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Auditors again call for axing massage therapy licensing

Massage therapy may well pose the risk of dangerous or unscrupulous activity. But West Virginia auditors don’t think that risk justifies occupational licensing of massage therapists.

For the third time in fourteen years, a West Virginia legislative audit has recommended eliminating the state Board of Message Therapy, regarding it as not necessary.

Since 2011, four or fewer complaints about massage therapists have been made each year, and most of them involved practicing without a license, the December 2014 audit says.

However, the risk of sexual misconduct by a licensed massage therapist remains real. In 2010, for example, a massage therapist was cited for sexual misconduct with a client and criminal prosecution is pending.

The board’s executive director, Linda Lyter, believes that having a message therapy board in place is not only beneficial, but necessary.

“Common law and civil law remedies are not enough to protect the public from unprofessional conduct,” Lyter stated.

As an example, she noted that in the past year the board managed to shut down a massage therapy establishment where sexual abuse complaints were rampant.

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