Important changes to state massage requirements are underway in Indiana.
These changes include requirements that practicing massage therapists complete continuing education hours, carry a specific level of liability insurance, and submit to a criminal background check. Also, massage students will have to complete more educational hours than before.
All of these requirements are part of a larger development: In Indiana, certification that serves as title protection is transitioning to licensure that regulates the practice of massage, as well as titles including “massage therapist,” “bodyworker,” clinical massage therapist” and more.
The state board is currently working to finalize the massage law’s rules. In fact, a special meeting was set for April 16, for a final review and discussion of House Enrolled Act 1289, which is the act that stipulated the changes to Title 25, Article 21.8 of Indiana state code.
MASSAGE Magazine spoke a customer service representative with the Indiana State Board of Massage who said the changes will go into effect 183 days after the effective date the changes are adopted, and publicized, by the state massage board.
In the meantime, therapists in the Hoosier State should be prepared for the roll-out of these new requirements that will affect their ability to legally practice massage.
Here is a breakdown of the three most important changes underway in Indiana.
1. Increased Educational Hours
Once licensure is in place, Indiana massage therapists will need to show proof of successful completion of 24 hours of continuing education (CE) within the most recent four-year period. Currently, CE is not required.
Additionally, massage students will be required to complete 625 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction, up from the current 500 hours, to apply for a state license.
Once massage school education is completed, a graduate must take one of the following examinations accepted by the Indiana State Board of Massage Therapy:
• The National Board Certification Agency National Certification Examination
• The Board Certification Exam in Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
After applying for licensure, new massage therapists will have to register for a criminal background check that includes being fingerprinted. With certification, applicants have to simply “provide a history of any criminal convictions the individual has, including any convictions related to the practice of the profession,” according to Indiana legal code.
For information about fees related to licensure and how to schedule a criminal background check, massage therapists should connect with the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency.
2. Required Liability Insurance
Many massage therapists are required — by their state governing board, employer or landlord — to possess liability insurance in order to practice. This insurance is a form of risk management that ensures you are relieved from the financial responsibility of a potential loss.
Further, product liability coverage applies to instances where a client may sue a massage therapist due to damage or injury resulting from use of a product, such as a massage lubricant, that causes an allergic reaction, or a faulty table that crashes to the ground in the middle of a massage.
Indiana massage therapists are already required to hold professional liability insurance and must provide proof of insurance when applying for certification. The new rule states that therapists applying for licensure must have minimum coverage of $2 million dollars per claim and $6 million dollars in aggregate.
Professional liability coverage, also known as malpractice insurance, applies to instances where a client may sue a massage therapist due to damages or injury incurred during the course of a session.
Liability insurance is often an annual or bi-annual purchase, Indiana massage therapists may want to consider reviewing their current policy as it comes up for renewal to confirm that their limits will meet the new requirements. Some insurance companies may be adjusting or increasing their policies to meet the new limits in the coming year. (Disclosure: MASSAGE Magazine‘s sister company, Massage Magazine Insurance Plus, is one organization that has adjusted its coverage to meet the new requirements in Indiana.)
3. The Transition from Certification to Licensure
Currently, certification in Indiana provides for title protection, meaning that anyone practicing massage in the state who is not certified cannot use such titles as “certified massage therapist” or “massage therapist,” or the abbreviations “CMT” or “MT,” when referring to what they practice.
Since the current law doesn’t protect the practice of massage, people without education and certification can currently set up shop touching clients.
The new rule will prevent people who don’t possess massage education from getting massage jobs, “and that’s what’s happening now,” said Nicole Muench, who owns and directs Carmel School of Massage & Healing Arts in Carmel, Indiana.
“I think it will be a good change that will help us, [as] the medical profession will look at our profession [as having] more integrity with this new regulation, because we’ll be licensed as medical professionals are licensed, such as nurses and physical therapists and dental hygienists,” Muench added. “I think that big picture is we will see our industry leaning more toward the clinical, medical setting.”
A component of changes to massage therapy’s reputation could lay in the new licensure rule that therapists must include their license number in any advertisement.
What’s Next for Indiana MTs
Until the changes go into effect, the Indiana Board of Massage Therapy will keep on renewing and issuing massage certifications. The state’s massage therapists should check the board’s website regularly for updates on the transition from certification to licensure, and for the implementation of the additional changes described here.
About the Author:
Karen Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief.