Breaking Down Misconceptions About Massage Therapy

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 02:12 PM

Massage therapists continue to be in great demand post-pandemic. While there is no report on the total number of massage therapists in Canada, as of December 31, 2021, there were over 14,000 practising massage therapists in Ontario (PDF) alone.

With numbers like that, it is no surprise that the massage therapy industry appears complex to those new to it.

An NHPC massage therapist consults with a client

From regulation of the industry between provinces and territories to multiple sources of information across the country, it can be difficult to navigate the different jurisdictions, whether you are a member of the public, an employer, from the insurance industry, or a massage therapist yourself.

Our Membership, Industry Relations, and Practice Management teams collaborated to answer a few commonly asked questions in the massage therapy industry and about the NHPC.

Questions About the NHPC and NHPC Practitioners

Who does the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada represent?

The NHPC represents massage therapists and holistic health practitioners across Canada as a professional association. All of the therapies we recognize are outlined in our Holistic Health Guide.

Is the NHPC a national association?

Yes! The NHPC is extra-provincially registered in every province and territory, meaning we are a national association.

We have had several members on our Board of Directors over the years who live and work across Canada, providing perspectives from the east coast to west coast. Our office is located in Edmonton, Alberta.

As a national association, we provide members with liability insurance coverage across the country as well as specialized support.

What education or training do NHPC massage therapists need?

We require massage therapist members to be graduates from an NHPC-recognized, 2200-hour training program.

We have a thorough application process that evaluates massage therapy educational programs to determine if they meet high delivery standards and the national curriculum standards (PDF) set out by the Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FOMTRAC).

NHPC members are graduates of the same educational institutions as other massage therapists across Canada. NHPC massage therapists are held to the high standards outlined in the NHPC Bylaws, Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, and Continued Competency program.

How are new practices recognized by the NHPC?

The NHPC Credentials Committee obtains, verifies, and assesses the qualifications for a given profession. They review NHPC processes for credentialing holistic health practices and review applications to recognize new practices.

The committee uses a process to examine a modality or practice through a series of questions that identify risk, training, and standards of practice necessary to provide the service competently and safely.

How many Association members are massage therapists vs. non-massage therapists?

The majority of NHPC members are massage therapists (over 90%). However, many of our members are recognized for more than one holistic health practice, which means they can offer enhanced massage therapy treatments or stand-alone treatments of aromatherapy, stone therapy, and more!

We support practitioners from many therapies — more than 60, in fact.

The holistic health industry trends towards using more than one practice to provide a more robust treatment plan. This trend is expected to continue, and NHPC members are well-equipped to add as many NHPC-recognized practices they'd like to their membership (with proof of training).

Questions about the Massage Therapy Industry and General Treatment

In Canada, what is the difference between a "Registered Massage Therapist (RMT)" and a "Massage Therapist?"

The term "Registered Massage Therapist" is a protected title in regulated provinces (which include BC, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and PEI as of October 2022).

In these provinces, this title is governed by the regulatory body, meaning you can only use it if you are part of their College of Massage Therapists.

In unregulated provinces and territories (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut), titles around massage therapy are not normally restricted by legislation in the same way as regulated provinces. However, Nova Scotia created the Massage Therapist Titles Protection Act in 2019 to limit the use of the title prior to regulating.

Do I need a doctor's referral to get a massage?

Generally, you can book a massage whenever you want, regardless of whether you experience any symptoms or not. However, we recommend checking with your insurance carrier to see if they require a prescription to cover your treatment.

Massage therapists work in various settings. A doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor, or other holistic practitioner may recommend a massage therapist to you. Even your friends and family may recommend their favourite massage therapist!

Will my insurance cover treatment from an NHPC massage therapist?

The NHPC is an approved association by health benefit insurance companies across Canada.

NHPC massage therapy providers can bill insurers for eligible services in a client's health benefit coverage. What is eligible to be covered will depend on your health benefits plan.

If your insurance does not cover the treatment you'd like, you can request that your plan provider include massage therapy coverage or use our coverage request letters for other NHPC-recognized treatments, such as reflexology.

Who should get a massage therapy treatment?

People of all ages can benefit from massage therapy, from infancy through adulthood!

You don't need a specific reason to go for a massage. While many individuals seek massage for chronic pain or to address a certain symptom or condition, you may simply wish to get a massage to relax and refresh.

We encourage Canadians to seek massage therapy year-round. It is an accessible form of treatment that is covered by many insurance plans and can be quite affordable depending on the setting, such as a spa or clinic.

The popularity of massage therapy has also made it easier to find a practitioner. Even in rural communities, a massage therapist is likely located near you.

Spread the Facts

Misconceptions about massage therapy negatively impact the industry and often contribute to its complexities. We believe that the more people who understand how it works, the better the industry will become.

Reading this article is a great first step, but help us spread the word by sharing resources, such as this article, our Standards of Practice, our blog, or general holistic health information.

Stay up to date on the latest information in the industry by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Are there any additional misconceptions about massage therapy that you'd like us to clarify? Let us know by emailing us at

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