Minnesota Introduces Licensing Bills for Massage and Asian Bodywork Therapies

Serve the best interest of your profession and the public while ensuring ongoing competence and high standards of practice. How? Support licensing efforts in Minnesota! The Minnesota legislature introduced Senate File 967 (SF 967) and House File 973 (HF 973), both of which would require statewide licensure for massage and Asian bodywork therapists.

ABMP worked with a coalition of professional associations, massage therapists, and massage therapy schools in Minnesota to draft these bills over the past five years. SF 967 and HF 973 are fair bills that, if signed into law, would not be unduly burdensome on practitioners. We support the bills because they propose acceptable licensing requirements, licensure by prior experience (“grandfathering”) opportunities for those currently practicing, and reasonable licensing fees.

Currently, Minnesota has a patchwork of inconsistent regulations across its municipalities. A statewide license would level the playing field for massage therapists. Licensure would provide the industry a unified scope of practice, professional standards, and accountability—positive steps toward ensuring safe and quality services, offering consumer and practitioner protection, and elevating the massage and Asian bodywork communities.

ABMP encourages you to support this legislation and needs your help letting the Minnesota legislature know this should be a priority. Write a letter to your elected officials, sharing why licensure is an important and necessary step to advance the massage therapy industry. Find your representatives and senators here. When addressing your reps, you can use our sample advocacy letter—feel free to adapt it and elevate your voice, experience, and expertise. Let’s advance the massage profession together!

Highlights of the Bills

Massage therapy—the manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to promote, maintain, and restore health and well-being. This therapy uses any of the following techniques: stroking, gliding, lifting, kneading, jostling, vibration, percussion, compression, friction, holding, passive stretching within the client’s physiological range of motion, movement or manipulation of the soft tissues, active assistive and resistive movement, and stretching.

Asian bodywork therapy—therapy based on Chinese medical principles with the intent of promoting, maintaining, and restoring health and well-being by affecting the body and emotions. This therapy uses any of the following techniques: pressing, soothing, kneading, vibration, friction, passive stretching within the client’s physiological range of motion, active assistive and resistive movement, stretching, and manipulation of the soft tissues (including tapping, movement, or exercising).

If SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, anyone using the terms “licensed massage therapist,” “LMT,” “licensed Asian bodywork therapist,” or “LABT” must have a license to practice. Other complementary and alternative health-care practitioners will not need a massage therapy license under these bills, even if their scope of practice permits some massage work.

Licensure by Prior Experience
Those currently practicing in Minnesota could qualify for licensure by proving they have at least two years of prior experience in massage or Asian bodywork therapy during the past five years, as well as satisfying a criminal background check and having qualifying liability insurance in place. Proof of experience will have to be submitted within a certain timeline, which will be determined in the future.

Licensure Requirements
If SF 967 or HF 973 is enacted, new applicants for a massage or Asian bodywork license must provide the following:

  • A completed application that lists an applicant’s credentials, description of disciplinary actions against the applicant, history of drug or alcohol abuse, and any prior convictions
  • Proof of completing a massage therapy or Asian bodywork program that is licensed or registered with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and accredited by an agency recognized by the US Department of Education
    • Massage and Asian bodywork therapy programs would need to be at least 625 hours (500 contact education hours and 125 clinical hours)
  • Proof of liability insurance (your ABMP membership provides liability insurance that satisfies legislative requirements)
  • Passing an examination approved by the Massage Therapy Advisory Council
  • A criminal background check

License Renewal and Fees
If SF 967 or HF 973 is enacted, practitioners would receive a license valid for two years that must be renewed every two years. Below are the initial and biennial license fees:

  • Initial application: not to exceed $285.
  • Biennial renewal: not to exceed $185.

Municipal Preemption
If SF 967 or HF 973 is signed into law, local municipalities would be preempted from requiring massage or Asian bodywork therapists to obtain a municipal professional license. Municipalities could still require local business permits for massage therapists and Asian bodywork therapists, which is something all business owners and professionals serving the public are typically required to obtain.

Please reach out to ABMP’s Government Relations team at gr@abmp.com if you have questions or comments.