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Regulations and More Regulations

by Jan Rosenstreich

It seems that every few months another useless law is proposed in New Jersey. I guess our elected officials feel they need to keep making new laws to be effective legislators - whether we need them or not. One such proposed law is called the "Massage, Bodywork and Somatic Therapist Licensing Act", known as Senate, No. 1866. It has broad reach and will include Massage Therapists, Reflexologists, people who work with subtle energy such as Reiki practitioners, Polarity Therapists, Therapeutic Touch, and any other method that deals with touch.

Here is an except from this bill: "The legislature finds and declares that: the public interest requires the regulation of the practice of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and the establishment of clear licensure standards for massage, bodywork and somatic therapists; the health and welfare of the citizens of this State will be protected by identifying to the public those individuals who are best qualified to practice massage, bodywork and somatic therapies; and the regulation of massage, bodywork and somatic therapists will benefit the public by encouraging it to take additional advantage of massage, bodywork and somatic therapies as a viable complement to traditional medicine."

This bill is not needed to protect the citizens of the state. National organizations already exist that certify these therapies and know a lot more about their specialty than any state agency. In addition, these professions derive a high percentage of clients from referrals and would be out of business quickly if they were not qualified. This is another way for the State to set up an additional bureaucracy and collect more money in the form of license fees. It is also a way for one professional organization (massage therapy) to control several unrelated therapies.

This is another example of a turf war that has a rich history in this state. Several years ago, the Psychological Board wanted to include Hypnotherapy, Biofeedback, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, pastoral counseling, motivational training, etc., under "their umbrella". The scope was so wide that it would have given them complete control of anything remotely related to the mind. Fortunately, public pressure forced changes that excluded hypnotherapy and other disciplines. Another recent example included Dieticians wanting to include nutritionists under their licensing law even though the training and scope of the two professions are quite different. This bill made it through both State houses and fortunately, the Governor vetoed it. This would have created another unneeded government board that would have been discriminatory towards nutritionists.

As an example, Reflexology will be included within this proposed law since it falls within the broad definition of bodywork. Being a professional foot Reflexologist and teacher for over 5 years, I know that there are major differences between the professions. In fact, I usually have massage students in the classes I teach. They tell me that they usually receive just a few hours of "Reflexology" as part of their hundreds of hours of massage training. They also tell me how different it is from what they expected and many are surprised at the skill level needed to do an effective session. Reflexology involves applying small meticulous compression techniques and movements to the feet (and hands) with precision and a great attention to detail. Massage generally involves longer sweeping movements applied to many parts of the body. The training and application are totally different and should not be lumped together for the sake of licensing.

If this bill becomes law, it may be more difficult to find a practitioner of your choice since many of the disciplines will not fit neatly under this restrictive law. High licensing fees and unfair regulations will probably drive many capable practitioners out of the profession.

You can make your voice heard by telling your State legislators that you do NOT want any more unnecessary regulations and larger government. S.1866 is sponsored by Sen. Jack Sinagra, R-18, (908) 819-7551 and Sen. John Lynch, D-17, (908) 249-4550. You can get a copy of S.1866 by calling (800) 792-8630 or on their World Wide Web site - Contact the bill sponsors, your State Senator and Gov. Whitman (609) 292-6000. Call their offices and tell them what you think, remember elections are coming.





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Page maintained by Jan Rosenstreich, Copyright(c) 1997. Created: 5/5/97 Updated: 11/4/98