Hopefully, you have received an email from AMTA Government Relations by now, asking for you to complete a form that will show your support for this bill.

If you haven’t been to a chapter meeting in a few years, you may have missed information about where this bill came from and why. Let’s get you up to speed.

Feedback from Members
Two years ago, we noticed we had new grads at chapter meetings telling us they felt under-prepared upon graduation. One of the areas they identified as an area of greater need was chair massage, and in some programs, sports massage as well. After speaking with a few schools, it was determined that it was a curriculum problem, but one that couldn’t easily be addressed without jeopardizing financial aid. Instead of risking student’s access to financial aid, however, we could increase school program hours.

National Standards
With that in mind, we started researching the National standards. An ELAP study was done in 2011, that lasted for 21 months, and they found the average program length in 2012 was 697 hours. ELAP made a recommendation of a minimum of 625 hours. (You can learn more at elapmassage.org.) In addition, we looked at our neighboring states to see what they required. New York requires some of the most extensive education, at 1000 hours.

Looking at requirements across the nation, 18 states require more than 500 hours of education for a massage license, and 9 already require liability insurance, with two more working to propose it.

Talking to Education Directors in State
We have spent the past year speaking with and meeting with education directors at massage programs across the state to come up with a plan. Some wanted to increase our hours to 850 hours. Some wanted 750. Some wanted to required clinic hours. After hearing all the feedback, we agreed on an average of 750 hours, plus 60 hours of clinic. This is a compromise of the feedback from schools, and makes us more competitive with national standards. In addition, many of the massage programs in state are already at 720 hours, making this a small increase.

Human Trafficking
Lastly, our state has a unique problem of combating human trafficking performed under the guise of massage therapy. According to the Polaris Project, Flushing, NY is an entry point for human trafficking in the United States. We found the number of applicants for massage licenses from Flushing, NY started increasing a few years ago. While this may be coincidental, there was also a law enforcement trend of closing down more illicit massage practices.

Over the past two years, we have been working with the Dept. of Public Health to close any loopholes in our regulatory processes that allowed for unqualified individuals receiving massage licenses. We also feel that by raising the entry-level hours for massage therapy licensing, requiring supervised clinic hours, and requiring liability insurance, we are making massage therapy a less attractive option for human trafficking in state.

Department of Public Health
We have worked with the Department of Public Health over the last six months on this legislation, and have their support.

This legislation originated in the membership, with the newest members coming out of massage programs. The AMTA-CT Board of Directors took this feedback seriously and spoke with massage therapy programs across the state, and worked with the schools as well as the Dept. of Public Health on a solution. This has been a work in progress over the last two years, and is now in legislation.

We hope you will show your support for our massage therapy programs in-state, and help us raise the massage therapy profession in state.