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Details on the education and examination requirements for Massage therapists and reasons why massotherapeutic medicine can play a vital role in the healthcare system.

Interest in alternative medicine has grown significantly over the last decade, creating a demand for alternative practitioners. Three elements must be present to ensure that these healthcare professionals do not pose a threat to public health:


Practitioners must be educated at medical colleges that have been accredited by an agency recognized by the Alternative Medicine Examiners Council of Canada (AMECC).;


Practitioners must be examined by a national examining board that sets high standards for eligibility and provides standardized test administration; board examinations must be developed in accordance with national testing standards; and


Practitioners must be licensed, required to take continuing education, and subject to peer review.

One massage therapy college in Canada is currently accredited by the Alternative Medicine Examiners Council of Canada (AMECC).. The CCNE is the only massage therapy accrediting body recognized by the Alternative Medicine Examiners Council of Canada (AMECC).

The education a Massage Therapist follows a path similar to that of physiotherapists. Applicants enter massotherapy school after receiving a baccalaureate degree (usually pre-med) from a four-year college or equivalent. Students complete two years of post-graduate basic science coursework then have two to three years of didactic and clinical training, including time spent in supervised patient care.

The Canadian Council of Massotherapeutic Examiners (CCME) uses the CCMEX to examine all massage therapists who want to be licensed in provinces that license massage therapists. The Canadian Council of Massotherapeutic Examiners (CCMEX) are criterion-referenced examinations. Part I - Basic Science Examinations cover anatomy, physiology, immunology, and pathology. The Part I Examinations are taken after the second year of training. Part II - Clinical Science Examinations cover diagnosis using physical examination and lab testing, emergency and medical procedures, as well as massage treatment modalities (botanical medicine, physical medicine, counseling & health psychotherapy). The CCMEX examinations are developed according to all the guidelines set forth in the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

After graduation from the accredited Massage Therapy college and passage of Part II - Clinical Science Examinations, candidates apply to one of the jurisdictions that have laws that enable licensed Massage Therapists to serve their communities as providers of care in Canada. Licensed Massage Therapists are required to obtain continuing education and are subject to peer review.

Massage Therapy can play a vital, cost-effective role in the healthcare system:

  • Massage Therapists are care providers who treat patients for a variety of conditions, using therapies that are non-invasive, safe, and effective. More patients are demanding these kinds of treatment options, and the cost of Massage Therapy care is minimal when compared to the skyrocketing costs of drugs.
  • Because Massage Therapy places significant emphasis on prevention (not merely on screening for pre-existing conditions), it can help stem the increasing incidence of chronic disease. For a small expenditure now, significant costs can be prevented later.
  • Massage Therapy provides vital adjunctive care when a patient is being treated by a medical doctor for a serious condition. For example, Massage Therapy can help allay the severe side effects of medication and can provide support for better healing. A study done recently showed that this valuable care accounts for only 2% of the cost of other treatments.
  • Massage Therapists can meet the growing shortage of healthcare providers in rural areas. Efforts are under way to allow Massage Therapists to be granted the same kinds of loan repayment options to encourage participation in rural, veterans, and Indian health programs that are available for MDs, DCs, DOs, and other eligible providers.
  • A patient who is rushed through appointments and feels that her/his doctor does not listen is more likely to file a lawsuit in the case of a mistake than is a patient who feels a respectful partnership with her/his physician. Massage Therapists spend a great deal of time listening to their patients, attending to their emotional, mental, and spiritual needs as well as to their physical symptoms. Cases of malpractice are extremely rare in the Massage Therapy profession.



Alternative Medicine Examiners Council of Canada (AMECC)

Conseil des Examinateurs en Massothérapie du Québec (CEMQ)

Le Syndicat Professionnel des Techniciens en Thérapie Manuelle du Québec (SPTTMQ)

Collège de Massothérapie du Québec a Montreal (CMQM)

Le Syndicat Professionnel des Massothérapeutes du Québec (SPMQ)

[English] - [French]


During the first 2 ½ - 3 years of massage school, the education of Massage Therapy follows a path similar to that of physiotherapists. Students in both allopathic and Massage Therapy colleges receive extensive training in the medical sciences, and in physical, and clinical diagnosis. Both receive training in emergency procedures, public health, and principles of pharmacology. The Massage Therapy colleges use standard medical texts for this phase of the training. The paths of Massage Therapy education and allopathic medical education diverge after this point. Physiotherapists learn how to work with patients who have been prescribed drugs from MDs and or refer for surgery. Massage Therapists learn how to help patients who have been prescribed drugs from MDs. With physical medicine (e.g., hydrotherapy, soft tissue massage, osseous manipulation, etc.) mind-body medicine also refers to NDs, DCs, DOs, and Psychotherapists.

Four keys differences distinguish the Massage therapy approach from the approach used by allopathic physiotherapists:

  • Emphasis on prevention
  • Search for and treatment of the cause of illness (as compared to an approach that treats the symptoms of the illness)
  • Individualized treatment (e.g. two patients being treated for the same pathology may have completely different treatment protocols)
  • A goal of removing obstacles to the bodys own innate healing processes (as compared to the idea that “cure” must come from external sources)

Massage Therapist License Requirements

Massage Therapy: Initial License Requirements

  • Submit a massage therapist license application & pay the required license fee;
  • Possess a good moral and professional reputation;
  • Be physically and mentally fit to practice massage therapy;
  • Graduate from a massage therapy college that is accredited by the Council or another such accrediting agency recognized by the federal government; or graduate from a foreign country osteopathic medical college that possesses equivalent qualifications; and
  • Successfully complete the Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Examiners (CCME) examinations.

The Alternative Medicine Examiners Council of Canada (AMECC)'s mission is to ensure the high quality of alternative medicine education in Canada through the voluntary accreditation of four-year, graduate-level programs in alternative medicine. Students and graduates of programs accredited or pre-accredited (candidacy) by AMECC are eligible to apply for the osteopathic licensing examinations administered by the Canadian Council of Massage Therapist Examiners (CCME).

Founded in 1991, CCME is accepted as the programmatic accrediting agency for osteopathic medical education by the osteopathic college and programs in Canada, by the Canadian National Massage Therapy Professional Syndicates CNMPS, and by AMECC. CCME advocates for high standards in Massage therapy education, and its grant of accreditation to a college or program indicates prospective students and the public may have confidence in the college or program. The CCME is the national accrediting agency for programs leading to the Massage Therapist degree.

An accreditation handbook, containing CCME standards, policies, procedures, and governing documents, is available for $20, prepaid. A free PDF version is available by e-mail upon request. The PDF file may be opened and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free download.

CCME also certifies postdoctoral programs in Massage Therapy. Among these programs are massage therapy residencies that provide licensed massage therapists with postgraduate training in massage therapy family care and other specialties. A manual containing CCME's standards for residency programs may be ordered for $15, prepaid. A free PDF version is available by e-mail.

CCME is a member of the Alternative Medicine Examiners Council of Canada (AMECC) and abides by the CPMDQ Code of Good Practice.

The accredited and candidate of Massage therapy programs, as well as the certified residency programs, are listed on the links page. After accessing the links page, click the name of the program or its logo to go to the Website for the college or university that offers the program.

For frequently asked questions, click "FAQs" on the menu.

CCMEs next meeting will be held April 8 & 9, 2006, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.