Massage therapists in North Carolina attend an approved massage school and must pass a licensing exam in order to become licensed as a massage therapist. They also undergo a criminal background check. Massage therapy in NC is defined as: Systems of activity applied to the soft tissues of the human body for therapeutic, educational, or relaxation purposes. The application may include:
a. Pressure, friction, stroking, rocking, kneading, percussion, or passive or active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement.
b. Complementary methods, including the external application of water, heat, cold, lubricants, and other topical preparations.
c. The use of mechanical devices that mimic or enhance actions that may possibly be done by the hands.
Massage therapists in NC may call themselves various names such as a massage and bodywork therapist “massage therapist” “bodywork therapist”, “masseur”, “masseuse”, “massagist”, “somatic practitioner”, “body therapist”, “structural integrator”, or any derivation of those terms that implies this practice.
How do you find a legitimate, Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist (LMBT) in North Carolina?
Look for a license number. All LMBTs are required by law to use their license number in any advertising they do. It should be easy to find on their website. If it is a group practice or spa, the website and advertising must say “Provided by North Carolina Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapists”. If you do not see a license number listed on the website, it is perfectly okay to call and ask for a therapist’s LMBT number before you schedule a massage. Licensure is a legal requirement in the State of North Carolina. Those who are practicing massage and bodywork therapy without a license after January 1, 2001 will be in violation of G.S. 90-634 of the Practice Act, and may be subject to disciplinary action or prosecution.
All LMBTs are also required to display their North Carolina License in their place of practice. You can verify all licenses by name or license number and discover if there are any rule violations on the License Verification page on the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy website.
Massage therapists in NC must also include important information in any advertising that they do as per the law:
As specified in Rule .0404, there are three basic elements which are required to include in all advertising and promotion of a massage therapy business in NC:
1. Their First and Last Name with the last name always being consistent with their massage license;
2. Their Professional designation; Using either the initials LMBT, or the full version – Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist;
3. Your North Carolina License Number; Use one of the below formats.
Allan R. Campbell
Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist (NC #395)
Diane Martinez, LMBT
NC License #2810
Massage therapy is a taxable service in NC and require that a massage business obtain a priveledge license. The privilege license tax was made effective for taxable years beginning July 1, 2018 and is through the NC Department of Revenue. The privilege license needs to be obtained by all licensed massage and bodywork therapists which grants you the privilege of practicing in the massage and bodywork therapy profession. Counties and cities may not levy any license tax on the business or professions taxed under the Art of Healing.
If there is ever a question about misconduct with a Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapist, you can report it to the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy.
According to rule § 90-632.19. Human trafficking public awareness sign.
The Board may require that a massage and bodywork therapy establishment prominently display on
the premises in a place that is clearly conspicuous and visible to employees and the public a public
awareness sign created and provided by the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission that contains the National Human Trafficking Resource hotline information.
How Do You Find a Professional Reflexologist in North Carolina?
Currently, there are no laws governing the practice of Reflexology in the state of North Carolina. Because of this, all you need to open a reflexology practice is a business license from the state. This loophole makes it easy for traffickers to use this modality as a front for their criminal activity.
While our massage board is currently working to change this, it is important for you as a consumer to know how to find legitimate providers.
There are professional associations guiding the practice of reflexology, which all have standards for professional members. The North Carolina Reflexology Association (NCRA) and the Reflexology Association of America (RAA) have requirements for their membership. All association members must have completed a reflexology-only course of at least 300 hours, with at least 160 of those hours completed live in a classroom, which must be provided via documentation to the associations with the membership applications.
The American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB) provides the designation of National Board Certified Reflexologist (NBCR), which can be obtained by successfully passing a 300-questionexam, submitting documents proving performance of 90 treatment sessions, and completing a hands-on practical exam. Those holding this title must also complete 24 hours of approved continuing education biennially.
Some professionals choose to designate their status by using post nominal letters after their names. Those designations are CR (Certified Reflexologist) and NBCR (Nationally Board Certified Reflexologist)
You can search for professional members in your area using these links:
What About Other Types of Energy Work?
Traditional Eastern Medicine operates under the premise that the human body has energetic pathways running throughout it. Energy Work is a blanket term for any therapy that creates subtle changes in our energy field, which extends beyond the body, guiding recipients to regain balance and heal their bodies. Often based in ancient healing traditions, energy work generally focuses on improving emotional and spiritual health, which affects our physical well-being. These modalities can include Reiki, Reflexology, Polarity Craniosacral, Kinesiology, Acupuncture, Acupressure, Chakra Balancing, Qi Gong, Vibrational Healing, Color Healing, and more. Generally, the energy is channeled to the receiver through the practitioner, removing blocks to a healthy energy flow within the body. A practitioner’s own energy can be part of the inputs to the client, and, based on their training and tools used.
Because many of these modalities are new to people in the United Sates, it can be challenging finding trained professionals when you are looking for alternative methods of healing. From what we can find, there are no agencies regulating most forms of energy work. While there are professional organizations that provide training, most of these modalities are not controlled or regulated by state or federal government. Additionally, most associations related to energy work do not require education to be a member, although most provide insurance for some modalities and a code of conduct for members use of the site. Unfortunately, this leaves the public in a vulnerable position when seeking a trustworthy provider.
When searching for the practitioners and tools that best work for you, follow these guidelines:
- Get a referral from a friend, family member, or health professional you know and trust.
- Ask for and verify practitioner’s education, experience, and licensure, if applicable.
- Look for an online presence. Is there a website? Do they have any connections to any professional groups, the chamber of commerce, or any other local organization?
- Ask to stop by and meet them and see their practice space before scheduling an appointment.
- Search the internet for the business and practitioner’s names and see what comes up.
The Energy Medicine Professional Association, which requires an education certificate to become insured with them, has a practitioner directory which can provide some guidance on finding a reputable practitioner.
The International Energetic Healing Association is made up of practitioners, businesses, students, and community members with a practitioner search page. Note: from what we can tell, they do not have a professional requirement.
The Healing Touch Professional Association provides information on its’ practitioners, as well as a thorough list of organizations that support energy workers.
Any good practitioner should be more than happy to provide you with information about their practice and their business. Your well-being should be of the utmost importance!
Find out if the business is legitimate
- Is the business registered and listed with the North Carolina Secretary of State or with your County Register of Deeds? Here are links to the search pages for the top three counties in the state for Human Trafficking: Wake County, Mecklenburg County, and New Hanover County . For all other counties, please do a web search for your county’s registry of deeds. If you cannot find the business name listed under any category, they may be operating illegally.
- Is the business registered but dissolved? Technically the business is closed, so why is it still in operation?
See “Is This Trafficking” for typical signs to look for when deciding if the business is legitimate.
Do you Suspect Illegal Activity?
Do you suspect the business is operating illegally? Report it!
- Submit a tip by filing a complaint with the NC Secretary of State.
- File A complaint with the NC Attorney General.
- Is the business providing unlicensed touch? Report them to the NC Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy by emailing admin@BMBT.org.
- Any place operating without proper business paperwork is suspect to trafficking practices. Contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
- The Federal Trade Commission accepts complaints regarding fraud and unfair business practices.
- Other reporting options: NC Secretary of State General Counsel.
Report all suspicions to authorities. They can assist you with next steps. In any instance beside emergencies, our group can assist you with the reporting process. But know in advance it is a very simple process that takes very little time.
At this time, there are no consequences for storefront businesses that operate without registration. Contact your legislators and ask them to create laws that prevent storefront businesses from operating without business registration.
Are you Looking For Specific Touch Services?
North Carolina has some confusing laws in regards to which touch services can only be provided by licensed professionals. Make sure you choose someone who is operating within the law.
North Carolina Professionals
All information you need to legally practice massage and bodywork therapies in North Carolina can be found in the Document Center of the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy (NC BMBT).
Please view the full NC BMBT page for all requirements for licensure.
Requirements for all licensed professionals can be found within the Practice Act. The following is an excerpt from the Board guidelines for approved examinations for acquiring licensure in NC:
“8 Approval of examinations required for licensure.
The Board approves the following examinations to meet the examination requirement for licensure set forth in G.S. 90-629(5) and G.S. 90-630.1(b):
1.8.1 The National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage (NCETM), and the NESL options for the NCETMB and NCETM examinations, from any applicant who has graduated from an in-state school and has passed an exam on or before December 31, 2010.
1.8.2 The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) that administers the Asian Bodywork Therapy Examination (ABTE).
1.8.3 The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx) administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB).
1.8.4 The National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB), the National Certification Examination in Therapeutic Massage (NCETM), and the NESL options for the NCETMB and NCETM examinations, will be accepted from any applicant who has graduated from an out-of-state school.
(Adopted January 6, 2000; revised July 13, 2000; August 30, 2001; October 20,
2005; February 19, 2009; revised October 21, 2010)”
Modalities requiring licensure
The NC BMBT requires licensure for many bodywork modalities (PDF). Make sure you are practicing within the law. Non-licensed practitioners may be subject to censure by the Board.
North Carolina requires Continuing Education (or Continuing Competency under the proposed regulations) for license renewal. Failure to obtain these hours will result in a lapsed license. Continuing to practice with a lapsed license may make you subject to civil penalties from the Board.
As of 5\5\18, before regulatory changes occur, you are required to have 24 hours continuing education every renewal period. A maximum of 12 may be distance learning, and maximum 8 may be business management. Three (3) must be ethics hours.
If a course is advertised as offered by an “Approved Provider”, you may confirm this by contacting the NCBTMB at 1-800-296-0664.
A comprehensive listing of Continuing Education Courses available in the North Carolina Region (NC, SC, GA, TN) is available via the Professional Education Resource Guide.
North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork
4140 ParkLake Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27612
Mon. – Fri. 9:00am – 4:00pm