NHA - Natural Healing Alliance
Representing New Jersey Energy and Light-Touch Practitioners
One instrument makes a sound, many instruments make a symphony!

UPDATE: NJ Board of Massage and Bodywork Meeting, Wednesday, September 25

Thank you for your feedback on the survey. It helped guide the statement we prepared for the September 25, 2013 NJ Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy meeting. For your interest, here is a current summary of the results as of 2:00pm September 26, 2013.spa

Option 1: Exemption from the New Jersey Massage & Bodywork Licensing Act (This means no licensure for light-touch practitioners; therefore no state-promulgated standards for education and training or requirements on how to teach and practice their art.) 89%

Option 2: Separate regulations for energy and light-touch healing arts (Separate regulations mean practitioners will be subject to licensing and will need to receive a particular type of education and training, abide by state-promulgated standards of care, and be subject to a biennial renewal fee. Practitioners will only be allowed to train and/or teach their art through a state-approved school.) 7.6%

Option 3: Do nothing (Wait and see what the Board decides.) 0.4%

Option 3: Other

As you can see, the overwhelming majority of people voted for full exemption. There were many who wrote comments that were useful and informative for us. Click here to read the comments.

In preparation for this meeting, and based on your feedback, we gathered together eight practitioners representing several of the light-touch healing arts (Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Healing Touch, Therapeutic Touch, IGM, IET, Qi Gong) to discuss the best way to present our case to the Board. Susan was nominated to speak at the meeting on behalf of the group and the Natural Healing Alliance. The following statement was presented in front of the Board:

Statement to the NJ Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy
September 24, 2013 Public Meeting
Presented By: Susan Lieberman, Certified Jin Shin Jyutsu Practitioner

Good morning. My name is Susan Lieberman, and I’m a JSJ practitioner. I’ve been nominated by several of the energy and light touch practitioners here today as their spokesperson, as well as by hundreds of other practitioners and concerned NJ citizens who were not able to attend today. Therefore, I speak for more than just the Jin Shin Jyutsu community.

First, I’d like to thank the members of the Board for allowing me to address you at this meeting. We appreciate the Board’s decision after the July 24, 2013 meeting to continue to analyze the licensure issue, “specifically in regards to the forms of therapy that focus on the energetic system of the body.”

I’d like to succinctly re-state our position. We assert that the NJ Massage and Bodywork Licensing Act (PL 2007 c. 337) does not apply to energy and light touch practitioners for the following 4 reasons:

  1. The Legislature in NJSA 45:11-54 (a) – (c) declared that the public interest required regulation and licensure of the practice of massage and bodywork to protect the health and welfare of the citizens of NJ and to encourage them to take advantage of massage and bodywork therapies.

    Thus, the purpose of regulation and licensure is to protect the public from harm. However, Energy and Light touch practitioners do no harm. Consequently, regulation should not be imposed without first showing clear and convincing evidence that these practices cause significant harm or danger to the health, safety and welfare of NJ citizens and that the potential for harm is not remote.

    In fact, there are several published studies by well-respected organizations, such as the Harvard Medical Institutions, that show the benefits of energy modalities. When the data is objectively reviewed, there is convincing evidence of the benefits without any significant harm. Because of this, NJ hospitals throughout the state have incorporated these practices into their Integrative Health Programs.

    So, contrary to the Legislature’s stated purpose, licensing of energy and light touch practitioners would actually restrict access to these services and harm the public.

  2. Energy and light touch therapies do not manipulate tissue through touch, nor are they “designed” or intended to affect the soft tissues of the body, which is the stated definition of “Massage and Bodywork Therapies” in NJSA 45:11-55 (of the NJ Massage and Bodywork Licensing Act). This aligns with the NIH definition of the CAM classification for Energy Therapies as separate from Manipulative and Body-Based Methods. As you know, the NIH’s NCCAM is the foremost authority on CAM modalities in the US, and they have already recognized that Energy Therapies are not “Massage” or “Bodywork.”

  3. In addition, the exemption for energy and light touch therapies already exists in NJSA 45:11-68 (e), which states “Nothing in this amendatory and supplementary act shall be construed to prohibit any person from using touch, words and directed movement to deepen awareness of existing patterns of movement provided that these services are not designated or implied to be massage and bodywork and the client is fully clothed.”

    Thus, since energy and light touch practices do not profess to do massage and bodywork, are not designed to manipulate soft tissue, and clients are fully clothed, NJSA 45:11-68 (e) applies to light touch and energy practitioners.

  4. The Law never mentioned or meant to apply to energy and light touch practitioners, since it did not state anything about “energy fields” in the definition of “massage and bodywork” in the Act. It specifically indicated that nothing should “prohibit any person from using touch, words and directed movement to deepen awareness of existing patterns of movement.”

    Therefore, the Definition of “Massage and Bodywork” in the Regulations (NJAC 13:37A-1.2) goes beyond the scope and intent of the Law when it re-defines “massage and bodywork” to include “practices of structured touch of the soft tissues that affect the energy fields of the body.” It is also in opposition to the NIH’s NCCAM definition of Energy Therapies as separate from massage and bodywork.
For the above stated reasons, we continue to assert that the NJ Massage and Bodywork Licensing Act does not apply to Energy and Light Touch practitioners.

Thank you for your time and consideration today.

Our interpretation of the Board's comments to us were:
  1. The Board has not yet made a decision regarding the Licensure issue, specifically in regards to the forms of therapy that focus on the energetic system of the body.
  2. Licensed Nurses acting within the scope of their Nursing License do not need a Massage and Bodywork License to practice energy and light-touch healing arts either within or outside a facility. We continue to recommend that you check with the NJ Board of Nursing to ensure that these therapies are considered within the scope of nursing practice.
  3. Training and education for your Licensure does not have to be in massage, but can be in your specific modality. However, you must have obtained this training from a state-accredited or approved school. At this time, we do not know the criteria for a "state-approved" school.
  4. Now that the August 30 deadline has elapsed for being able to apply for a license under the 200 hours-of-education requirement, training and education must now consist of 500 hours, as per the regulations (NJAC13:37A-21 d).
  5. If you plan on writing to the Board, and would like a response, remember to ask specific, targeted questions.
We also learned the importance of having a unified, educated and professional voice in front of the Board because they need to hear a clear, consistent, concise message from us: United we stand! Divided we fall!

  1. Join the Natural Healing Alliance so we can keep you informed.
  2. Numbers are power, help spread awareness by reaching more people. Pass this email along to your practitioner peers and encourage them to join the Natural Healing Alliance.
  3. Our strategy is to obtain full exemption from the NJ Massage and Bodywork Therapy Act. Once this has been achieved, we can then determine if we want full exemption through an amendment to the law, or a separate law. Regardless, we believe that for the growth of our professions, we will need to develop standards of care in the future.
  4. Many of you have asked about donating money to help support the cause. We are working hard at creating an organizational structure to enable us to accept donations and funding to cover legal and administrative costs. Stay tuned! More on this in the future.
We remain commmitted to the cause and keeping you informed.

Susan & Andrea
The Natural Healing Alliance.

The Natural Healing Alliance, © Copyright 2013

DISCLAIMER. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY. The Natural Healing Alliance is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not legal advice, nor do we make any representation of the accuracy of the website content, or that it accurately represents federal and state laws, statutes and regulations. We advise that you contact the NJ Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy to ascertain how the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Act applies in your specific situation and modality. You may also wish to contact your own personal legal counsel. The views expressed on this site respresent those of the Natural Healing Alliance and no other group, association, organization, or the NJ Department of Consumer Affairs.

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