By the Division of Professional Licensure

It has come to the attention of the Board of Registration of Massage Therapy ("Board") that there are applicants for Individual Licensure as massage therapists and/or massage therapy school administrators who are expressing some confusion as to what courses may be taken to satisfy the regulatory requirements of 269 CMR 3.01 (2)(e)(2). Specifically, applicants have inquired as to whether courses, such as Reflexology, CPR, Polarity, etc., taken at licensed massage therapy schools will satisfy the requirement that applicants complete "300 hours in supervised in classroom Massage Theory and Technique."

Please be advised that:

269 CMR 3.01 (2)(e)(2) specifically states:

"For those individuals who apply for licensure after May 1, 2010, the course of study shall include a minimum of 650 classroom hours or an equivalent number of credit hours of supervised instruction at a Licensed Massage School .

At a minimum, the 650 course of study shall include 550 hours of academic courses, including 100 hours in the Anatomy and Physiology of the Body; 45 hours in Pathology; 45 hours in Kinesiology; 300 hours in supervised in classroom Massage Theory and Technique ; and 60 hours in Ethics, Professionalism and Business Practices. Additionally, the 650 hour course of study shall include 100 hours of unpaid and supervised clinical or internship experience…" (emphasis added)

269 CMR 2.00 further defines "Massage" as:

"The systematic treatment of the soft tissues of the body by use of pressure, friction, stroking, percussion, kneading, vibration by manual or mechanical means, range of motion for purposes of demonstrating muscle excursion or muscle flexibility and nonspecific stretching. Massage therapy may include the use of oil, ice, hot and cold packs, tub, shower, steam, dry heat or cabinet baths, in which the primary intent is to enhance or restore the health and well-being of the client."

269 CMR 2.00 also clearly exempts from the definition of "Massage"

"…the practice of a person who uses touch, words or directed movement to deepen awareness of the patterns of movement in the body, or the affectation of the human energy system or acupoints or Qi meridians of the human body while engaged within the scope of practice of a profession with established standards and ethics, including, but not limited to, the Feldenkrais Method, Reflexology, The Trager Approach, Ayurvedic Therapies, Rolf Structural Integration, Polarity or Polarity Therapy, Polarity Therapy Bodywork, Asian Bodywork Therapy that does not constitute Massage as defined in M.G.L. c. 135, Acupressure, Jin Shin Do, Qi Gong, Tui Na, Shiatsu, Body-mind Centering and Reiki. For purposes of 269 CMR et seq., the use of the term "Massage" shall also mean the term "Massage therapy" . (emphasis added)

Furthermore, in an attempt to give applicants guidance as to what courses would be accepted to meet the 650 hours course of study requirement, the Board, on March 31, 2009, posted on its website the "Curriculum Guidelines For Applications Received After May 1, 2010." The guidelines state that in order to meet the 300 Hours of Massage Theory and Technique requirements, the courses must include:

"Effects of touch and massage techniques:

  • Identify and describe the physiological effects of touch and specific massage.
  • Identify and describe potential emotional effects of touch and specific massage techniques.
  • Define and describe the interpersonal and physical components of a therapeutic environment
  • Develop competency in musculoskeletal palpation and pain assessment skills relating to the appropriate application of massage techniques.
  • Develop a safe and effective treatment plan, based on client goals, assessment findings, and understanding of effects of massage.
  • Write clear, concise and accurate notes of client treatment sessions.
  • Demonstrate commonly recognized techniques that are within the scope of practice and training for massage therapy disciplines. Demonstrate techniques that are appropriate for each body area, including endangerment sites.
  • Demonstrate the use of draping during treatment as a professional boundary
  • Identify and practice appropriate methods of sanitation and personal hygiene in the performance of massage sessions.


  • Identify and describe the effect of physical fitness and life style habits on the performance of massage techniques.
  • Identify and demonstrate biomechanical skills necessary for the safe and effective performance of massage techniques."

Therefore, the Board issues this Advisory Ruling to inform all applicants for Individual Licensure of the Board's intent to strictly enforce the regulatory requirements of 269 CMR 3.00. As such, in order to comply with the " 300 hours in supervised in classroom Massage Theory and Technique" requirement of 269 CMR 3.01 (2)(e)(2), applicants must take courses that meet the definition of "Massage," as defined in 269 CMR 2.00. Failure to do so may result in the denial of the application for Individual Licensure.

This Advisory Ruling is issued pursuant to a determination made by a majority of members present at the duly called meeting of the Board of Registration of Massage Therapy on August 20, 2010.