American Bowen Academy Position Statement on Massage Licensure for Bowenwork Practitioners
Bowenwork utilizes gentle touch to influence the energy systems of the body. However, it is neither massage nor energy work. It is a distinct practice that requires a unique skill set and specialized training.
Many states and municipalities in the U.S. recognize that there are different and specific bodywork professions – professions that have attained maturity through established history and the creation of professional trainings and practitioner associations.
Those who train in, understand and employ these bodywork methods most clearly recognize that they are distinct from massage in theory, intent and practice, and that they are not modalities (subsets) of massage therapy.
The requirement that Professional Bowenwork Practitioners obtain massage licensing places an unfair burden on them to enroll in, pay for and complete unnecessary training (e.g., in Swedish or other massage techniques). If they cannot afford massage training, or physically cannot complete a massage program, then they are prevented from practicing a profession in which they have already received specialized training. Such a requirement also creates a barrier for the public who are deprived of access to beneficial services provided by these qualified professionals.
The Academy’s position is that well-trained and certified Bowenwork professionals should not be required to obtain massage licenses in order to practice Bowenwork legally. However, since many states and municipalities currently interpret the definition of massage to include virtually everyone whose practice includes touch, the Academy advises prospective students — before embarking on Bowenwork training — to verify whether or not their state requires a license.
In jurisdictions that do require licensing, the Academy encourages students and practitioners to form or join state coalitions with other non-massage practitioners in order to become knowledgeable about their state and local laws and to educate the public, other health-care providers and legislators about their respective practices. Joining with other non-massage practitioners will build support for a movement towards removing unnecessary roadblocks to having careers as Professional Bowenwork Practitioners.
American Bowen Academy Code of Ethics requires students, practitioners and instructors to comply with all local laws and regulations.
Massage licensing laws vary in each state. An aggregated summary of information can be found at American Massage Therapy Association. However, laws can change from time-to-time and the most complete source of information will be found by searching for the website of your state’s massage licensing authority. Please Contact us if you have questions.