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        Administrator:Theresa Brown
        Advice Counsel:   Georgia Lewis   **
        Directions:110 Centerview Dr, Columbia SC

**The Office of Advice Counsel is responsible for
providing legal advice to all Boards, Commissions
and Panels. These attorneys do not provide legal
advice to parties outside LLR.

South Carolina Massage/Bodywork Panel

South Carolina Massage/Bodywork Therapy


May 21, 2003

This is a statement of the Advisory Panel for Massage/Body Work as to what ethical practice is and should not be construed to control billing issues, insurance issues or employment contracts.


The purpose of the interpretations is to help safeguard public health, safety and welfare by clarifying the use of certain terms that are used in the practice act and to provide guidelines for licensees that are consistent with accepted standards and practice in the profession.


A. A person who advertises as a massage/bodywork therapist when a person uses or adopts any title or description, including but not limited to "massage practitioner,” "massage therapist,” "manual therapist,” "muscle therapist,” "massotherapist,” "myotherapist,” "bodywork therapist,” "body therapist,” "masseur,” "masseuse,” "massagist” or any other derivation of these terms implying the practice of massage/bodywork therapy.

B. A person who is licensed to practice massage/bodywork therapy shall not diagnose illness or disease, perform medical procedures, chiropractic adjustments, utilize electro-therapeutic devices as defined in Section 40-30-30, prescribe medicines, or engage in practices for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture or podiatry is required by law, unless the person is duly licensed in that profession.

C. In addition to the definitions provided in Section 40-1-20, as used in this chapter, unless the context indicates otherwise:

1. "Electro-therapeutic device” means a device that produces electrical conductivity. These devices include but are not limited to Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), Microcurrent Electrical Stimulation (MENS), Interferential Current (IFC), Iontophoresis, Ultrasound, Diathermy, and Ultraviolet apparatus. The use of such devices, which are subject to regulation by other professions, are not within the scope of practice of a licensed massage therapist and are prohibited.

2. "Massage device” means a mechanical device, which mimics or enhances the actions possible by the hand, foot, forearm, or elbow by means of vibration. Vibrators, although driven by electricity, do not produce electrical conductivity.

3. "Massage/bodywork therapist” means a person licensed as required by this chapter, who administers massage/bodywork therapy for compensation. A person shall not practice or advertise as a massage/bodywork therapist as defined in this chapter without first applying for and receiving from the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation a license to engage in that practice.

4. "Massage/bodywork therapy” means the application of a system of structured touch of the superficial tissues of the human body with the hand, foot, arm, or elbow with or without aid by hydrotherapy, thermal therapy, massage devices, human hands, or the application of herbal preparations for therapeutic, relaxation, or educational purposes.

It is further defined by pressure, friction, stroking, rocking, kneading, percussion, or passive active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement. Complimentary methods including the external application of water, thermal therapy, hydrotherapy, lubricants, and other topical preparations, including but not limited to herbal remedies, body wraps and salt scrubs.

5. "Sexual Activity” means any direct or indirect physical contact or verbal communication by any person or between persons which is intended to erotically stimulate either person, or which is likely to cause such stimulation. Such activity includes but is not limited to sexual intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation and anal intercourse. As used herein, masturbation means the manipulation of any body with the intent to cause sexual arousal. Sexual activity can involve the use of any device or object and is not dependent on whether penetration, orgasm or ejaculation has occurred. This includes the application of any oil, lotion or substance to any body with the intent to stimulate or cause sexual arousal.

6. "Therapeutic, relaxation and educational purposes” means purposes intended to positively affect the health and well being of a client and does not include sexual activity.

7. "Thermal therapy” means the use of ice or a heat lamp or moist heat on superficial tissues.


A. The following constitute misconduct and are grounds for the department denying initial licensure to practice massage/bodywork therapy or for a disciplinary panel to take immediate disciplinary action against a person who:

1. used a false, fraudulent, or forged statement or document or committed a fraudulent, deceitful, or dishonest act in applying for licensure under this chapter;

2. has had his or her license to practice massage/bodywork from another state or jurisdiction canceled, revoked, suspended, or otherwise restricted;

3. has violated a provision of this chapter, a regulation promulgated under this chapter, or an order of the department or the disciplinary panel;

4. has intentionally or knowingly, directly or indirectly, aided or abetted in the violation or conspiracy to violate this chapter or a regulation promulgated under this chapter;

5. has intentionally used a fraudulent statement in a document connected to the practice of massage/bodywork or has made false, deceptive, or misleading statements in the practice of massage/bodywork or in advertising;

6. has obtained fees or assisted in obtaining fees under intentionally fraudulent circumstances;

7. has committed dishonorable, unethical, or unprofessional conduct that is likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public; such conduct includes

(a) altering or defacing a license;

(b) participating in "sexual activity” with a client

(1) when the practice of massage and bodywork therapy is being conducted;

(2) in any location where the practice of massage and bodywork therapy is conducted, or use such location to make arrangements to engage in sexual activity; or

(3) with the use of the therapist-client relationship to engage in sexual activity with any client or make arrangements to engage in sexual activity with any client.

8. lacks the professional or ethical competence to practice massage/bodywork;

9. has been convicted of or has pled guilty to or nolo contendere to a felony or a crime which directly relates to the practice or ability to practice massage/bodywork;

10. has practiced massage/bodywork while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or uses alcohol or drugs to such a degree as to render him or her unfit to practice massage/bodywork;

11. has sustained a physical or mental disability, as determined by a physician, which renders further practice by the licensee dangerous to the public.

The following are interpretations that are not referred to in the current bill. The Panel would like for these issues to be addressed.

Frequently Asked Questions

B. Standards of Conduct

1. Draping of Clients: Licensees shall provide a clean drape for each client for the purpose of maintaining professional standards, and to ensure the clients safety, comfort, and privacy. The areas that must be draped are the gluteal and genital areas for male and female clients, and the breast area for female clients. The drape may be adjusted in order to perform therapeutic treatment to the gluteal and breast tissue.

2. Breast Massage: For the protection of the client and the massage therapist, massage of the breasts must be performed in a professional and ethical manner and with prior written consent from the client or physician referral on file. When medical reasons are involved and contraindications may be an issue, a physician's referral is necessary.

C. Scope of Practice

Animal Massage (including Equine Massage) is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Veterinary Medicine and not within the scope of practice of massage/bodywork therapy as defined in this chapter although animal massage can be preformed by anyone who has obtained authorization from the animals veterinarian.

D. Exemptions from Licensure

The Department considers exempt those persons engaging in a profession with established standards and ethics in which touch is limited to that which is essential for affecting the human energy system, provided that their services are not within the scope of practice of massage/bodywork therapy as defined. Further, their services cannot be designated or implied to be massage or massage/bodywork therapy as defined.

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