Remember that an enthusiastic amateur can do more harm than good. Therapeutic massage should be considered a medical treatment, so make sure that the hands on your skin are fully qualified to be there. If you’re wondering what you should look for in a masseuse, we’ve got your back.
A spa, especially a MedSpa, will make certain that their estheticians are properly licensed and certified, but it never hurts to ask, and it may spark an interesting discussion with your massage therapist.
Massage therapy is regulated in 43 st
ates, plus there are cities and municipalities with their peculiarities. Practitioners have to be able to meet all the requirements to be properly licensed. Most states accept certifications from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). Their three tiers of testing are The National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage (NCETM), and the National Exam for State Licensure (NESL). To find a board-certified masseuse, you can search based on your address or the type of massage you need.
To qualify to take the NCETMB/NCETM, a masseuse must have at least 500 hours of instruction, including:
- 125 hrs of body systems (such as physiology and anatomy)
- 200 hrs of massage and bodywork theory
- 40 hrs of pathology
- 10 hours of ethics
- 125 hours of study in wellness topics
If your masseuse has an NESL only, it means they have met the state requirements, but they don’t want to maintain certification from the NCBTMB board. They can even take this test before they have completed massage training.
The alternative equivalent to the NESL is the relatively new The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) which is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.
Whichever exam your massage therapist has chosen to complete, they will be tested in these areas:
Overall knowledge of systems in the body
- Professional standards
- Legal liabilities
- Business practices
- Medical professional ethics,
- Spinal pathology
Of course, it is, of course, your decision to whether you want to take your chances with a masseuse who isn’t certified or licensed, but understand that you will be taking your back into your own hands.