Legal Status of Thai Bodywork

 Practicing Thai Bodywork in Illinois

tbw-page-logoThai Massage generally falls under the applicable massage laws (if any) in your state. In Illinois, Asian bodywork is specifically excluded from the massage law. Asian practitioners are required to be members of a professional organization with minimum competency standards. ABMP meets the Illinois requirements as a professional organization for Asian bodywork as stated by this letter. Practitioner level membership in ABMP allows an Asian bodyworker to practice legally in the state of Illinois. ABMP acknowledges Thai Bodywork’s certification program as meeting their Practitioner level standard. They will accept any Thai bodywork practitioner for Practitioner membership if they have completed Thai Bodywork’s TBP certification program (220 hours). We recommend that students join ABMP at a student and practitioner level as they achieve the relevant hour levels. There are two applicable levels:
  • Once a student has taken 100 hours of coursework, they may join ABMP as a student member and get student insurance. Student insurance is required to complete Thai Bodywork’s onsite apprentice hours at our clinic.
  • After the student completes Thai Bodywork’s Certified Thai Bodywork Practitioner program, they may apply for Practitioner membership and insurance through ABMP. At this point, the practitioner may practice legally in Illinois.
Certain licensed professions, such as nursing, massage, medical doctors and others, may practice Thai legally in Illinois under their professional license. However, Thai Bodywork’s Certified Thai Bodywork Practitioner program establishes a minimum level professional standard that we feel is extremely important for professional competency apart from legal status.

Practicing Thai bodywork in States Other Than Illinois

If you wish to practice in a state other than Illinois, you will need to determine the status of the Thai massage modality with respect to your state’s massage laws. Each state regulates massage and bodywork independently, and if the state does not regulate massage and bodywork, your local municipality or county may. Some states’ laws are language-based. Some states define massage in practical terms rather than or in addition to language. In some cases, Thai massage falls under the state’s massage law, and all Thai practitioners are required to be licensed as massage therapists to practice legally. Some states may exclude yoga and Thai yoga practitioners so that they are not covered by the massage law. Yoga adjustments, Thai yoga and assisted yoga are often gray areas whose relationship to state massage laws is not clear. Thai Bodywork cannot assist with legal interpretations of specific state massage laws. In many cases the definitions have never been adequately tested in practice. To learn about the massage laws relevant to a given state, we recommend that you Google “Illinois Massage Law”, substituting your own state, and read the text of the article.