Practice Alerts

Disclaimer: Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice. Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and what may constitute professional misconduct.

Alert 7: Delegation of Tasks to a Person Licensed in Another Profession

There are some instances where a physical therapist (PT) can assign an individual to perform treatment who is licensed in another discipline, such as massage therapy. In such instances, the "other" licensed individual must assure that the professional services provided are within the scope of practice of physical therapy, with the further limitation that such services must also be within the scope of practice of the profession in which the individual is licensed.

Education Law and the Rules of the Board of Regents define professional misconduct to include:

  • Permitting or aiding an unlicensed person to perform activities requiring a license
  • Practicing or offering to practice beyond the scope of the profession

A licensed individual who is found guilty of misconduct may face sanctions from the Board of Regents, up to and including, suspension or revocation of his or her license.

Massage therapy is clearly within the scope of practice of physical therapy. A licensed PT with appropriate education and training can utilize massage therapy in order to treat a disability, injury, disease or other condition of health. Therapeutic massage may be categorized as treatment, rather than prevention or evaluation. Therefore, a referral may be required prior to treatment, unless the PT is qualified to provide direct access treatment.

Although a licensed PT can perform massage therapy, the licensee must use the title he or she is authorized to use, that is, "physical therapist." Section 7802 of the Education Law restricts the use of the titles "masseur", "masseuse" or "massage therapist" to persons licensed under the massage practice act. Therefore, a licensed PT could advertise "massage therapy" as one of the modalities used in the licensee's physical therapy practice, but the licensee cannot use a protected title, unless the licensed PT is also licensed under Article 155 as a massage therapist.

Citations of Pertinent Law, Rules or Regulations:
Education Law, Section 6503 – definition of practice of any profession
Education Law, Section 6509 – definition of professional misconduct
Education Law, Section 6731 – definition of practice of physical therapy
Education Law, Section 6738 – definition of practice of physical therapist assistant
Education Law, Section 7802 – use of title for massage therapist
Regents Rules, Part 29 – definition of professional misconduct
Last Updated: April 15, 2021