Consumer Information

Massage Therapists and Their Services


Who are massage therapists?

Massage therapists are licensed health professionals who apply a variety of scientifically developed massage techniques to the soft tissue of the body to improve muscle tone and circulation.

Massage therapists work to enhance well-being, reduce the physical and mental effects of stress and tension, prevent disease, and restore health.


What techniques do massage therapists use?

Massage therapists use many different massage techniques and methods. These include the following, among others:

  • Swedish medical massage
  • Shiatsu
  • Connective Tissue Massage
  • Amma
  • Neuromuscular Massage
  • Tuina
  • Reflexology
  • Acupressure
  • Polarity Therapy

Do you need a prescription to see a massage therapist?

No. While your physician may refer you to a massage therapist, you can seek the services of a massage therapist directly.

Massage therapists may provide services that lead to improved health and muscle function, but they do not diagnose medical diseases or disorders. They evaluate patients/clients in terms of health and disease in order to know what massage technique should be used and when to make referrals to other health care practitioners.


What credentials do New York licensed massage therapists have?

New York licensed massage therapists have completed a massage training program, including the following:

  • courses in anatomy, physiology, neurology, myology (study of muscles and their function), pathology, hygiene, first aid, CPR, and infection control procedures
  • course work, training and practice in the theory and techniques of both oriental and western massage

In addition, New York massage therapists have passed a State licensing examination.


Where do massage therapists work?

You will find massage therapists in private practice, group practice, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, sporting events like the Olympics, health spas, resorts, and in corporate offices.


How can I identify a massage therapist - is everyone who practices massage therapy called a massage therapist?

Massage therapists may identify their practice by the name of the technique, such as Shiatsu or Swedish Medical Massage. They may use general titles as well, such as massage therapy or bodywork (a term used by those who use oriental massage techniques).

Practitioners using these titles should all be licensed massage therapists.


Do massage therapists maintain patient records?

Yes. Massage therapists must keep a record of client evaluations and treatments for six years or until the client turns 22, whichever is longer.

You have a right to your records and to have a copy of your records. The massage therapist who maintains your records can tell you how to obtain them.

Massage therapists must get your consent, or the consent of an authorized person, before releasing your records to anyone, except in circumstances provided for by the law.


What questions should individuals with disabilities ask about accessing services?

Ask such questions as whether the service location is physically accessible (curb cuts, ramps, restrooms, etc.) as well as whether there is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) and parking for people with disabilities.


Verifying a New York License

New York massage therapists must display a current New York registration certificate; this certificate lists the professional's name, address, and dates of the registration period. Massage therapists must reregister every three years to practice in New York. Some professionals also display their original New York license, diploma, licenses from other states, and membership certificates. You may verify an individual's license and registration on this site.

Last Updated: June 8, 2009