As time progressed on into the 1900’s the term massage became the dominant term for general manual therapy while masseuse/masseur referred to hands-on specialists who were educated in the traditions of Ling and Mezger. Masseuses and masseurs worked alongside doctors as their assistants as well as their own private practice as independent practitioners. By this time general full body massage was given on padded tables with the client under a drape.
Ohio was the very first state to regulate massage as a “limited branch of medicine”. Agnes Bridget Forbes became the first licensed masseuse in our country in 1916.
There were some pretty astounding and scientifically proven modalities and treatments that would set the stage for contemporary massage industry standards.
In 1971 Ida Rolf opens the Rolf Institute in Boulder, CO the very first massage school in America!
By 1985 David Palmer introduces chair massage. Chair massage allows massage therapists to give massage without asking the client to disrobe. There are chair massages practically everywhere! Here at the SeaTac airport there is a “Massage Bar” where local massage therapists work on travelers. Chair massage is also used for marketing clinics as well as a means of community service especially during athletic events/marathons.
In the 1960s massage therapy and licensed massage therapist (LMT) became the new terms used to supersede masseuse and masseur because of the uprising of those particular terms being used to guise prostitution. This was very damaging for the massage professions who worked so hard to keep the legitimacy and image of medically trained healers. To this day most LMT’s cringe whenever someone refers to them as a masseuse. Because of this dark past, we now have stricter regulations for massage and are still battling to defend our place in the medical industry and maintain our image as health care providers.
The creation of certain organizations helped pave the way to solidify LMT’s as health care providers. In 1958 AAMM changed it’s name to American Massage Therapy Association. Therapy was defined generally as promoting good health and encompassed the whole range of applications envisioned by Ling over a century earlier. Hands on approaches from Asia were added to the melting pot of massage.
Finally by 1990 massage was viewed as an alternative and natural means of medicine. At this time in history only 17 states enforced state licensing laws, now it's 45. Today in the state of Washington in order to practice massage you must receive professional training/education at a credentialed school approved by the board of Washington State’s department of health, receive 4 hours of training on HIV/AIDS, obtain a valid CPR and First Aid card, and have your own malpractice and liability insurance.
In 2005 The Federation of State Massage Licensing Boards was established. This means that massage therapists can either take a state boards exam in their state to become licensed OR they can take this national exam and become a nationally licensed massage therapist.