

We need to repeal state massage laws

which = $$$$ for massage schools

"When e'er a duty waits for thee,

       With sober judgement view it.

And never idly wish it done.

      Begin at once and do it."

We need to repeal state massage laws that benefit massage schools by requiring massage therapists and other bodyworkers to pay a lot of money for massage training which they don't need.

We need an environmental impact study to determine how many massage therapists and other bodyworkers have been required to pay a lot of money to massage schools for massage training they did not need. The research should also estimate the economic damage (in dollars paid to massage schools for unnecessary training) and what adverse social hardships were caused by those state massage laws.

The study is needed because massage is safe. There is no well-documented evidence that  state regulation is needed (a) to protect the public from harm, and (b) to assure hands-on competence.

The environmental impact study should be done by an independent committee. By an independent committee, we mean a committee whose members have no vested interests in the continued existence of state massage laws that require people to pay massage schools for massage raining which they do not need.

Reparations should be paid

Those who have been adversely affected by state massage laws (that required people to pay massage schools for massage training which they did not need) should be compensated by the agencies responsible for the adverse effects.4

An invitation to our readers

We welcome letters and articles from those who disagree with us, and will publish their comments in the Massage Law Newsletter on our web site <www.healingandlaw.com>.

References

1. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M. Oriental body- worker arrested at gunpoint, handcuffed, and jailed in New York City. Massage Law Newsletter. 10(3):1-4. 1999.

2. Reiki practitioners face uphill battle in Florida. Massage Magazine. page 183. March/April issue. 2001.

3. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M.  Impact study needed. Letter to the Editor. Massage Magazine. pages 18-20. January/February. 2000.

4. Schatz, A., and Brewster, M. Has the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) provided evidence that state regulation is illegal? Massage Law Newsletter. In press.

[Home] [Massage Law] [Journal ] [Special Issues] [Bios] [Spiritual Massage] [Massage Humor]