Assembly Bill 4455, sponsored by Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo (D – Dist. 29), was passed out of the Assembly Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities Committee Monday, November 19, 2007. A4455 would amend the current voluntary certification law by establishing a practice act that would require mandatory licensing of massage and bodywork therapists, as well as establish a Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy to replace the Massage, Bodywork, and Somatic Therapy Examining Committee currently in place under the Board of Nursing. The bill would eliminate regulatory jurisdiction over “somatic therapy,” and allow licensed practitioners to treat illness, impairment, and disability, which they are forbidden to do in current law. ABMP, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) - New Jersey Chapter, and a coalition of non-massage practitioners have been negotiating several points contained in the bill for more than a year. ABMP is now satisfied that our members will benefit from the passage of A4455. Massage and bodywork therapists who are currently state-certified would automatically become licensed. For 360 days after the implementation of A4455, a grandfathering provision will allow for existing practitioners who are not currently state certified to qualify for a license without having to go back to school or take an examination if they have been practicing full-time for at least 2 years, or part-time for 5 years and have 200 hours formal massage or bodywork education. After the grandfathering time frame, in order to qualify for a license, practitioners will have to meet one of the following:
- Successful completion of a 500-hour in-class massage therapy program, or
- Successful completion of a written examination approved by the board.
- Practitioners who limit soft tissue manipulation to the hands, feet, and ears.
- Reiki and similar energy work as determined by the board.
- Practitioners who use touch, words, and directed movement to deepen awareness of existing patterns of movement in the body and the client remains clothed.