Indiana Massage Therapist License Attorney
Licensed massage therapists know that there is an art to massage therapy that must be learned. In fact, the state of Indiana recently increased the required training for licensure as a massage therapist to 625 hours and is moving from requiring certification to licensure. You made a significant investment in your future when you became a therapist, so any threat to your license is a threat to that investment and your livelihood. If that happens, you need an Indiana massage therapist license attorney on your side.
The license defense lawyers at Keffer Hirschauer LLP help professionals like massage therapists protect their jobs and businesses by providing experienced advice and representation in licensing matters and defense against complaints. With decades of experience as litigators, you could be in no better hands.
Why an Indiana Massage Therapist License Attorney Is Beneficial
To work as a massage therapist in Indiana, you must pass the relevant examination and then practice according to strict rules. Failure to do so can result in a complaint requiring investigation and adjudication by the state. The process, even the very complaint itself, can seriously impact your ability to earn a living in your chosen profession.
Navigating the statutory requirements to practice as a massage therapist in Indiana can be confusing, especially when requirements change. Likewise, dealing with complaints regarding your qualifications to practice as a massage therapist or your professional conduct is fraught with legal pitfalls. Having an attorney experienced in dealing with these issues is crucial for protecting your ability to practice your craft in Indiana.
At Keffer Hirschauer LLP, your Indiana massage therapist license attorney has keen insight into professional licensure and complaint resolution in Indiana.
The Shift from Certification to Licensure for Indiana Massage Therapists
The Indiana General Assembly rather recently recognized the status of massage therapy as a profession by passing legislation that changed from optional certification to mandatory licensure for massage therapists. This new law took effect July 1, 2019, but its implementation is delayed until the State Board of Massage Therapy (Board) promulgates the necessary regulations.
Once the Board adopts new administrative regulations to establish the rules for licensure, any massage therapist certified by the Board as of the date of the new regulations is automatically licensed to practice in Indiana. If a massage therapist is not certified by the Board as of the regulation date, that therapist will have 183 days during which to apply for licensure.
Massage therapists must be keenly aware of the requirements for practicing in Indiana. Some are general in nature while others are very specific. Either type can be the basis for complaints to be filed by clients. Even if you don’t have certification or licensure questions, consulting Indiana massage therapist lawyers can help you ward off complaints by explaining what state law and regulations require of massage therapists practicing in this state.
Examples of General Requirements Where an Indiana Massage Therapist License Attorney May Be Needed
The more general requirements can be, the more problematic because of the lack of specificity. For example, the current Board regulations at Indiana Administrative Code title 847 currently require that a therapist practice within the scope of his or her training and education and prohibits massage therapists from misrepresenting their professional qualifications relating certification, education, experience, or areas of competence.
Similarly general, the rules require massage therapists to practice with level of treatment, skill, and care that another reasonably prudent massage therapist would recognize as being acceptable under the circumstances.
These kinds of rules can be interpreted differently by different people. They can open the door for specific complaints that may or may not be considered to violate the rules. This is one reason that massage therapists in Indiana need the services of an Indianapolis massage therapist lawyer from Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
Other Requirements of Indiana Massage Therapists
Indiana statutes and regulations governing massage therapists also include more specific requirements as well as some prohibitions. Specifically, a massage therapist must do the following:
- Obtain information from a client about the reasons and expectations for the therapy session
- Obtain health history and current health status to determine the indications and contraindications for the application of massage therapy
- Obtain written consent of a parent or guardian for massage therapy provided to a minor
- Display a fee schedule or discuss fees and payment prior to providing services
- Wear clothing that is professional, clean, and modest
- Provide privacy for the client while dressing and undressing
- Provide draping that provides privacy for the client
There are a number of prohibitions that recognize the physical touching required for massage therapy. Many seem very obvious, but they are still stated under the same Indiana Administrative Code as general requirements. For example, a therapist may not provide services while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A therapist is not to engage in sexual activity with a client during a session or at an establishment where massage therapy is conducted. Similarly, a therapist may not permit such activity on the part of another person with a client.
Further, once the regulations for licensure of massage therapists are final and take effect, they may add new requirements for these professionals. An Indiana massage therapist license attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP can explain the changing statutory requirements for practitioners in this field and help you with the license application process when it starts.
Complaints that Demand an Indiana Massage Therapist License Attorney
The requirements for privacy and the prohibitions against improper touching or sexual activity seem like no-brainers, but things like this have happened. Significantly, there is no distinction made between consensual and nonconsensual sexual activity. Therefore, even if a consenting client did not file a complaint, someone else could, and the violation would still be punishable.
When the regulations regarding licensure are finalized and implemented, massage therapists will also need to be aware of general licensure requirements. Specifically, a massage therapist may be denied certification (or licensure) if he or she is convicted of a crime involving sexual misconduct, rape, or prostitution or is required to register as a sex offender.
In addition to these rules specific to massage therapists, upon implementation of the licensure regulations, massage therapists will also be subject to certain prohibitions that apply to all professions licensed through the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (PLA). These include engaging in fraud or material deception in the course of professional services, advertising services in a false or misleading manner, or undertaking professional activities that the professional is not qualified to perform by training or experience.
These are but a few of the current and future rules that govern the practice of massage therapy. The body of statutes and regulations governing massage therapists in particular and licensed professionals generally offer a lot of room for missteps by massage therapists that, even if unintentional, can result in a complaint that could threaten your ability to work in your chosen profession in Indiana. Once that occurs, there is a process that kicks into gear, and a corresponding need for Indianapolis massage therapist license defense.
Negotiating with the Board Through an Indiana Massage Therapist License Attorney
Massage therapy is one of several professions for which the PLA oversees the licensure and complaint process. Indiana Code chapter 25-1-7 sets out the procedure for investigating and resolving such complaints for licensed professionals, including massage therapists. First, the Indiana Attorney General Consumer Protection Division is responsible for investigating complaints against licensed professionals under the PLA umbrella.
Anyone can file a complaint against a massage therapist, such as a client, a colleague, or even the State Board of Massage Therapy (Board). However, every complaint must be in writing and signed by the person or entity filing the complaint. Upon receiving a complaint, the director of the Consumer Protection Division makes an initial determination whether it appears to have merit. If so, the director formally notifies the Board, initiating the formal process for resolving the complaint. The director also notifies the massage therapist who is the subject of the complaint of the fact that a complaint has been filed and that the Board has a duty to try to resolve it through negotiation.
Upon notifying the Board of the complaint, the Consumer Protection Division defers any further action for a period of thirty (30) days to allow the Board time to negotiate a settlement between the person or entity making the complaint and the accused massage therapist. If the Board cannot achieve a settlement by the end of the 30-day period, the Division investigates the allegations in the complaint.
Once an investigation is completed the director of the Consumer Protection Division determines whether the evidence supports the allegations and shows that the accused massage therapist should be subjected to disciplinary action by the Board. If reaching that conclusion, the director refers the complaint to the attorney general.
The attorney general must decide whether to prosecute a complaint before the Board. However, if the Board unanimously votes to have the matter prosecuted, the attorney general’s discretion is overridden and he or she is required to prosecute the complaint.
Successfully defending yourself through this process requires experience, legal insights, and skill you’ll find when you hire an Indiana massage therapist license attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP.
Types of Penalties that a Massage Therapist May Face from the Board
For all prosecuted complaints, the massage therapist is entitled to a hearing before the Board or an administrative law judge (ALJ). If, after the hearing results, the Board finds that the evidence supports the allegations, it may impose one or more of the following disciplinary consequences on the massage therapist:
- Revoking the massage therapist’s license
- Suspending the massage therapist’s license
- Censuring the message therapist
- Issuing a written reprimand
- Placing the massage therapist on probation
- Assessing a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 against the massage therapist
- Ordering the massage therapist to pay restitution to the person who suffered damage
In addition to one or more of these penalties, discipline of any type can cause irreparable damage to a massage therapist’s reputation and business. That’s why working with one of the massage therapist license attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP is vital to protecting your future.
Schedule a Consultation Today with Your Indiana Massage Therapist License Attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP
Whether you are looking for a defense counsel or simply need advice about applying for or renewing your massage therapist license, you can always count on an Indiana massage therapist license attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP to provide knowledgeable counsel and rigorous, skilled defense. Based in Indianapolis, we offer counsel and defense to massage therapists across the state. For a free consultation, just call (317) 857-0160 or visit the contact page today!