Effort to license massage therapists in Mich. has support here

Published 8:40 am Saturday, June 28, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Sheila Halsaver, president of Therapeutic Massage in Niles, is all for the effort currently under way to require licensure for massage therapist in Michigan.
Among those behind the effort also is Blue Heron Academy of Healing Arts and Sciences, who have a campus in Niles.
The 30-year-old academy's main office is in Grand Rapids.
The new Michigan Massage Licensure Act, if approved, will require anyone using the word massage or related terms to have acquired 500 hours of training in a massage school, according to Michigan's Medical Massage Association Massage Licensure Committee.
They must also have national board certification through a national association, and have a state license issued by the board.
However, the law does have a provision allowing licensure to individuals who can substantiate two years of prior massage practice for a minimum of 10 hours per week.
Halsaver specializes in myofacial release neuromuscular therapy, and also does Swedish massage.
Swedish Massage has its roots in Eastern Medicine and is recognized for its ability to provide deep tissue and muscle relaxation and assist with joint mobility.
She said gaining the licensure would mean a lot to all serious currently unlicensed clinical therapists.
Halsaver said gaining licensure would also make it easier for massage therapists to work with the medical community, who are extremely skeptical of unlicensed health workers.
Halsaver said she attended a conference at Harvard University last year with the medical community.
During that conference, Halsaver heard what she already knew.
Before opening her therapeutic massage business in Niles, Halsaver worked as an education assistant for Mother and Child at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Ind.
The contacts she established while working there has made it easier for her to work with the medical community than for other clinical therapists.
That is despite many massage therapists' efforts to continually update their skills by taking classes related to the field they work in.
Halsaver said she takes four different classes each year just to stay current on clinical therapy.
Although Halsaver is for the effort to gain licensure for massage therapists, there is one thing she would like to see changed in the proposal.
It might come as a surprise to many that under the current law, massage is considered adult entertainment.
According to a spokesperson at Blue Heron Academy, 4,000 Michigan massage therapists, 90 percent of whom are women, are asking for support for the licensure of massage therapy in the state.
Currently, 36 states have already passed licensure for massage therapy, and four more states have bills under consideration at this time.
The average annual income for a massage therapist, as reported by the U.S Bureau of Labor statistics, is $33,000 but higher in states with licensure.