The Influence of Practice Standards on Massage Therapists’ Work Experience: A Phenomenological Pilot Study

Luann D. Fortune, LMT, MA, Elena Gillespie, MA


This original research is framed in phenomenological methodology, based on interviews conducted and interpreted using qualitative research methods. The findings suggest that, because of both direct and indirect factors (such as the nebulous nature of the work, general isolation in work conditions, and physical concerns), massage therapists perform their work with multiple sources of ambiguity that are potentially anxiety-causing. Licensing offers potential relief for this anxiety, but also generates a new set of frustrations and work concerns. The new concerns include the potential that practice will change to adapt to non-relevant standards and the difficulty of defining a body of work that frequently defies a “one size fits all” categorization. This pilot study suggests several areas for further exploration and also demonstrates the generativity of phenomenological methodology for research related to massage therapy.


Bodyworker; professions; licensing; jurisdiction; anxiety; hermeneutic; qualitative; health care

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International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
ISSN 1916-257X