It’s now illegal in Oklahoma to practice massage therapy without a license. The Massage Therapy Practice Act is a completely new law enacted by SB 687. It is found in 59 O.S. §§ 4200.1-4200.13.
The Act outlines acts requiring a license, the authority of the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering, qualifications for a license, how the license is to be displayed, massage therapy school license requirement, the licensing examination, reciprocity, preemption, disciplinary actions, civil immunity for members of the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering, and what constitutes a misdemeanor violation of the Act. The State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering will make rules necessary for the implementation and enforcement of the Act.
At a time when many licensing schemes across the country are coming under scrutiny as being unnecessary, Oklahoma is going in the opposite direction and requiring another occupation to be licensed. Legislators cited the following reasons for this new law: 1) Establishing standards of minimum competency; 2) Ensuring therapists are qualified to represent themselves to the public as licensed therapists; 3) Helping consumers identify the responsibilities and services unique to a massage therapist; and 4) Enhancing public safety by enforcing disciplinary actions against non-compliant practitioners; 5) Setting a formal grievance process for consumers. I believe the real reason is to cut down on the massage parlors that serve as fronts for prostitution.
Massage Therapy Practice Act Definitions
“Massage therapist” means an individual who practices massage or massage therapy and is licensed under the Massage Therapy Practice Act. A massage therapist uses visual, kinesthetic, and palpatory skills to assess the body and may evaluate a condition to the extent of determining whether massage is indicated or contraindicated.
“Massage therapy” means the skillful treatment of the soft tissues of the human body. Massage is designed to promote general relaxation, improve movement, relieve somatic and muscular pain or dysfunction, stress and muscle tension, provide for general health enhancement, personal growth, education and the organization, balance and integration of the human body and includes, but is not limited to: 1) the use of touch, pressure, friction, stroking, gliding, percussion, kneading, movement, positioning, holding, range of motion and nonspecific stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement, and vibration by manual or mechanical means with or without the use of massage devices that mimic or enhance manual measures, and 2) the external application of ice, heat and cold packs for thermal therapy, water, lubricants, abrasives and external application of herbal or topical preparations not classified as prescription drugs
Massage Therapy Practice Act – Acts Requiring License
The following acts now require a license in Oklahoma: 1) Use the title of massage therapist; 2) Representing oneself to be a massage therapist; 3) Use of any other title, words, abbreviations, letters, figures, signs or devices that indicate the person is a massage therapist; or 4) Utilizing the terms “massage”, “massage therapy” or “massage therapist” when advertising or printing promotional material.
Massage Therapy Practice Act Criminal Violations
It is a misdemeanor to do any of the following: 1) Violate a provision of the Massage Therapy Practice Act or rules adopted pursuant to the Massage Therapy Practice Act; 2) Render or attempt to render massage therapy services or massage therapy instruction without the required current valid license issued by the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering; 3) Advertise or use a designation, diploma or certificate implying that the person offers massage therapy instruction or is a massage therapy school unless the person holds a current valid license issued by the Oklahoma Board of Private Vocational Schools or is a technology center school accredited by the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education; or 4) Advertise or use a designation, diploma, or certificate implying that the person is a massage therapist unless the person holds a current valid license issued by the State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering.
This act went into effect on May 1, 2017.
If you are charged with violating the Massage Therapy Practice Act,
59 O.S. § 4200.13 – http://www.oscn.net/applications/oscn/DeliverDocument.asp?CiteID=478776