Georgia and the Canadian Province of Quebec are good models of how state legislators should process requests for licensure of massage. They did surveys which showed that massage did NOT harm people. So, they did NOT regulate massage.
In states, which have Sunrise Laws, legislators do not have to do research to find out whether massage is harmful. Those who promote licensure are required to provide the legislators with convincing evidence that:
1. The unlicensed profession is a serious danger to the public health and safety;
2. State licensing will adequately protect the public health and safety; and
3. No other means can also protect the public health and safety.
This means that those, who promote licensure to protect the public from harm, must have good evidence that harm occurs before they promote licensure to protect the public from harm.
That is not what happened in Pennsylvnaia. The Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition began to promote licensure on the assumption (first announced in July of 1995) that licensure was needed "first and foremost to protect the public from harm." That was more than two and a half years ago. The Coalition has not yet provided convincing evidence that massage therapists have harmed anybody.
If massage therapists do indeed harm people in Pennsylvania, it would be dangerous to get a massage in Pennsylvania because this would be the only state in which massage therapists harm people.
What happened in
Georgia and Quebec
In October, 1997, the Georgia Legislative Occupational Regulation Review Council issued its Review of Senate Bill 300 Which Proposes to Regulate Massage Therapists. This Review reported research, which the Council had done, and concluded:
"There is no documented evidence of actual harm to the public... The potential for harm to the public appears to be remote and would not be alleviated by licensing."
In the Province of Quebec, the Office des professions conducted an extensive 2-year research project on the need to regulate alternative professions in the Province of Quebec. A part of the study covered massage. The report of the Office des professions concluded:
"It is not necessary to regulate alternative therapies, including massage therapy, because they do not represent any serious harm to the public."
What happened in
After alleging for more than two and a half years that licensure is needed "first and foremost to protect the public from harm,"promoters of licensure are now circulating a petition to find out whether harm occurs.
The absence of evidence of harm has been one basis for vigorous opposition to Senate Bill 1171. Some opponents of Senate Bill 1171 have been informing members of the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, and other legislators that
1. Licensure for massage therapists and other bodyworkers has been promoted by the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition which alleged that "Licensure is" needed "first and foremost to protect the public from harm."
2. Senate Bill 1171 resulted from the above-mentioned promotion by the Coalition.
3. The Coalition had not replied to several requests to identify the harm from which it wants to protect the public.
4. Research has provided considerable evidence that massage therapists and other bodyworkers do not harm people.
5. Because there is no harm, Pennsylvania does not need Senate Bill 1171 to protect its citizens from harm.
"A Cry in the Wilderness"
The Balanced Body is the quarterly newsletter of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association (PA-AMTA). The December, 1997, issue of this newsletter includes eight articles on Senate Bill 1171 and on the need to support this bill. One of the eight articles is A Cry in the Wilderness.
The author, Barbara Mikos, is the PA-AMTA officer of Government Relations and Fundraising, and the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition.
In A Cry in the Wilderness, Barbara Mikos wrote: "I guarantee you, those in vocal opposition are being heard NOW and if they are the only voices speaking on this issue [Senate Bill 1171], the legislators will think there is no support for our profession to be licensed."
Barbara Mikos' "guarantee" tells us state legislators are well aware of the opposition to Senate Bill 1171.
This is good news for those who have been opposing Senate Bill 1171.
The title A Cry in the Wilderness indicates Barbara Mikos' concern that not enough PA-AMTA members are voicing support for Senate Bill 1171 to counteract the opposition. This suggests that many PA-AMTA members may not want Senate Bill 1171 which PA-AMTA is supporting.
This is also good news for those who have been opposing Senate Bill 1171.
The search for harm
The December 1997 issue of The Balanced Body includes a questionnaire which requests information from PA-AMTA members about harm, etc. and is to be returned to Barbara Mikos. The questionnaire reads as follows:
In our continuing effort to obtain licensure for massage therapists, somatic practitioners and reflexologists in Pennsylvania, we need your help in compiling information on the following questions. Please take some time to provide whatever information you can, and return the questionnaire to Barbara Mikos, 910 Bridge St., New Cumberland, PA 17070 or fax it to her at (717) 774-4002.
1) Do you have any documentation of a client suffering any form of harm from a treatment, including (a) financial harm by practitioners who misrepresented themselves, (b) physical harm, and (c) sexually inappropriate behavior?
2) Do you know of any instances in which the safety of the public has been jeopardized by untrained practitioners?
3) Are you working with a chiropractor, doctor or dentist in a health care facility? If so, where?
4) Have doctors, chiropractors or dentists referred patients to you?
5) Have you read any articles stating harm has been done by untrained practitioners or any articles about the need to license our profession? Please give the names and dates of these publications.
Your name, address, phone and fax numbers:
1. Documentation of physical harm should require as much of the following information as possible.
(a) the names and locations of practitioners and clients involved in cases of harm.
(b) the nature and seriousness of the injuries. (c) evidence that the injuries were indeed caused by the practitioners.
(d) the modality, training, and years of experience of the practitioners.
(e) whether personal injury claims were filed in court and; if so, when and where, and how were the claims resolved.
(f) whether the injured individuals sought medical treatment; and, if so, from which doctors, and what treatments were provided.
(g) where the above-mentioned documentation of each case is available so that it can be independently verified by other interested parties.
2. The term misrepresent needs clarification. What criteria identify misrepresentation? What titles are used by people who allegedly misrepresent themselves? Why is their use of these titles misrepresentation?
3. Is a self-taught massage therapist who has been practicing massage for several years, who has had many satisfied clients, and who has never harmed anybody) misrepresenting herself by calling herself a massage therapist? If so, why? Some self-taught massage therapists have more years of experience than graduates of state-accredited massage schools.
4. Without a definition of an untrained practitioners, how do respondents to the questionnaire identify and differentiate trained from untrained practitioners?
5. Is a self-taught massage therapist (who has been practicing massage for several years, who has had many satisfied clients, and who has never harmed anybody) untrained? If so, why? Some self-taught massage therapists have more years of experience than graduates of state-accredited massage schools.
6. Why does the petition focus on so-called untrained practitioners when there is convincing evidence that massage therapists, regardless of their training, do not harm people?
7. Why doesn't the request for "any instances in which the safety of the public has been jeopardized by untrained practitioners" require documented information of those instances?
8. If there is no documented evidence of harm, how has the safety of the public been jeopardized by untrained practitioners?
9. What is the estimated total amount of $$$$ that Senate Bill 1171, if enacted, will require each practitioner to pay annually?
10. Why don't proponents of licensure give this $$$$ information to those whom they want to support Senate Bill 1171?
11. Will the information, obtained from the questionnaire, be published in the PA-AMTA newsletter or elsewhere so that PA-AMTA members, legislators, and others can find out what harm, if any, was uncovered?
Questions about Senate Bill 1171
12. How can Senate Bill 1171 reduce the likelihood of massage therapists' harming people? So many Pennsylvania massage therapists (who have been practicing for so many years without Senate Bill 117) have not harmed people. So many massage therapists (who have been practicing in Georgia, Quebec, and elsewhere for so many years without regulation) have also not harmed people.
13. What evidence is there that the educational requirements of Senate Bill 1171 will produce massage therapists and other bodyworkers who are more competent (in terms of on-the-job performance) than those who have been practicing in Pennsylvania for so many years without having met any educational requirements?
14. Senate Bill 1171 requires a written examination. What evidence is there that test scores on any written examination have any relevance to a practitioner's competence in terms of on-the-job performance?
15. What disadvantages and problems, if any, have massage therapists and other bodyworkers in Pennsylvania actually experienced to date that Senate Bill 1171 will allegedly protect them from?
16. And what is the evidence that Senate Bill 1171 will indeed provide that protection?
If I have misrepresented the position of the Pennsylvania Licensure Coalition and/or the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association, please let me know where and how I have done that, and I will publish appropriate corrections.
Schatz, A. Follow the money trail to find out why scare tactics tell us secular massage is harmful. Journal of Spiritual Bodywork. Special Issue No. 4. pp. 1-14. 1997.
Schatz, A. Pennsylvania does not need Senate Bill 1171 to regulate massage. Pennsylvania needs deregulation. Massage Law Newsletter. 2(4):1-4. 1997.
Schatz, A., Tillotson, A., and Brewster, M. Since massage does not cause harm, why license massage therapists to prevent harm? All that glitters is not gold. Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 2(2):1-5. 1996.
Schatz, A. The Georgia AMTA's data reveal that massage is safe, not harmful. Licensure is not needed to protect the public from harm which does not occur. Schatz, A. Spiritual Massage Ministry Newsletter. 3(2):1-4, 1998.
Schatz, A. Pennsylvania does not need Senate Bill 1171 to regulate massage. Pennsylvania needs deregulation. Massage Law Newsletter. 2(4):1-4.1997.