ABMP Advocates for Massage Licensure in Kansas

ABMP submitted written commentary to the Kansas legislature regarding Senate Bill 305, which would create statewide licensure for massage therapists. We support this legislation and advocated on your behalf because licensure would create a unified scope of practice, develop professional standards, establish minimum education hours, and elevate the profession.

We invite you to read our comments below and write to your elected officials. Use the “Find Your Legislator” dropdown menu to find your elected officials here. When writing your letter, you can use our sample advocacy letter.

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) provides professional liability insurance, business resources, professional publications, and legislative and regulatory advocacy for more than 81,000 members nationwide, with almost 1,000 members in Kansas.

ABMP is writing in support of Senate Bill 305 (SB 305), which would create statewide licensure for massage therapists in Kansas. Currently, 45 states require massage therapy licensure. States requiring massage licensure benefit the licensed professional and the public by providing a unified scope of practice, professional standards, minimum education hours, and accountability identified through practice violations. ABMP believes SB 305 would provide the same benefits to the massage community in Kansas and that massage licensure must be a priority for the legislature this session to elevate the profession so it is on par with other licensed states.

First, SB 305 would establish minimum education hours and define qualifications and competencies for entry-level practitioners. ABMP applauds SB 305, which would require a minimum of 625 hours of massage education. We support this hour requirement due to the findings of the Entry-Level Analysis Project (ELAP), which identified the skills and knowledge that should be included in a core massage education to prepare a student to practice safely and competently. The ELAP recommended entry-level curriculum guidelines of 600 to 650 hours. The proposed 625-hour requirement in SB 305 satisfies ELAP’s standard.

Dovetailing off our first point, ABMP recognizes the benefit of massage education uniformity that would assist students in passing a national psychometric exam—another requirement outlined in SB 305. The Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) is a leading provider of such a test: the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx). FSMTB states the optimal number of massage therapy education hours to pass the MBLEx is between 600 and 650 hours. We fully support the 625-hour requirement in SB 305.

Second, the current municipal regulation framework fails to protect the consumer. SB 305 would replace this patchwork of municipal regulation by establishing a Board of Massage Therapy under the umbrella of the Board of Healing Arts to license Kansas massage therapists. In doing so, public protection will increase, because licensure sets up guardrails that assure consumers their chosen massage therapist is practicing within the same scope of practice as others within their state and has met the same licensing requirements vetted by one entity, rather than multiple municipalities. SB 305 would allow only licensed professionals to practice and to use the terms “massage therapist,” “massagist,” “massotherapist,” “myotherapist,” “body therapist,” “massage technician,” “massage practitioner,” “masseur,” or “masseuse.” This classification system will help consumers choose wisely when selecting a massage therapist. A licensing credential lends credibility to a profession and gives a level of comfort to consumers—they know who is educated, vetted, and capable of performing quality, safe services.

Another failure of the municipal regulation framework is the lack of violation and discipline reinforcement. Currently, a massage therapist can be disciplined in one city, move to another, and the receiving city is unaware of the offense. In contrast, SB 305 would implement processes to address “unconscionable acts,” including ethical violations, license revocations, and convictions relevant to the practice of massage and bodywork therapy. The bill would require fingerprints and a state and national criminal history record check for an initial license application. ABMP views these processes as a positive step forward for Kansas to better protect consumers from those who commit a massage violation.  

Third, many massage therapists are sole practitioners and travel from city to city to see clients. The current patchwork of municipal regulation in Kansas is an undue burden on practitioners, requiring massage therapists to comply with multiple city ordinances. SB 305 would restrict municipal ordinances from instating costly municipal licenses on practitioners. Licensure would reduce the administrative and financial burden of those working in multiple jurisdictions and increase portability and city reciprocity. At a national level, Kansas massage therapists are at a disadvantage when they want to move out of state—they cannot participate in a licensure by endorsement process in 45 states. By adopting a licensing model of regulation, Kansas practitioners will be able to relocate across the country more easily and transfer their endorsement smoothly.

Fourth, ABMP is pleased with the licensure by prior experience (“grandfathering”) provision included in SB 305. When laws and regulations go through major changes, such as implementing licensure, they can critically harm businesses or professionals who relied on the previous system. It is imperative that massage and bodywork therapists practicing under the current regulation model be provided a pathway to licensure. The thoughtful inclusion of a prior experience clause in SB 305 is necessary for the massage community to remain vibrant and successful during the period of change.

ABMP believes statewide massage and bodywork licensure is desirable in Kansas and preferable to the current patchwork of local regulatory patterns in place. It’s time Kansas joined the 45 other licensed states and recognized the benefits of licensure. We encourage you to vote yes on SB 305 and ask that a hearing be held to move Kansas licensure forward this legislative session.

Thank you for considering our opinions.