I-Team: Massage therapy regulations in Alabama

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Massage therapy has gone mainstream. For many, giving or receiving a gift for a massage is hot gift this holiday season. But with recent allegations of sexual misconduct at some establishments in other parts of the country, the ABC3340 News I-Team looked into licensing and regulations in Alabama.

You can check records at the State Board of Massage Therapy's website to see if a therapist is licensed or faced disciplinary action. In Alabama there are 2,007 licensed massage therapists and 672 licensed establishments. The agency receives 10 to 15 complaints a year. Licenses are renewed every two years. Over the past twelve months staff has done 207 inspections.

If a complaint is founded, a license can be revoked or voluntarily surrendered. This year, two licenses have been surrendered and another therapist was fined for not having a license. In 2016, 8 licenses were surrendered, two therapists placed on probation and three fined.

Executive Director Keith Warren says inspectors also check for cleanliness, safety and the required liability insurance. He says Alabama has a safe and professional industry.

During a session, the client's body must be draped with only the area being massaged uncovered. Personal areas are never exposed. "Draping is extremely important. You should only undress to your level of comfort. There are boundaries a therapist is taught not to exceed," explains Warren. A client can stop a massage at any time if they feel uncomfortable.

When choosing a therapist, Warren says ask around for recommendations. Some therapists specialize in certain areas such as treating injuries or chronic pain.

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