Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

State starts regulating massage


A law that went into effect July 1 requires massage therapists to acquire a state license. License requirements include 500 hours of education and national certification or proof of a current practice. Licensees also must hold current CPR certification and submit fingerprints to the state.

Local therapists say they understand the reasoning behind the new regulation, but say it won’t change much here.

“I like the concept a lot, but I don’t think Haines had a problem,” said Melina Shields, a therapist since 1998. “You won’t survive if you’re not professional and providing a therapeutic product.”

Shields said the intent of the law is to weed out prostitutes who operate under the guise of massage therapists as well as “hippy-dippy” practitioners who charge for massages without proper training.

Shields said she paid $610 for the license, including a $200 application fee, a $350 license feet and $60 for fingerprint processing. Active therapists or ones who have worked in the past five years may be exempted from the education requirement by applying under “grandfather” provisions.

The cost of licensing is steep, Shields said. “We make a good hourly wage but we can’t work 40 hours a week. It’s not physically possible to.”

Cynthia Allen, a therapist since 1994, said many therapists who work under chiropractor Chris Thorgesen will use employment there to meet the experience requirement. Allen said she held a national certification for years, but she’ll give that up now that she must be state certified.

“It’s a way for me to say there’s some governing body that says I know how to do massage, but now that the state is doing it, that will be my validating piece of paper,” Allen said. She said licensing is a good thing. “They’re not draconian fees and people doing body work should have at least 500 hours or more in training.”

Therapists who graduate from a legitimate massage school typically get at least 500 hours of training, Allen said.

Shields said there’s more to a successful massage business than people think, including building up a customer base. “It costs a lot to have an office and a table and to get your sheets laundered. It’s not something you can throw up in a night and have much business. It takes a long time to have a good practice.”


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