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Massage Today
December, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 12

Take a Stand

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

I hope that many of you are as thoroughly outraged at the Mississippi Board of Massage Therapy as I am. In November, we ran a front-page article on how the board has effectively shut down the practice of CranioSacral Therapy by massage therapists regulated by Mississippi law.

( It appears that this is just the start of attempts to relegate massage professionals to "fluff and buff" practitioners, despite their levels of training.

I recently discovered that the New Jersey Nursing Board, which has jurisdiction over massage therapy in that state, is proposing to outlaw lymphatic drainage techniques and animal massage performed by massage therapists. The New Jersey proposal is just as shortsighted as the Mississippi law, and no more palatable. Nurses who are ignorant of the massage therapy profession are thrusting new regulations upon us when massage professionals, who would likely know better, should be involved.

The proposed New Jersey regulation stipulates that under rule 13:37-16.7 Scope of Practice, "(a) A certificant shall only practice those methods of massage, bodywork and somatic therapy for which the certificant has received training." It further stipulates, "(b) Notwithstanding any training received as permitted by (a) above, a certificant shall not perform:

  1. Colonic irrigations;
  2. Prostate massages;
  3. Vaginal massages;
  4. Internal organ movement;
  5. Manual lymph drainage, also known as decongestive therapy;
  6. Animal therapies prohibited by the Veterinary Medical Act, N.J.S.A. 45:16-1 et seq.;
  7. Any application of electrical current to the body (Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation, TENS, machine); and
  8. Ultrasound therapy."

I find it amusing that in Florida, only licensed massage therapists are allowed to perform colonic irrigation, but in New Jersey it is being proposed that massage therapists be specifically prohibited from doing so. As long as appropriate training has been received, I find it nonsensical for a regulated massage therapist in any jurisdiction to be prohibited from internal organ movement, manual lymph drainage, and/or animal massage.

With this series of escalating attacks on our rights to serve the public in a positive way, I do not see a more important issue facing our profession today than that of protecting our scope of practice. I think it has to be done thoughtfully, forcefully and legally in all 50 states. As much as I try, I fail to see how the regulation nay sayers are doing anything other than avoiding reality. A strong scope of practice written into law makes it much more difficult for outside interests to usurp our future.

I first warned of this in the May issue ( when I talked about Kansas chiropractors trying to stake sole claim to the term 'manual therapy.' It appears that illogical chiropractic zeal is also behind the outlawing of CranioSacral Therapy in Mississippi. It seems that the chiropractic profession has forgotten its struggles against the mainstream medical establishment. If ever there was one profession that should be leading another by the hand, it should be chiropractic helping to establish massage therapy as a viable, cost-effective path to homeostasis.

Instead, there seems to be a disturbing trend to model itself after its early aggressors and relegate massage therapy to the status of an ineffective personal service. When viewed in concert with the recent Ohio law that taxes massage therapy as a personal service, as well as the proposed change in New Jersey, the threat to massage therapy looms large indeed.

The first step in taking a stand for our right to practice is to let our feelings be known to those proposing the New Jersey limitations of practice. The Division of Consumer Affairs is soliciting comments on the proposed rules change. The website is, and the area for comment is at the end of the document. They require your comments no later than Dec. 19, 2003. Please help buck the current trend to dilute our practice capabilities and make your feelings known. Take a stand!

Thanks for listening!

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters relating to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.


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