Scope of Practice

Definition of “Scope of Practice”

A licensed professional’s scope of practice outlines which services they are eligible to perform in accordance to their licensure. A professional can expand their scope of practice by participating in continued education courses relevant to their practice. If a professional performs services outside of their scope of practice, they may lose their license, or get into trouble with the law – especially if someone gets hurt.


Massage Therapist’s Scope of Practice

A massage therapists base training cover quite a bit of modalities. Generally, a massage therapist is qualified to perform the following massage forms

  • Chair
  • Swedish
  • Deep tissue
  • Hot stone
  • Palpation
  • Range of motion exercises

Training also covers

  • Geriatric massage
  • Prenatal and infant massage
  • Sports massage
  • Basic trigger point therapy
  • Basic craniosacral therapy
  • Reflexology
  • Myofascial release
  • Passive stretching

Massage therapists may not claim to “specialize” in these areas unless they receive further education beyond basic massage training. Some schools offer lessons in Reiki I, or polarity therapy as well, although it is up to the discretion of the school.


Outside Our Scope of Practice

Massage therapists are sometimes asked to perform treatments that we are not qualified to do. Unless she has received the proper training, a massage therapist is stepping outside of her scope of practice if she gives certain treatments, including:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Prescriptions
  • Diagnoses
  • Joint mobilizations
  • Developing exercise plans
  • Use of E-stim devices

Of course, all of this depends on the personal training level of the therapist. Each massage school requires training in different modalities. After school, a massage therapist may go on to learn and specialize in different modalities, some not listed here. That being said, don’t get upset with your massage therapist if she tells you she can’t perform a service that you’ve asked for. She is simply protecting her status as a licensed professional!


About Tonya Sapiel, LMT

My goal with The Wellness Seeker blog is to educate the general public on the benefits of massage therapy, why it is an important addition to their health care routine, and what they can do to help themselves in between their massage therapy sessions. I welcome feedback and questions. I also accept requests for post topics. For more information about me or my practice, please visit

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