Utah Bill Changes Definition of Massage Therapy

House Bill 243, sponsored by Rep. Morley, amends several provisions of Title 58, Occupations and Professions, regarding the administration and enforcement of licensing laws and related provisions. Lines 756 – 767 specifically address a modification to the definition of massage therapy:

756 (6) "Practice of massage therapy" means: 757 (a) the examination, assessment, and evaluation of the soft tissue structures of the body 758 for the purpose of devising a treatment plan to promote homeostasis; 759 (b) the systematic manual or mechanical manipulation of the soft tissue of the body for 760 the [therapeutic] purpose of: 761 (i) promoting the health and well-being of a client; 762 (ii) enhancing the circulation of the blood and lymph; 763 (iii) relaxing and lengthening muscles; 764 (iv) relieving pain; 765 (v) restoring metabolic balance; [and] 766 (vi) achieving homeostasis; and 767 (vii) recreational or other purposes; According to Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) staff, the Board of Massage Therapy has been unable to crack down on unlicensed individuals because they were claiming that they practiced “recreational massage” not “therapeutic massage” and were therefore not required to be licensed by the state. This claim was legally challenged and the individuals were determined to be exempt from regulation by claiming they were practicing “recreational massage.” The DOPL staff, after consulting the Board of Massage Therapy (and the state chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA)), decided the easiest way to rectify the problem was to eliminate the word “therapeutic” and insert the phrase “recreational or other purposes” as illustrated above on lines 760 and 767. This is a discouraging and troubling “solution” to the problem identified. The massage therapy profession has had to fight tooth and nail in many states for the term “therapeutic” to be included in the definition of massage therapy in law. To have DOPL staff and the board simply give up the term because it was, in their opinion, the simplest solution, has potentially caused considerable harm to the profession. ABMP has voiced its concerns and disappointment to the DOPL staff, the Board of Massage Therapy, and the AMTA Utah chapter.