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The Pros & Cons of Licensing in California

The Pros and Cons of Licensure in CA

If you didn’t already know, California is one of the only states that regulates massage with a board (the CAMTC), rather than through state licensure. This year, the CAMTC is up for its sunset review, which means we have an opportunity to change the way massage is being regulated in our state.

Before we go too deeply into how we can make change, I want to discuss the pros and cons of retiring the CAMTC and moving on to state licensure.

Let’s start with the Cons

Depending on where you live in CA, changing to state licensure may make things seem a little more complicated.

1. There may be additional fees and regulations.

This one doesn’t necessarily apply the same way to all of us, because as it presently stands, your local government can choose to further regulate massage therapy in addition to what is required by the CAMTC. For example, in San Francisco, SFDPH regulates massage therapy heavily and in a way that is rather unfair for the small business owner and the private practitioner (i.e., not being able to legally practice in the majority of the city). State licensure may place a burden on those who want to stay off the radar, so to speak. Right now, we are not “required” to register through the CAMTC. However, most jobs end up requiring that you are certified and most practicing massage therapists in CA keep their certification up to date. However, some of the individuals who haven’t had to deal with any regulation or red tape in the past may be brought into the fold with licensure.

2. There may be CEU requirements.

I’m going to be completely honest with you. You’re not going to hear any of us here at the Morales Method® complaining about CEU requirements. That said, I also understand not all of us are on the same page. For example, there are those who live in remote areas who incur travel costs and therefore may face additional hurdles to complete these CEU hours. This is definitely a con for those individuals. I will be the first to admit that the world of CEU education these days is unfortunately filled with plenty of duds and filler class hours, making it annoying to have to meet some CEU requirements. There are however plenty of wonderful options to expand your mind and freshen up your approach to your work!

3. Potential for testing

As we know, sticking with the CAMTC does not eliminate the possibility of testing (the MBLEx has been here before and it could come back again). However, it is very likely that if there is some form of statewide regulation for massage therapy, education and testing will be required to become licensed as a Massage Therapist. Many of us don’t like taking tests and don’t feel that a written test necessarily reflect the full aptitude that someone may have in manual therapy.

Alright, so now let’s move onto the Pros.

1. It will make it more difficult for ‘bad actors’ to acquire licensure.

This is one of the most important points to me. It’s well known that human sex trafficking rings often use what I will call massage parlors (rather than clinics or spas) as a cover for their activities. It is an unfortunate association that’s often played up in media. Think about how rarely we see any sort of bodywork portrayed in media (outside of sports, for the most part) without it being sexualized in some way. That aside, the most important point here is that whatever entity that represents us must address the existence of these establishments and their illegal activity as it hides in plain sight under the guise of massage therapy. Currently, especially in certain areas of CA, this is a huge issue.

How this problem of human sex trafficking under the guise of massage therapy is managed can influence all massage businesses large and small. Within the city of San Francisco, the regulations have become so strict for the massage therapist that fees are astronomical. It is important that while the establishment representing us is addressing this issue, they are also protecting those of us who are simply practicing massage or manual therapy rather than allowing us to be collateral damage. While this is a tricky task, I do believe that licensure will create more consistent roadblocks across the state to filter out and disincentivize the ‘bad actors.’

2. Licensure will give Massage Therapy more credibility.

Creating more legitimacy around massage therapy via licensing will reverberate through the wellness and medical fields and raise our credibility. This can have a multitude of effects from more referrals from doctors, therapists, and other wellness practitioners to more recognition and understanding from the general public about the range of healing we can offer.

3. Creates a voice for us within the framework of the state so we don’t get lost in the shuffle.

While I can understand some people’s argument to being outside the system (government) with the CAMTC and the option for certification giving us more freedom, there is something to be said for having a foot in the system as well. I think last year really showed us the stark truths of what it means to not have a voice within the government. For private practitioners, it was hard to apply for aid. For all of us, it was unclear as to when we were and were not allowed to practice with all the overlapping regulations. In the end, many of us were left to our own devices to figure out whether we could work or not.

4. More accessibility for ESL students.

For all the testing, study materials, and forms required for licensure the state will be required to offer translated versions so that students have access to the material in the language they are most comfortable. This was not the same requirement with the MBLEx through the CAMTC.

In conclusion, this is not meant to be the ultimate list of pros and cons (please let us know what you think we missed!), but it is meant to highlight the decision we have before us. Do we want to stick with the system we have had in place, or do we want to make a change? Whatever your thoughts, the time to act is now. Contact your California State Assembly member and let them what you think.

Please take the time to read it and do your own research. Thank you!


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