What does being a “licensed” massage therapist mean?

In the state of Florida, every massage therapist is required to be a licensed massage therapist.

It is illegal for someone who is not an LMT (or other licensed healthcare provider who is allowed to do so such as a PT) to provide massage therapy services.

It doesn’t matter if it’s energy work such as reiki (in which a very light touch might be used) or a deep tissue session. No license? No touch.

Here is what the state of Florida does for massage therapists:

  • Defines massage (see my article on scope of practice)
  • Defines other terms as well
  • Sets the standard for the minimum amount of education and training that’s required
  • Requires a background check and fingerprinting
  • Determines how much continuing education is needed to renew a license
  • Regulates where massage can be performed
  • Regulates and inspects the establishments where massage takes place
  • Determines fees involved for the process of applying for a license and subsequent renewal
  • Determines penalties for breaking the rules
  • Helps keep the public safe

In the State of Florida your massage therapist has been thru an accredited massage therapy program, been thoroughly background checked, sat thru and passed the state board exam, and paid the fees, and if they’ve renewed their license at least once, has taken additional hours of education every 2 years.

So what is the difference?

Once that is said and done there can be an enormous difference between therapists.

A therapist can do no massages, or 2-3 massages a week, or they can be a full time therapist and see 15-25 clients a week.

A therapist can choose to do continuing education in a wide variety of modalities, techniques, etc. Want to learn how to do full body scrubs? Great. Apply crystals to different chakras? Sure, there’s a class for that. Learn Qi Gong? Yep. Manipulate the musculature involved in TMJ dysfunction? Now, that’s my kind of class!

A therapist can work for themselves or work for someone else, and most do both.

One of the reasons I’m different is because I solely have focused on medical massage since 2010. The years before that (I graduated on 03) I was 60% medical massage and 40% relaxation massage. That means that I have worked with more complicated cases than a massage therapist who mostly does relaxation massage with the occasional rehabilitative work. I also have been in this career much longer than the average therapist. (The longevity of our careers is 2-5 years, on average.)

My continuing education has gone far about the minimum amount of hours, and I’ve chosen more challenging and complex studies that demand a deeper knowledge of anatomy and physiology, myology (the study of muscles), pathology, etc. I’ve even done some classes that are post-graduate courses for chiropractors and PTs (providers who have a much more intense training than a massage therapy program at a trade school).

Does that make me better?

It makes me better at working with high-risk populations that need extra training to be safely worked on. It makes me better at working with people who have conditions I’ve helped hundreds of times. It makes me better at educating and empowering my clients.

But guess what?

I am not the person you want to see for a spa day.

The therapists out there who have perfected an incredible relaxation massage are AMAZING. And what they do has huge value. That’s what puts the sparkle in their eyes.

Mine just sparkle more for complicated cases where I can improve quality of life for someone. That’s all.

I’m not better or worse than other therapists. I charge more due to my experience, level of training, and additional education. I charge more because I have equipment in my office that other massage therapists cannot afford. I charge more because I spend more time with my clients. (My first visit is 2 hours. Up to an hour of that is therapeutic work. That means we have an hour to discuss things and get to know you and your goals, as opposed to the 2-3 minutes you’ll have with a franchise therapist.)

If you’re ready to schedule an initial visit with me, click the link to book a massage online (at the bottom of all my pages), or call 941-676-3433.