On June 17th, Governor Rick Perry signed House Bill 2644, which amended the Texas Massage Therapy law. Effective September 1, 2007, candidates for licensure must now have completed a training program of at least 500 hours in length, consisting of the following:
  • 200 hours taught by a licensed massage therapy instructor and dedicated to the study of massage therapy techniques and theory and the practice of manipulation of soft tissue, with at least 125 hours dedicated to the study of Swedish massage therapy techniques;
  • 50 hours of anatomy;
  • 25 hours of physiology;
  • 50 hours of kinesiology;
  • 40 hours of pathology;
  • 20 hours of hydrotherapy;
  • 45 hours of massage therapy laws and rules, business practices, and professional ethics standards;
  • 20 hours of health, hygiene, first aid, universal precautions, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); and
  • 50 hours in an internship program.
In addition, the bill eliminated the practical examination requirement. The changes to the requirements do not affect currently licensed massage therapists, and will not affect any student in a massage program provided the student was enrolled in the program before September 1, 2007. ABMP actively participated in the 2007 Texas Legislative session, and sought to add language to the bill that would have created a massage therapy advisory committee. Unfortunately, the amendment adding the advisory committee language was dropped at the 11th hour by the bill’s sponsor after other amendments to the bill were added. Texas has the largest number of licensees in the massage profession that do not have representation in the form of a formal advisory committee or board. ABMP also would have preferred amended language that would have given greater flexibility to candidates for licensure to take a written exam of their choosing (among the Texas state licensing exam, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork’s exams, or the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards’ Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination). An amendment was inserted on the bill by Rep. Rafael Anchia, who had been the sponsor of another bill this session that would have amended the massage therapy licensing law. The amendment focused on adding language allowing for strengthened enforcement of the massage law as a method of controlling adult entertainment activities. As a part of this amendment, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) can issue “one or more licenses.” This language, while very vague, was intended to allow DSHS to regulate bodywork or non-massage practitioners. ABMP’s perspective on the bill: The hour change makes Texas education requirements consistent with most states nationally and with ABMP, AMTA, and NCBTMB requirements. While no definitive evidence was presented to clarify the need for increasing the number of training hours, this was something that some practitioners and educators had been seeking for many years, and we understand the interest in moving to this standard. The new language regarding “one or more licenses” does not appear to be a major concern. Representatives from various bodywork groups are organizing an effort to work with DSHS to create a solution that serves the interests of all parties that could potentially be affected. Our primary concern with the bill is the short time frame for implementation. The effective date of the act is September 1, which was moved up from January 1, 2008 by legislative counsel when considering the amendments. This means that schools will need to offer a new 500-hour curriculum starting September 1, less than 10 weeks away. The law will require the massage education community and DSHS to scramble to amend the existing rules to allow for the new program offering. This was short-sighted on the part of the state legislature. While essentially only a short-term challenge, it will cause a considerable amount of effort for schools to be able to offer programs of a minimum 500-hour length. At a meeting held in Austin June 15, schools and representatives from DSHS began to establish a process for implementing the changes required from the new law. Les Sweeney, ABMP President, represented ABMP at the meeting. The same group intends to meet again July 13 in Austin to consider proposed drafts of rules that need to be amended as a result of the law change. To view HB 2644, please visit http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/80R/billtext/html/HB02644F.htm