Massage Therapy

Massage therapy means the manipulation of soft tissue by hand or through a mechanical or electrical apparatus for the purpose of body massage. The term includes effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), compression, vibration, friction, nerve strokes, and Swedish gymnastics. Massage therapy may include the use of oil, lubricant, salt glows, heat lamps, hot and cold packs, or tub, shower, jacuzzi, sauna, steam or cabinet baths. Massage therapy is a health care service when the massage is for therapeutic purposes, and a licensed massage therapist may receive referrals from a physician to administer massage therapy.


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News and Updates

TDLR Health Monitor - August 2018 Edition

Articles in this August 2018 edition of The Health Monitor include an update on behavior analyst licensing; online supervision reporting for audiologists; TDLR’s Strategic Plan for 2019-2023; rule amendments for the mold program and orthotists and prosthetists program; criminal conviction guidelines for registered sanitarians and code enforcement officers; information for dietitians on telehealth practices; and outreach activities.

The TDLR Health Monitor is a quarterly newsletter that provides news and information about TDLR’s medical and health-related programs. Archives of past editions of the TDLR Health Monitor can be viewed here.

Vacancy on Massage Therapy Advisory Board

TDLR announces one vacancy on the Massage Therapy Advisory Board for one public member. The purpose of the Board is to provide advice and recommendations to the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation and TDLR on technical matters. This announcement is for one member of the public.

Interested persons should submit an application online. Applicants can also request an application from TDLR by telephone at (800) 803-9202 or email at advisory.boards@tdlr.texas.gov.

Adoption of Repeal of Duplicate Administrative Rules

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted the repeal of inactive rules regarding the Massage Therapists program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 147, §§147.1 - 147.55).

The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site.

Adopted Administrative Rules

The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation adopted amendments to existing rules regarding the Massage Therapy program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 117, Subchapter A, §117.2; Subchapter C, §117.20; Subchapter E, §117.40; Subchapter F, §§117.50, 117.60, and 117.62; Subchapter G, §117.80 and §117.82; Subchapter J, §117.111; and new rules Subchapter B §§117.10 - 117.14).

The adoption justification may be viewed on TDLR’s web site and the adopted rule chapter will be made available upon its effective date of May 1, 2018.

MBLEx Exam Changes Effective July 1, 2018

The content of the massage therapist licensing exam is changing. The primary change, effective July 1, 2018, is that applicants will no longer be tested on the history and culture of the profession. A full list of all upcoming changes to the exam content is available on the FSMTB Exam Content page. There are no changes to the testing process.

Proposed Repeal of Duplicate Massage Therapy Administrative Rules

The Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 202 (S.B. 202), 84th Legislature, Regular Session (2015), which transferred regulation of the Massage Therapy program from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). To complete the implementation of S.B. 202, TDLR transferred the previous Massage Therapy program rules from Title 25, Chapter 140, Subchapter H to Title 16, Chapter 147. TDLR is now proposing the repeal of the transferred rules located at Chapter 147, §§147.1 - 147.55. The rules proposed for repeal are obsolete.

On August 18, 2017, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) adopted its own set of rules for the Massage Therapy program located at 16 TAC, Chapter 117. The Commission’s rules were effective November 1, 2017, (42 TexReg 4991).

This proposed repeal does NOT affect the current Massage Therapy program rules which were adopted by the Commission on August 18, 2017, located at Title 16, Chapter 117.

View the repeal proposal

TDLR will accept comments on the proposal until March 5, 2018. Comments may be submitted by email to erule.comments@tdlr.texas.gov.

Notice for All Schools and Educational Programs Licensed by TDLR

As of September 1, 2017, House Bill 1508 requires that all entities providing educational or instructional programs that prepare a student for an occupation or vocation requiring a TDLR license to:

    1. Inform the student or program participant that eligibility for a TDLR license could be affected by the person’s criminal history;
    2. Notify students and participants that TDLR is responsible for having in place guidelines regarding a license applicant's criminal history, and to include information on an applicant's ability to be licensed under those guidelines;
    3. Provide students with information on other state or local restrictions that would affect the student’s eligibility for an occupational license issued by TDLR;
    4. Inform students of the student's right to request a criminal history evaluation letter from TDLR;
    5. Provide all persons who enroll in their program with notice of the requirements as described above, regardless of whether or not the person has been convicted of a criminal offense. 

An educational entity or training program operator who fails to provide this information to a person who is enrolled in their course may be liable for tuition or application fees paid by any student who is denied a TDLR license due to the existence of a criminal conviction.

Vacancies on Massage Therapy Advisory Board

TDLR announces two vacancies on the Massage Therapy Advisory Board (Board) established by Texas Occupations Code, Chapter 455. The purpose of the Board is to provide advice and recommendations to the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation (Commission) and TDLR on technical matters relevant to the administration of this chapter. This announcement is for the positions listed below:

  1. One member who is a peace officer with expertise in the enforcement of Chapter 20A, Penal Code, and Subchapter A, Chapter 43, Penal Code
  2. One member of the public

The Board is composed of the following nine members appointed by the presiding officer of the Commission, with the Commission's approval:

  1. Two members who are licensed massage therapists
  2. Two members who represent licensed massage schools
  3. Two members who represent licensed massage establishments
  4. One member who is a peace officer with expertise in the enforcement of Chapter 20A, Penal Code, and Subchapter A, Chapter 43, Penal Code
  5. Two members of the public

Members of the Board are appointed for staggered six-year terms. The terms of three members expire September 1 of each odd-numbered year. Serving on the Board is not a paid position and there is no compensation for serving on the Board.

Interested persons should submit an application online. Applicants can also request an application from TDLR by telephone at (800) 803-9202 or email at advisory.boards@tdlr.texas.gov.


Advisory Board Meetings

Next Meeting

The next Massage Therapy Advisory Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 17, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. in the 1st Floor Public Meeting Room of TDLR's North Campus Building, located at 1106 Clayton Lane, Suite 125E, in Austin. When the agenda and staff reports are available, they will be posted online.

Previous Meeting - October 16, 2018

The Massage Therapy Advisory Board met October 16 in Austin. The agenda and staff reports (PDF) are available online. The meeting was archived and is available on TDLR's YouTube channel.


Transition from DSHS to TDLR

1. When did the transfer happen?

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) assumed all activities relating to the Massage Therapy program including licenses and renewals, customer service and enforcement on November 1, 2017.

2. Now that the transfer is complete, will I need to get a new license issued by TDLR?

No. The license you have now, issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), remains valid until its expiration date. When you renew, you will receive a TDLR license.

3. Have the rules changed?

Yes, TDLR adopted rules for all of the transferred programs. Most of the newly adopted rules are very similar, but some changes have been made. The TDLR health profession rules became effective on November 1, 2017.

4. What is going to happen with open complaints and cases?

If you filed a complaint with DSHS or had a complaint filed against your license and it was not resolved by the transfer date, TDLR assumed responsibility for the case. You should have already received notification by mail that your complaint was transferred to TDLR.

5. How do I stay informed about changes impacting me?

You have several options to stay connected:

  • Email updates - Sign up for email updates to receive notices about rules, the law, fees, examination requirements, meetings and more. Email updates are the best way for you to stay informed.
  • Meetings - TDLR’s advisory board and Commission meetings are available to watch online live or later at your convenience.
  • Facebook and Twitter - TDLR has a Facebook page and Twitter account dedicated to TDLR Health Professions.

6. Why was my license expiration date extended? Will I have the same expiration date in the future?

To ease the transition, DSHS extended the expiration date by two months for licenses previously set to expire in September, and October, and November 2017. For example, if your original expiration date was September 30, your new expiration date is November 30. If your license was extended, you will continue to renew your license in the new expiration month in the future. Licenses in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey were also extended by DSHS.

7. Will I have to renew on a different schedule?

You will renew on the same schedule unless your license expired in August, September or October 2016. Licenses expiring in those months were extended for two months to ease the transition from DSHS to TDLR. In addition, licenses in counties affected by Hurricane Harvey were also extended by DSHS. If your license was extended, you will now renew in your new expiration month for future renewals. Your license expiration date will not return to your original expiration month.

8. Why were licensing programs transferred from DSHS to TDLR?

The transfer is the result of a change to Texas law. In 2015, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 202, which authorized the transfer of thirteen licensing programs from the DSHS to TDLR.