Believe it or not, the terminology you use to refer to your massage therapist really does matter. The inspiration for this article was borrowed from Massage Magazine, March 2015 issue, which inspired us to educate you about the various titles that have been used historically to refer to individuals who practice in the massage therapy profession, as well as share with you our professional thoughts on the matter.
With it's vast history, massage therapist's have been referred to as "masseuse", "masseur", "massage practitioner", "massage therapist", and depending upon the country of reference, various other titles. Having been officially introduced as a healing profession in the United States during the mid-19th century the massage therapy profession has grown tremendously. Initially in the profession it was common-place to hear the French terms "masseuse" and "masseur" as a reference for massage therapists, but during the 1950's the terms became negatively associated with prostitution and from then until now the terms still carry the negative connotation of what is an illegal and unprofessional practice. It was in the 1970's that the clinical efficacy of massage therapy became more well-known, having been put into practice in the field of medicine by nurses and doctors. However, we still hear the outdated terms "masseuse" and "masseur" respectively today, and in an effort to continue to draw a line of clear distinction between ourselves and the prostitution industry, state and national licensure boards have legally adopted titles such as "massage therapist" and "massage practitioner" to help solidify this very important delineation. Additionally, most states now require that massage therapists have professional training, pass a national competency examination, as well as obtain a professional license to practice; hence, many massage therapists now carry the nationally recognized credentials LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist), CMT (Certified Massage Therapist), CMP (Certified Massage Practitioner), or LMP (Licensed Massage Practitioner).
So what does this mean for you? Well, not a lot really, unless you still find yourself using the terms "masseuse" or "masseur" when referring to your next massage therapy session. If you do happen to be a creature of old habits, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to adopt the new more appropriate and more respectful terminology, "massage therapist," and help us and other massage therapists around the country maintain our integrity as professional wellness practitioners. We heartily thank you!
Jerri W., LMT, CWC
Licensed Massage Therapist and Certified Wellness Coach with over 23 years of experience in pain management, relaxation techniques and lifestyle education.
Heather R., LMT, CWC
Certified Wellness Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist with a passion for helping others achieve optimal wellness through healthier living.
NOTICE: The information provided herein is meant for educational purposes only. We accept no liability for your use of the information provided. As always, use your best judgment and if in doubt, please consult your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.