What laws are in place to protect the public from unqualified or incompetent therapists?

                                    LAWS and REGULATION OF MASSAGE THERAPY

The regulation and registration of complementary therapists in the UK is voluntary self-regulation. This means that there are no laws in place to protect the public from unqualified or incompetent therapists. There are also no minimum number of hours required for massage practitioners to have in order to call themselves a massage therapist in the UK. Unfortunately, the term, "massage therapist" is not a protected title the way the term "physiotherapist" is a protected title. In other countries, such as the USA, however, it is illegal to call yourself a "Massage Therapist" unless you have several hundred hours of accredited hours of training plus a license to practise in most states. Hopefully, one day the UK will include massage therapy as a legitimate part of the medical profession and set higher standards for the massage therapy profession.

In accordance with government recommendations, the various professional associations in each therapy have been working together to agree standards and requirements for each type of complementary therapy.

For those who are looking for a qualified massage therapist, it can be a challenge to ascertain how qualified a massage practitioner is. Some professional awarding bodies or associations only require minimal standards, whereas other professional organisations or professional associations have a higher level of standards. 

Even if a massage therapist belongs to a professional association, it does not measure the practitioner's experience in the massage therapy profession. As a consumer, you need to be sure you do your homework to make sure your massage therapist is not only fully qualified by the highest standards, but also has the work experience behind him or her.


The two main regulators for complementary therapy are CNHC and GRCCT. Again, this is a voluntary process for massage therapists to apply to for membership (which is not guaranteed and is dependent on qualifications). Since there are no laws to protect the public from the incompetence of massage therapists, becoming a member of one of these regulatory bodies helps the massage therapist demonstrate his or her professional commitment to the profession.

CNHC is the UK register for complementary healthcare practitioners that was set up in 2008 with government funding and support. Our key purpose is to protect the public. They hold a UK register of complementary health practitioners who have met UK standards. CNHC registrants work in private practice, the NHS and a wide range of other health and care settings.

CNHC is the holder of an Accredited Register by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, the independent government-appointed body that oversees and scrutinises the work of the nine statutory medical, health and care regulators. These include the General Medical Council (GMC), the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). Since March 2012 the Authority has also been able to accredit registers of health and care occupations that are not regulated by law and CNHC has successfully completed this process.

GRCCT is a UK federal regulator for complementary therapies whose purpose is to protect the public by promoting and enforcing high standards of education, performance and conduct amongst practitioners of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


Not all massage therapists will decide to join a Regulatory Body. Whether a massage therapist registers voluntarily with a regulatory body or not, it is strongly recommended that he or she belongs to a professional association. It demonstrates they are professional, qualified and committed to the profession and follow a code of conduct and ethics within their practise. There are many different professional associations available, and each one has a different set of standards are criteria and qualification standards.