Lack of regulations requires inquiry

Consumers should check qualifications, backgrounds

Several Lawrence massage therapists have some advice on how to better relax during the next visit ask about a therapist’s qualifications first.

Lawrence, like most other cities in the state, doesn’t require massage therapists to be licensed by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Body Work.

Marcia Butell, a nationally board certified massage therapist, works with a client at Rejuvene Day Spa, 1311 Wakarusa Plaza.

Most consumers probably don’t know that fact, but Marcia Butell, a nationally board-certified massage therapist at Rejuvene Day Spa, said she thinks consumers ought to take the time to ask about their therapist’s qualifications because the business is “so much more than putting oil on someone.”

Nationally board-certified massage therapists graduate with 500 hours from an accredited institution. To keep that certification must take at least 50 hours of continuing education every five years.

“What you’re paying for when you come to me is my education,” Butell said.

The latest Lawrence phone book lists 27 different massage therapists in Lawrence, but only 18 of those have a nationally board certified massage therapist, according to the board’s Web site.

With massages costing between $45 to $65 per session, people should know what they’re paying for.

“It’s your money, but I would want the most experienced massage therapist possible, and someone who knows what they are doing because they work on every system of the body,” said Judy Hermann, who gets a massage at least twice a week from a nationally board certified professional.

Cities can enact their own laws to regulate massage businesses. In Lawrence, city officials do not require therapists to receive a city license to operate their business. They do require therapists to be certified, but the requirement doesn’t set any standards for the number of hours therapists must be trained or in what areas they must receive training.

Neither does Lawrence have a program to check the business certification, but rather only responds to complaints, which Dave Corliss, assistant city manager, said are rare.

Butell, though, said that’s not good enough.

“Since the city doesn’t put any requirements on what that training includes, it may be someone going to a one weekend class and getting a certificate,” Butell said. “That doesn’t mean you know anything about the body, though.

“Certification is important because this is one of the few fields where you ask your customers to take off their clothes and you touch their body.”

Absent city regulations, massage therapists recommend that you ask a lot of questions before you start attending a particular massage shop. Not all professionals believe massage therapists have to be nationally board certified to be considered.

“I don’t think it’s critical to be nationally board certified because there’s people who aren’t and who do a good job, but the certification gives people a place to start,” said Joy DeMaranville, a nationally board certified massage therapist from Southwind Health Collective.