PA 12-64—sHB 5455

Planning and Development Committee

Judiciary Committee

Public Health Committee


SUMMARY: This act extends regulation of the massage therapy field to cover employers, not just individual practioners; expands the practices and services covered by advertising restrictions; and authorizes the Department of Public Health (DPH) commissioner to investigate complaints.

The act makes employers who knowingly and willfully employ unlicensed people (1) to practice massage therapy or (2) who use a massage therapy-related title guilty of a class C misdemeanor (see Table on Penalties), which is the penalty for individual practioners who violate massage therapy provisions under existing law.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012


The law prohibits using the term or title “massage” when advertising massage therapy services, unless a licensed massage therapist performs the services. “Advertising” includes:

1. placing a listing or advertisement in a directory under a heading or classification that includes the words “massage,” “massage therapist,” “massage therapy,” or “massage therapy establishment;

2. giving a card, sign, or device to anyone;

3. causing or allowing a sign or marking on a vehicle, building, or other structure; or

4. advertising in a newspaper or magazine.

The act adds “shiatsu,” “acupressure,” “Thai massage,” “Thai yoga massage,” and “Thai yoga” to the list of terms or titles that can appear in advertising for services only if performed by a licensed massage therapist.

It is unclear what penalty applies to a violation of the advertising provisions, although the law makes the use of certain titles by an unlicensed person a class C misdemeanor and authorizes the DPH commissioner to enforce the advertising provisions.


Under the act, when the DPH commissioner believes, based on credible information or a complaint, that someone has violated massage therapy license or practice requirements or advertising rules, she may, within 30 days after receiving the complaint, begin a formal investigation of the alleged violation. Under existing law, the commissioner must enforce laws concerning massage therapy within available appropriations.

Under the act, in the course of the investigation, the commissioner may inquire whether a person under investigation legally obtained a DPH license by comparing the photograph on the person's government-issued photo-identification with a photograph from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or from a company the board contracted with to administer massage exams. Photographs that do not match constitute prima facie evidence (i. e. , a preliminary showing that can be overcome by other evidence) that the person violated the law by practicing massage therapy without a license.


Massage Therapy Defined

By law, “massage therapy” means the systematic and scientific manipulation and treatment of the body's soft tissues using pressure, friction, stroking, percussion, kneading, vibration by manual or mechanical means, range of motion, and nonspecific stretching. It includes the use of oils, ice, and similar amenities, but does not include diagnosis or other services and procedures for which the law requires a license to practice, including medicine, chiropractic, naturopathy, physical therapy, or podiatry (CGS 20-206a).

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