LOWER SACKVILLE, NS – You might be surprised to know that just about anyone can call themselves a ‘massage therapist’, regardless of their training or experience.
Aside from highlighting the services and skills massage therapists provide in this province during Massage Therapy Awareness Week, the Massage Therapy Association of Nova Scotia (MTANS) has a a big request – they want the government to regulate their industry.
“We’re on our third attempt to try and get legislated in this province,” said Melanie Dumaresq, a spokeswoman for the MTANS.
Physiotherapists and chiropractors are regulated in Nova Scotia, something massage therapists have asked for, but haven’t seen happen yet.
The association’s last meeting with the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness was in August of 2014.
“They asked us questions about legislation, risk of harm, and safety to the public,” said Dumaresq. “However, since then it’s kind of come to a standstill.”
The health department issued a statement acknowledging the meetings and the information the massage therapists gave them.
“We will continue to review this information, but at this time, no decisions have been made,” the statement reads.
Sarah West-Andrews has been a massage therapist for 12 years, but the lack of government regulation bothers her.
“We’d like to see ourselves be more involved in things like research, and (we) could be taken seriously when it comes to findings and different avenues and growth of the health industry in general,” she said. “And we’re really being stymied a bit by not having this designation.”
West-Andrews says many clients don’t realize massage therapists are not regulated.
Alisha Lebouthillier is a client of hers who says the lack of regulation is worrisome.
“As a person receiving massage, I would hope that it would be regulated because you are in a very vulnerable situation, you’re entrusting someone to impact your health,” she said.
Once approved, massage therapists must form a professional organization to become registered, before legislation can be introduced which would set standards.
“The insurance companies typically demand a 2,200-hour course, and to be a member of an association, in order (for RMTs) to be able to direct bill,” Dumaresq said.
That makes it difficult for anyone who is not a certified massage therapist to collect payments, unless it’s through a cash transaction.
Regulating the industry, would protect clients as well as the massage therapists themselves.
“If something were to happen to them they could seek some sort of remediation for whatever action had happened,” said Dumaresq.