Legitimate Massage Therapists provide health benefits to consumers.
Massage therapists have worked diligently to distinguish themselves as professionals, and care about the well-being of their clients, and the reputations of their businesses.
Many citizens rely on Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapists to assist them in stress management, to control pain, and recover from injury or surgery. On average, consumers who frequent smaller massage therapy practices receive work twice a month or more.
Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapists contribute to the state economy.
Research estimates the North Carolina professional massage therapy industry generates over $126 million taxable dollars every year in therapist wages alone. Combine that with licensing fees, and several million dollars in commercial rents annually, massage therapy practices throughout the state contribute quite a lot to the North Carolina economy. As part of the legislation passed last year, massage therapists are also once again required to obtain an “Art of Healing” license, an additional yearly tax of $50.00 which places them in a category that includes osteopaths, chiropractors, dentists, and other medical professionals who are now offering massage services as part of their businesses, adding nearly a half-million dollars to the state coffers annually.
How can the media help?
We value the media as allies and advocates of legitimate, tax-paying businesses and members of our community. As such, on behalf of small licensed massage and bodywork therapy business owners, we seek to initiate productive discussion to protect both businesses and consumers.
We implore media professionals to use change the way they speak of trafficking, in an effort to differentiate law-abiding businesses from criminal enterprises.
- Refer to the victims that prove illicit services as trafficking victims or sex workers, not masseuses or massage therapists.
- When speaking about legitimate licensed massage therapists, do not use the word masseuse. That may be acceptable in France, where the term originated, but in the U.S., those terms are used to refer to people who provide illicit services, often in parlors as victims of trafficking.
- Instead, we ask that you use licensed professionals, Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapists (LMBTs), licensed therapists, and other such designations distinguishing us as It’s important that the public understand the difference and use the correct terminology, as this will help our profession be recognized as the legal allied healthcare professionals we are.
- When speaking of illegal businesses that provide sexual services under the guise of massage, we ask that you refer to those businesses as sex parlors, not massage parlors.
- As well, we ask that when referring to LMBT businesses, please use massage practice or massage therapy office not massage parlors.
- We ask that you help us educate the public to recognize that non-regulated foot parlors currently enjoyed by many consumers is where human traffickers will continue to groom the public and take money away from the state through money laundering practices.
- Recognize trafficking as a definition extends beyond sex to labor. We implore you to report labor abuse practices accordingly as they too could put a spotlight on human trafficking.
Perhaps investigative journalists or other media professionals can help find the solution to this problem that affects both human trafficking victims and Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapists.
- Could it be a total and complete Establishment Licensure for all businesses providing massage therapy, from single practitioner to large franchise, and encompassing the practice of reflexology and energy work into laws, similar to the License to Touch that the state of Florida has in place?
- Should the massage board look at shutting down places for infringing on the scope of practice through wrongful advertising of massage services such as openly advertising using words like “full body reflexology massage” to describe their services?
- Does the state need to involve lenders and property managers, and require them to make sure all businesses provide proper documentation from the Secretary of State?
- Should law enforcement officials look into using existing building codes and business license laws to proactively close down parlors?
These are just a few of the questions that Licensed Massage Therapists are pondering as they try to figure out how to insure the future of their profession, and how to protect the general public from unknowingly supporting traffickers. Perhaps someone in the media can help us uncover the answers to these questions and more.