Part of the professional responsibility all health-care practitioners includes public education. While Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) continues to grow in popularity, a large majority remain unfamiliar with services available to them and their benefits.

The practice of massage therapy is 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 (Massage Therapy Act, 1991).

Massage therapy is currently regulated in only 3 Canadian provinces:
British Columbia, New Foundland and Ontario. Regulated since 1919, massage therapists have been providing safe, ethical care to the Ontario public for 83 years. As of August 2007, the number of massage therapists registered with the College is 8250. Several other provinces – including Alberta and Manitoba – are currently working towards regulation.

The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO), one of Ontario’s 21 health regulatory bodies, is a provincial regulatory agency that exists to administer the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and the Massage Therapy Act, 1991 as they pertain to the practice of the profession. The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) also creates and upholds our professionals standards and regulations as well as promotes and protects the general public.

In Canada, a candidate must complete a 2-3 year training program (2200-hour) in the areas of massage theory, anatomy, physiology, pathology, orthopedic assessment, research, kinesiology, hydrotherapy and remedial exercise related to massage therapy treatment. Training includes a minimum of 150 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Training programs in the USA are typically 500–1000 hours in length.

British Columbia requires 3200 hours of classroom instruction making B.C. graduates the most highly trained massage therapests in the world. Comparatively, Doctors of Chiropractor and Naturopath enroll in a 4-year program and Physiotherapists in a 2-year program.

Following graduation, a candidate must pass a certification examination administered by the CMTO before they can register with the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (the College) and use the title “Massage Therapist”. They remain a member as long as they pay our annual professional license fees and remain in good standing. However, ongoing education and training remains a huge priority to the profession. As with all regulated health professions, RMT’s are required to attain a minimum number of Continuing Educations Units (CEU’s) per a 3-year cycle in addition to a professional audit by the CMTO every 5 years to ensure RMT’s are following the standards and regulations set by the college.

What does that all mean? It means Canadians — from at least 3 Canadian provinces — have access to among some of the most highly educated and trained massage therapists in the world. As a massage therapist and as a massage patient, that’s something we can all hang our hat on.