MASSAGE THERAPY ACT, ACT 118 OF 2008 (AMENDED BY ACT 45 OF 2009)
“Massage therapy.” The application of a system of structured touch, pressure, movement, holding and treatment of the soft tissue manifestations of the human body in which the primary intent is to enhance the health and well-being of the client without limitation, except as provided in this act. The term includes the external application of water, heat, cold, lubricants or other topical preparations, lymphatic techniques, myofascial release techniques and the use of electro-mechanical devices which mimic or enhance the action of the massage techniques. The term does not include the diagnosis or treatment of impairment, illness, disease or disability, a medical procedure, a chiropractic manipulation – adjustment, physical therapy mobilization – manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, electrical stimulation, ultrasound or prescription of medicines for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatry or other practice of the healing arts is required.
“Reflexology.” The physical act of using thumbs, fingers and hand techniques to apply specific
pressure on the reflex area in the feet, hands or ears of the client.
Section 3. Board.
(a) Establishment.–There is established the State Board of Massage Therapy, an administrative board
within the department. The board shall consist of 11 members who are citizens of the United States and who have been residents of this Commonwealth for at least a five-year period prior to the effective date of this section. The board shall be composed of the following individuals:
(1) Two members who are members of the public.
(2) Six members who meet the educational and experience qualifications for licensure under section 5. No more than one member under this paragraph shall be an owner of a school that
provides instruction in massage therapy.
(3) The Secretary of Health or a designee.
(4) The Attorney General or a designee.
(5) The commissioner or a designee.
(b) Title.--An individual who holds a license or is maintained on inactive status may use the title “Licensed Massage Therapist” and the abbreviation “L.M.T.” No other individual may use the title “Licensed Massage Therapist” or the title “Massage Therapist” or hold oneself out to others as a massage therapist. This subsection includes advertising as a massage therapist and adopting or using any title or description, including massage therapist, massage practitioner, masseur, masseuse, myotherapist or a derivative of those terms and their related abbreviations, which implies directly or indirectly that massage services are being provided.
§ 20.41. Scope of practice.
(a) Massage therapists apply a system of structured touch, pressure, movement, holding and treatment of the soft tissue manifestations of the human body in which the primary intent is to enhance the health and well-being of the client. Massage therapy includes:
(1) The external application of water, heat, cold, lubricants and other topical preparations.
(2) Lymphatic techniques.
(3) Myofascial release techniques.
(4) The use of electro-mechanical devices which mimic or enhance the action of the massage techniques.
(b) Massage therapy practice does not include:
(1) The diagnosis or treatment of impairment, illness, disease or disability.
(2) Medical procedures.
(3) Chiropractic manipulation—adjustment.
(4) Physical therapy mobilization—manual therapy.
(5) Therapeutic exercise.
(6) Ordering or prescribing drugs or treatments for which a license to practice medicine, osteopathic medicine, nursing, podiatry, optometry, chiropractic, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other healing art is required.
(7) The application of high velocity/low amplitude force further defined as thrust techniques directed toward joint surfaces.
(8) The use of equipment or devices that require a prescription (for example, ultrasound, diathermy or electrical neuromuscular stimulation).
(c) Licensure under the act may not be construed as requiring new or additional third-party reimbursement or otherwise mandating coverage under 75 Pa.C.S. Chapter 17 (relating to financial responsibility) or the Workers’ Compensation Act (77 P. S. § § 1—1041.4 and 2501—2506).
CHAPTER 20. STATE BOARD OF MASSAGE THERAPY § 20.42. Standards of professional conduct.
(a) A massage therapist shall:
(1) Maintain current knowledge of the application of massage therapy, including indications, contraindications and precautions.
(2) Undertake a specific technique or use a product or equipment only if the massage therapist has the necessary knowledge, training or skill to competently execute the technique.
(3) Base decisions and actions on behalf of a client on sound ethical reasoning and current principles of practice.
(4) Provide treatment only where there is an expectation that it will be advantageous to the client.
(5) Refer to an appropriate health care professional when indicated in the interest of the client.
(6) Discuss with clients which massage therapy modalities and techniques will be utilized and the benefits of these modalities and techniques, the objectives, and that participation is voluntary and that consent to treatment or participation may be withdrawn at any time.
(7) Obtain written consent prior to performing breast massage.
(8) Modify or terminate the massage therapy session at any time upon request of the client.
(9) Keep client information private and confidential. This standard does not prohibit or affect reporting mandated under State or Federal law to protect children, older adults, or others.
(10) Use safe and functional coverage/draping practices during the practice of massage therapy when the client is disrobed. Safe and functional coverage/draping means that the client’s genitals and gluteal cleft and the breast area of female clients are not exposed and that massage or movement of the body does not expose genitals, gluteal cleft or breast area. With voluntary and informed consent of the client, the gluteal and breast drapes may be temporarily moved in order to perform treatment of the area.
(11) Act to safeguard clients from incompetent, abusive or illegal practices of other massage therapists or caregivers.
(12) Continuously maintain current CPR certification.
(13) Be clean, fully-clothed and professional in dress and appearance.
(14) Display the massage therapist’s current license with expiration date in a location clearly visible to clients or, when practicing offsite, display the massage therapist’s wallet card.
(15) Include the massage therapist’s license number in all advertisements.
(16) Conspicuously display the massage therapist’s name and the title L.M.T. or the words ‘‘Licensed Massage Therapist’’ on an identification badge or directly on clothing worn in the public areas where massage therapy services are being provided.
(17) Cooperate with the Board, the Department of State or the Bureau of Enforcement and Investigation in the investigation of complaints filed under the act.
(18) Provide massage therapy records immediately upon demand of the Board or its authorized agents.
(19) Maintain massage therapy records for at least 3 years from the last date that services were provided to the client.
(20) Educate clients about maintaining the beneficial effects of massage therapy treatment when indicated by a massage therapy treatment plan.
(21) Obtain the written permission of a parent or guardian, or their representative, prior to providing massage therapy services to a minor.
(22) Require that a parent or guardian, or their representative, be physically present in the room during treatment of a minor.
(b) A massage therapist may not:
(1) Psychologically or physically abuse a client.
(2) Violate a client’s boundaries with regard to exposure, privacy or disclosure.
(3) Utilize techniques that are contraindicated based on the client’s condition.
(4) Falsify or knowingly make incorrect entries into the client’s record or other related documents.
(5) Intentionally expose a client’s genitals, gluteal cleft or the breasts of a female client except temporarily to perform therapeutic treatment of the area.
(6) Engage in sexual harassment, sexual impropriety, sexual violation or sexual abuse.
(7) Engage in sexual intimacies during the professional relationship.
(8) Perform or offer to perform any services for clients other than those connected with giving massage therapy treatments as defined in section 2 of the act (63 P.S. § 627.2), unless the massage therapist has additional training and licensure, if required, to perform those services.
(9) Knowingly permit another individual to use the massage therapist’s license or temporary permit for any purpose.
(10) Knowingly aid, abet or assist another person to violate or circumvent a law or this chapter.
(11) Misappropriate equipment, materials, property or money from an employer or client.
(12) Refuse a client’s request for a refund for the unearned portion of prepaid or packaged massage therapy services. This provision does not apply to gift certificate purchases.
Section 15. Violation of act in the Massage Therapy Practice Act (PDF) states that: (a) General rule.–Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, a person that violates a provision of this act commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for not more than six months for the first violation and to pay a fine of not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for not less than six months nor more than one year, or both, for each subsequent violation.
(b) Civil penalty.–In addition to any other civil remedy or criminal penalty provided for in this act, the
board, by a vote of the majority of the maximum number of the authorized membership of the board or by a vote of the majority of the qualified and confirmed membership or a minimum of five members, whichever is greater, may levy a civil penalty of up to $10,000 on any of the following:
(1) A massage therapist who violates a provision of this act.
(2) A person that employs a massage therapist in violation of this act.
(3) An individual who holds himself out as a licensee without being properly licensed as
provided in this act.
(4) The responsible officers or employees of a corporation, partnership, firm or other
entity that violates a provision of this act.
State Board of Massage Therapy
PO Box 2649
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2649