Two new bills introduced in the Arkansas legislature, HB 1562 and HB 1589, seek to exempt practitioners of Bowen therapy and Bowen techniques from the state’s massage licensure requirement. Under these bills, Bowen practitioners would not be required to hold a state massage license to practice in Arkansas as long as they are certified by a professional or credentialing agency which (1) requires a minimum level of training, demonstration of competence, and adherence to an approved scope of practice and ethical standard, and (2) maintains disciplinary procedures to ensure adherence to the requirements of the organization or agency. The bills also state that The Arkansas State Board of Massage Therapy can verify that a practitioner claiming this exemption is in fact certified by a professional organization or credentialing agency.
ABMP does not oppose an exemption for Bowen practitioners. However, we have contacted the Board to express our concerns regarding the provision allowing the Board to verify whether a person claiming the exemption is actually certified. It is ABMP’s position that Board staff and resources – which are funded by the fees paid by massage therapists – should not be used to verify whether someone who has paid no fees, and is not governed by the Board, is exempt. HB 1562 proposes additional amendments to the massage law as well, including a new registration requirement mandating that all owners of massage clinics or spas, as well as solo practitioners and independent contractors practicing massage, must “register” with the Massage Board to obtain an “independent clinic licensure.” The bill does not explain what the specific process or requirements for this registration would be.