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About Massage Therapists in Ontario
Most Registered Massage Therapists in Ontario are self-employed health professionals. They work in a variety of settings, most often in Massage Therapy clinics and multidisciplinary health clinics. Other workplaces include:
- Private practice
- Rehabilitation centres
- Health and fitness clubs
- Nursing homes
- Community health clinics
- Health spas
Massage Therapists assess and treat physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints of the body, mostly by hands-on manipulation.
Assessment and treatment can include orthopaedic and neurological testing, soft tissue manipulation (Swedish massage is the most commonly used technique), hydrotherapy, remedial exercise programs and client education programs.
Education and Training
Training to become a Registered Massage Therapist in Ontario consists of a two to three-year diploma program from one of a number of recognized Massage Therapy schools in the province. Applicants who trained in Massage Therapy internationally or in a Canadian province where Massage Therapy is not regulated must undergo the Massage Therapy Education and Credential Assessment (MTECA) to ensure qualifications are equivalent to those provided by Ontario’s education programs in Massage Therapy.
After education is completed, all candidates must take the College’s Certification Examinations and register to practise Massage Therapy in Ontario. Only registrants of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario are permitted to use the protected titles “Registered Massage Therapist” or “Massage Therapist” and use the letters “RMT” or “MT” with their names. Note – Both titles are equivalent and mean that the holder of the title is registered with the College.
In addition to maintaining their registration with the College through an annual renewal process, Ontario’s Registered Massage Therapists:
- Adhere to a Code of Ethics;
- Meet or exceed defined Massage Therapy Competency Standards;
- Take part in the Quality Assurance Programme which encourages the evaluation and improvement of Massage Therapists’ competencies through self assessment, peer assessment and continuing education;
- Have received education regarding the prevention of all forms of abuse of their clients, particularly sexual abuse;
- Maintain privacy and confidentiality of their client’s personal health information and records;
- Are involved in the College’s activities as a self-regulating health profession, providing information and feedback on College initiatives, and participating in College activities as Council and committee members, peer assessors, examiners and subject matter experts.
Scope of Practice
The Massage Therapy Act, 1991, the provincial legislation for Massage Therapy in Ontario, defines the practice of Massage Therapy as “the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain.” This is referred to as the “Scope of Practice.”
Acupuncture falls within the Scope of Practice of Massage Therapy because it constitutes a “manipulation” within the meaning of the Massage Therapy Act, 1991 and its Scope of Practice statement. As a modality, acupuncture can reasonably be expected to have an effect on the soft tissues and joints of the body and constitutes the “treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissues and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain.”
Massage Therapists limit their use of this modality to the treatment of generally accepted physical disorders within the Scope of Practice of Massage Therapy. The practice of acupuncture as a Massage Therapy modality requires specialized training and Massage Therapists who provide it must confirm that they have obtained minimum educational requirements for acupuncture set by the College.
Standards of Practice
The College has developed Massage Therapy Competency Standards and Standards of Practice for Massage Therapists. These documents describe the knowledge and skills of a Registered Massage Therapist, and outline the various tasks and techniques the therapist is required to perform within the Scope of Practice. The Standards of Practice describe how well a Massage Therapist is expected to perform a task and are a helpful reference tool for the public because they provide objective standards by which to assess the quality of treatment received. Massage Therapists are accountable for meeting these standards.