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APTA’s Position on Licensing of Polarity Therapists

By April 27, 2020Uncategorized

By: David Comings, Director of Legislation

This month I would like to share with everyone the APTA Board’s position on and approach to Licensing.  APTA’s Director of Legislation routinely attends the annual Federation meeting.  This year the Federation requested that each member organization provide its position on licensing.  The statement below is APTA’s position on licensing, as approved by APTA’s Board of Directors:

APTA does not oppose State-level licensing or regulation of Polarity Practitioners that serves to codify and strengthen Polarity Practitioners’ right to practice in that State.  However, APTA is strongly opposed to regulation or licensing at the local, city, or county level.  APTA is also strongly opposed to Polarity Therapy being governed, overseen, managed by, or in any way associated with the practice of Massage Therapy. 

The discipline of Polarity Therapy involves the use of touch as an incidental part of our practice.  Our principal focus is on working with the underlying flow of energy through the body, not soft tissue manipulation.  As such, Polarity Therapy is an energy-based practice – distinct in our philosophy, methods and process from Massage Therapy.  This difference in philosophy, methods and practice differentiates Polarity Therapy from Massage Therapy to such an extent that Massage Therapy Boards and organizations do not have the appropriate expertise to govern, oversee, or manage the practice of Polarity Therapy.

Many of the States working on legislation to license “bodywork” – a broad and amorphous term intended to capture anything involving touch that is not massage – are seeking to do so with a single licensing board that is responsible for massage and bodywork. 

While it is obvious to some of us that this is not a proper way to structure a licensing system, that is because we understand the different disciplines involved, the nature of the work, and a variety of other factors of which most legislators are completely unaware.  Generally that is alright, because when they are crafting legislation, legislators rely on “experts” in the field.  However, in this case the primary “experts” are in the massage industry. 

While portions of the massage industry are hostile to Polarity Therapy, our partner in the Federation, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), does work hard and is very good about including the exemption language developed by the Federation in any legislation they propose, and continuing to work with Federation members in support of our interests during the legislative process. 

The rest of the massage industry seeks to subsume Polarity Therapy and other modalities into massage.  There are a multitude of problems with that approach, to include their lack of differentiation between “bodywork” and energy therapies.  Another major factor is that many physicians and other medical personnel are learning and practicing energy therapy modalities – ours was created by a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine!  Medical personnel, and particularly medical doctors (MDs) view massage as an inferior system to medicine – so why would they submit to their practices being overseen by a massage board?

APTA’s approach is to pursue exemptions to massage laws whenever possible.  This work is largely done through the Federation.  However, when exemptions are not possible, APTA is working with the Alliance and its National Certification Center of Energy Professionals (NCCOEP) to pursue licensing as energy therapists, not “bodyworkers.”  Our bottom-line goal is to ensure the right to practice for all of our Practitioners, regardless of the state in which they live.


  • This was very helpful thank you David – obviously a lot of thought and work has gone into this, and continues.

    Much appreciation,

    Heather Wolfe

  • How does the Tamasic principle fit into the “not soft tissue manipulation?”

    • David Comings says:

      Tamas is the negative pole of the energy system. Its action is centripetal (inwards towards the center), and is characterized as a feminine principle (Yin in the Chinese system). It tends towards attraction, nesting, inertia and contraction. Tamas balances the positive, masculine (Yang in the Chinese system), outward and centrifugal force of Rajas. Neither of these principles, nor that of Satva, the last of the three gunas directly relates to soft tissue – these are energetic principles.

      Polarity Therapy commonly and routinely involves contact and interaction with the physical body. However, Polarity Therapy can also be successfully conducted off the body (with minimal or no contact, hands very close to the body) and remotely (at a distance, with no contact whatsoever). If any of the three gunas required soft tissue manipulation to function, working off the body or remotely would not be effective. This is one of the key differentiators between Polarity and massage. Massage requires direct contact with the body and the employment of soft tissue manipulation to function. Polarity works with the body’s “Wireless Anatomy” which does not require the manipulation of soft tissue to be effective.

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