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  • Writer's pictureJenna Welsh

Massuse, Masseur, Massage Therapist - Why does it matter?

The art and craft of massage therapy has evolved throughout the centuries, as has it's reputation. Learn the difference between a "Masseuse" and a "Massage Therapist" and why your knowledge can help combat human trafficking.

In this field, it is important to distinguish between a Certified/Licensed Massage Therapist, a Massage Therapist/Massage Professional, and a Masseuse/Masseur. Essentially, these categories are based on the length of training or education the Therapist has received.


What is a Certified Massage Therapist - CMT?

Certified means being authorized or officially attested in meeting specified standards in a field of work. A Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) has received a graduation certificate of massage therapy and passed a board certification exam (MBLEX) that is administered by the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB). A CMT has completed a minimum of 500-hours combined training in Anatomy, Physiology, Kinesiology, Pathology, as well as hands-on clinical time applying the Bodywork and modalities learned or 250-hours of approved education and passage of a California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) approved exam. Continuing education is often submitted biannually to maintain eligibility status.

The California Business and Professions Code section 4606 makes it an unfair business practice for anyone not certified by CAMTC to use the titles: Licensed, Certified, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Practitioner, CMT, or CMP.

What is a Massage Therapist - MT?

Although you might be to go-to person for sore necks or strained backs within your friends and family, there are tons of important things you need to learn before you become a professional massage therapist. A Massage Therapist is a qualified individual who has completed satisfactory educational requirements to legally practice massage therapy and bodywork. They are often extensively trained in human anatomy and kinesiology to help them safely manipulate the muscles and soft tissues of their clients to facilitate healing, relaxation, improved health and other benefits. It is not illegal in the state of California to practice massage without a license but it would be illegal for you to call your self a Massage Therapist.

What is a Massage Practitioner - MP?

Any individual with 250-hours of approved education in the field of Massage Therapy. Practitioners with this level of qualification may also be called Massage Professionals.

What is a Masseuse/Masseur?

The names, Masseuse (for female), Masseur (for male), are linked to the history of illegitimate or illegal businesses within the history of massage. These titles are the result of unsavory practices often under the guise of entities like Massage Parlors that operate through sex work or escort services and thrive on human trafficking.

You should never experience or be solicited for impersonal sexual exchanges by a legitimate Massage Therapist. Unfortunately, this is a very real issue that I have personal experience with and must advocate that it needs to be actively combated. You can help fight human trafficking by ensuring your Therapist is Certified or Qualified to perform professional bodywork services.


Tip: Help Fight Human Trafficking

Ask for credentials! Most states require massage therapists to be licensed to practice, although regulation varies from state to state.

Any reputable provider should be displaying their active credentials publicly or should be made available immediately upon request.

Learn more and help stand against human trafficking! Check out some of the links or resources below and get involved by getting educated:

What is Human Trafficking? |

Massage Parlor Study |

Get Involved in SoCal |

A Story Behind Illicit Massage Parlor |

There are several warning signs for human trafficking, including poor physical and mental health, a lack of control over their lives and harsh working conditions. If you see any of these signs, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.


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