Shiatsu Cave
Massage & Bodywork for Women

Alliance for Legislation of Massage Therapy

Haven't heard anything for 2017 yet!  (2-16-17)  the  MN AMTA took over from ABMP on emailing out status of where the bill is at.

The Legislative session starts March 5, 2016.

The Alliance for Legislation of Massage Therapy, their blog found at this site:

Some of the reasons why it never passes may be the $285 initial registration fee which requires proof of hours of education followed by an annual fee of $185 may not necessarily take the place of city by city fees.  Some other reasons include the grand-father clause being too lenient and hours that do not match national requirements.

City of Anoka charges $500 annually for a business license, and then a separate $125 for a practice license.  So, if you are a sole proprietor and the only one practicing at your business: $625, which I've watched eventually close many hopeful therapeutic massage start ups in Anoka.   The same license allows massage in salons, chiropractic offices and others, for instance even hospitals (patients turn in better surveys!) without paying the $500 fee if they can claim that massage is only 1/3 of their business.  So, all in all $285, plus $185, plus $500, plus $125. That's the first year, but then following years $810 annually.  Too much!

It is very simple to license by education, rather than price.  

If it's real professional regulation that Anoka really wants, the right thing to do would be set hours at 500 for massage therapy, 750 for bodywork, or 1,250 for massage & bodywork.   

Under the old  MN CAM (complimentary alternative medicine) law anyone in Minnesota can practice massage with 45 hours of training.  

The current national standard (but not law) for therapeutic massage & bodywork is 500hrs of Western therapeutic massage and 750hrs of bodywork, or Eastern styles.

The combined basic 1,250 hrs of training can cost upwards of $20,000-$35,000, plus a good couple of years lost full time income while attending school.   Most states who have departments of professional regulation for massage & bodywork also require a certain number of hours of continuing education, and most enthusiasts will go on to study a number of different western and eastern massage & bodywork disciplines including spending time in locations like Thailand where some of the most amazing forms of massage & bodywork can be studied, practiced and enjoyed very reasonably.  So, one can really add up a ridiculous number of hours spent learning massage & bodywork. 

The darker side of the CAM law is that while it provides a safety net for gifted healers with natural skills but very little state approved professional training, it provides a green light for illegal operations.  No illegal operation is going to bother with expense of education and devoting 1,250 hours of study time when they can pay a one time city fee, or just keep moving to locations where there are no city licensing requirements.

The way cities could handle this is go by the national requirements, for instance everyone practicing therapeutic massage legally in Anoka already has national requirements for education which immediately weeds out illegal operations.  City of Anoka could set the hours for state approved education at least 500 hrs for massage therapy, or 1,250 for combined Eastern & Western forms but it's currently set at only 125 hrs.  

That cities charge license fees as high as $2,000 in some cases (Fridley) is not so much anymore because they are concerned about illegal operations as it is because they can - they could have at any time used the national hours as a guideline and that would have taken care of any illegal activity quick, fast and in a hurry.  


 The bill:

One of the hold ups, at least in this one case - there are other groups with other concerns - and this is a good thing, has been CenterPoint School of Massage & Shiatsu in St Louis Park have been working to make the bill more comprehensive by adding shiatsu bodywork to the massage bill, something other states never included, and other massage schools rarely offer.  Some states under their old State boards of health professional regulation shiatsu and other Asian and Oriental massage practices are banned because of no specific language for real therapeutic practice.  The co-owner of CenterPoint studied and practiced Japan's National and traditional shiatsu for a number of years both in Japan and California.   

A couple of years ago the fight was down to who owned or who might include moxibustion therapy!  Moxibustion is an ancient practice introduced to the Chinese by the Mongols about a gazillion years ago (ancient heat therapy on the plains), who would twist up a rope of the weed mugwort and burn it to create heat close to the skin for certain ailments.  It's a smoky, wonderful scent, lots of fun and feels really good.  I can't remember what the arguments were about exactly, but anyway...  The fight to get a state board of professional regulation going for massage & bodywork has been a long one, more than 20 years. 

Shiatsu only came to the states in the early 1970s in a popular way.  Swedish had already been the standard therapeutic practice for more than a 100 years.  Students learned under Swedish masters.  In the 1970s the heart of the country was enjoying Swedish, while places like New York, Florida and California were just being introduced to shiatsu.  

Over the years many of the states that rushed to develop boards of professional regulation for massage never factored in definition for Oriental/Asian styles, which include some of the most important styles, Tui Na from China, shiatsu from Japan, Ayurvedic massage from India, Thai massage and the varied Pacific Island forms of bodywork including Hawaii's Lomi-lomi - catch the wave.   Not enough people really knew that much about these master-student lineages. 

For many, wow Minnesota is like the wild west of professional regulation, anyone can set up camp.  Some from the master lineage would probably never lower themselves to be bothered with professional regulation, they just don't believe in it, and they are right massage and bodywork is a living evolving system. Yet on the other hand!!! 

To go way back in history, the AMA, American Medical Association was developed under this kind of drive for professional regulation vs honor system approach to professional regulation for those practicing medicine around the turn of the 20th century,   There were 2 camps battling it out, the Holistic medicine crowd (Homeopathy), already enjoying the reputation of being known as regular doctors, and the newly formed American Medical Association for who would later win the title of being known as regular doctors.  Prior to this battle there were hardly any regulations, doctors didn't feel them necessary, couldn't really imagine at the time there would be a takeover.  The AMA used the loose interpretation of law regarding practice of medicine at the time, fabulous funding and brilliant if not bullying strategy *seeding the existing schools with select board members to win over the coveted term "regular doctor".

In the 1884 transactions of the 37th session of the American Institute of Homeopathy - 41st anniversary held at Deer Park MD, June 17th, 18, 19, 20, 1884 opens with a definition of a regular doctor "A regular physician, a graduate of a regularly chartered medical college.  The term also applies to a person practicing the healing arts in accordance with the laws of the country in which he resides."  The institute had been started in 1844 and Homeopathy was pretty much the standard.  The idea with Homeopathy is there is a life force that can be met with a complementary life force in plant based medicine and natural therapeutics.  Ok, fine, but then by 1910 or so most of these 38+ schools and and many more operating as *holistic hospitals had been almost completely changed over to American Medical Association hospitals.

It was a well designed and funded takeover.      

Still a working formula!


Feb 19, 2016 - (a forwarded email below - I like the part about about no city license overlapping, already!)

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals

Serving the massage therapy community since 1987 through practice support,
ethical standards, legislative advocacy, and public education.


Minnesota Voluntary Credentialing Bill Status – Contact your Legislators Before the Legislative Session Starts

As mentioned in our prior update, the Minnesota voluntary credentialing bill for massage therapists did not pass last year. However, the bill will be considered again this year in the Minnesota House of Representatives as House File 644, along with companion bill Senate File 1310. Representative Nick Zerwas is the chief author of HF 644 and there are over 25 co-authors.


If passed, the bill would: 


·     Create a voluntary state credential - practitioners voluntarily choosing to register would be allowed to use the specific title "Registered Massage and Bodywork Therapist", or RMBT.


·     Therapists who opt to obtain the RMBT registration would then be exempted from having to obtain multiple mandatory city licenses for each locality in which they work. Their RMBT registration would allow them to work in every MN locality without any additional local massage license.


Please visit the Alliance for Legislation of Massage Therapy (ALMT) website here for more details and discussion of the proposed legislation.


The legislative session begins March 8. We urge you to contact legislators now, before the session begins, to let them know that you support this bill. 


It is important to reach out to the legislators on the key committees, which are:


House: Government Operations, Civil Law and Data Practices. Key legislators to reach in the House are Representatives

Tim Sanders (ph: 651-296-4226, email: and

Peggy Scott (ph: 651-296-4231, email:


Senate:  Health, Human Services and Housing (Chair Kathy Sheran, ph:  (651) 296-6153, email:; 

State and Local Government: (Senator Patricia Torres Ray, ph (651) 296-4274) and

Judiciary: (Senator Ron Latz, ph: (651) 297-8065).


We also urge you to contact the legislators for your district. Click here to locate your state legislators.


Let the legislators know that the current patchwork system of local licensing is burdensome, complicated, and expensive for massage therapists, and that a voluntary state credential would remove overlapping, redundant regulatory barriers in our profession while maintaining professional standards to ensure public safety. 


We will keep you updated on the status of the bill as it progresses. 

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May 31, 2016

Minnesota Voluntary Credentialing Bill Failed


The Minnesota voluntary credentialing bill for massage therapists failed in the state legislature. The bill, House File 644, along with companion bill Senate File 1310, sought to create a voluntary massage therapy credential in the state which would have allowed massage therapists to register with the state as a "Registered Massage and Bodywork Therapist," or RMBT, if they chose to do so, in order to be exempted from having to obtain multiple mandatory city licenses for each locality in which they work. 


The Alliance for Legislation of Massage Therapy (ALMT) worked diligently on the bill for many months, but ultimately the bill was defeated. The result is that massage and bodywork therapies will not have statewide regulation in Minnesota in the near future. HF644/SF1310 progressed further than any prior legislative effort for voluntary credentialing in Minnesota, and proponents of a voluntary system will have future opportunities to have their voices heard.


May 31, 2016










Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals
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