Much Ado about Licensing

By November 14, 2019Uncategorized

By: David Comings, Director of Legislation

If you have been reading my articles recently, you are well aware of the drive by state legislatures to control “human trafficking.”  This is a longer-term effort by activists with agendas, and part of their agenda is to control YOU. 

As a reminder, there are two predominant threats to our right to practice.  First, the massage industry seeks to subsume Polarity Therapy by declaring it a subset of the overall discipline of massage therapy.  Since we touch people and engage in soft tissue manipulation as part of our treatements that makes us – according to their incorrect view – part of massage therapy.  Massage therapy is licensed and regulated at the state level by the majority of States in the United States (U.S.).

Second, Human Trafficking Victims’ Rights advocates see all touch therapies as fronts for prostitution and define prostitution as human trafficking.  Massage is a touch therapy and, whether or not it is lumped-in with massage, Polarity Therapy is a touch therapy – therefore (in these people’s minds) Polarity Therapy is a suspected front for human trafficking.  Yes, this sounds like the plot line of someone’s bad nightmare or a nut-job conspiracy theory – except that this is the way things are playing out in state legislatures across the country.  Licensing of touch professions is legislatively the most obvious approach to “solving” this problem.  Massachusetts proposed “An Act regulating bodyworks” law (S.168) is a good example of this approach.

As a member of the Federation of Therapeutic Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Practice Organizations (the Federation), APTA is working with other like-minded disciplines to prevent such misinformed legislation from being passed through efforts such as lobbying and education.  The Federation works to ensure that state laws intended to regulate therapeutic massage include proper exemptions for other non-massage disciplines like Polarity Therapy.  The Federation also supports “Safe Harbor” laws that protect the right to practice alternative healthcare practices – which exist in 11 States.

The question is – in this hostile environment, will these efforts be enough?  Florida, Texas, New York, and Rhode Island already require a massage license (or license in another profession allowed to touch clients, like medicine (including nursing), chiropractic, physical therapy, etc.) to perform Polarity Therapy.  North Carolina requires a license for all therapies other than energy-based therapies (so we should be safe there, for now), and Massachusetts is proposing to license all “bodyworkers” (see S.168).

Polarity Therapy and other alternative therapies have worked long and hard to avoid regulation and licensing.  Our efforts have met with some significant successes – 11 health freedom states!  We have also suffered several defeats, including the states listed above where Polarity Therapy is already considered massage and requires a massage license to practice, with more States considering similar legislation.

There is an effort underway to create a national framework for the categorization, evaluation, and certification of energy workers.  This work is being done, in part, at the request of elements of the U.S. Federal Government.  It seeks to create the foundation and framework for a licensing regime that can be implemented at the State-level, based on the certification provided by the organization. 

Having a national-level certification, and ultimately a state-level license, would be one way to more clearly distinguish ourselves from massage and ensure our right to practice.  It may even lead to the recognition necessary to allow coverage of Polarity Therapy under health insurance policies.  However, it would also mean yet another organization we would need to join, another certification to maintain, and a license to pay for and renew.  Is this the best solution?

The answers to the questions raised here remain unclear.  There is still much to be done and your APTA leadership continues to pursue the answers that we believe will best serve the needs of our Polarity Therapy community. 

Ultimately the best answer is to get involved!  Educate yourself and your colleagues and work towards accomplishing what you believe in.  You can make a difference – and we need your help. 

David Comings, PhD, BCPP
David Comings, PhD
Director of Legislation

2 Comments

  • Thank you David for this information and update. I am concerned also with all this regulation happening under the guise of protecting the public. I find that for me, even after over thirty years as a practitioner of various modalities and continued education, the legislators would still do not see proof of an outstanding “bodyworker” but rather as an outlet for criminal activity and a threat to the public. I live in Oregon and it is heavily regulated and they would probably follow NY down the road. Financially this would put me out of business with all the fees, dues, and continuing education, etc. I have always maintained my CE’s but all the other fees would be problematic. Please keep me posted about the state of things. Thank you again. Lynne Ann Kogut, BCPP

    • David Comings says:

      Lynne Ann – I will definitely keep you up to date with how this progresses. You raise a great point with respect to all of the fees, dues, and other costs – to include continuing education. In many states it is not worth doing Polarity as a “side hustle” since the fees and other costs eat-up everything you make from the work. That means it is either a primary vocation (which frequently does not pay enough) or something we only do on friends and family. As amazing a discipline as Polarity Therapy is, we need to find a way to be able to practice and keep enough of what we earn to be able to justify our time, training, and effort.

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