Mar 28 2008

Masseuse, masseur, or massage therapist?

Published by at 11:41 pm under What do youcall yourself?

With the untimely death of actor Heath Ledger, the issue of what to call ourselves in the massage profession comes up again. The news media continues to prefer the term masseuse, as evidenced by the many uses of the term in referring to the woman who discovered Mr. Ledger’s body. A few news reports did use the term massage therapist.

In my experience, many people still use the word masseuse, even when referring to a male massage therapist. Masseur and masseuse are French words, and French nouns are gender-specific. Here in the USA, we’ve gone more and more to gender-neutral terms, like massage therapist, wait-person, administrative assistant, etc.

Although most of us prefer the term massage therapist, not all in our profession like that title. What do you call yourself? Do you correct clients, or potential clients, when they use the “wrong” title for you?

Looking for more information on this topic or would you like to join the conversation? Check out our updated article here:

77 responses so far

77 Responses to “Masseuse, masseur, or massage therapist?”

  1. Christineon 29 Mar 2008 at 4:28 pm

    I prefer “massage therapist” and let people know my preference and why. It’s my experience that the people who refer to me as a “masseuse” are not aware that this carries a negative connotation. While gently educating them, I like to think I’m doing my part to steadfastly educate others.

  2. Micheleon 30 Mar 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I do (gently) correct those that use an “incorrect” term. Many individauls search for the correct term, “masseuse, massotherapist, massage therapist,” in their speech. I simply state the correct term of “massage therapist.” I haved earned my credentials by testing at the State Medical Board of Ohio and am a licensed massage therapist. Lesser terms for a massage therapist tend to connotate lower education and even those in the sex trade, which massage therapy is clearly not. Defending the credentials in a gentle way has been effective.

  3. Cathy Greene, CMTon 02 Apr 2008 at 5:07 pm

    When someone calls me a masseuse I (take a deep breath first then) calmly and kindly tell them that I am a massage therapist. The public is much more savy, due to all of the attention and popularity of spas, so they pretty much know the correct term to use. I feel that if the spa owners and users as well as the therapists themselves keeps using the term “massage therapist” the public will use it as well and shy away from “masseuse”.

    I also hate, hate, hate the word massage parlor. Both of those words are offensive to me as they bring to mine brothels, prostitution, dirty rooms, drugs, child slavery, negative vibes – need I go on?

    I own and run a small massage supply & gift shop which offers massages as well. So I decided to come up with a plan to avoid all the awkwardness and unpleasantness. When someone enters my shop and they want to know about massages, I hand them a brochure and introduce myself, “Hi I’m Cathy and I’m the massage therapist, if you have any questions please ask.” This will save a lot of time and explanations on why I don’t like to be called a masseuse and no one leaves embarrassed or with the feeling that they were just scolded by their teacher.

  4. patt constantineon 03 Apr 2008 at 12:48 pm

    absolutely. we need to distinguish our licensed legitimate profession from the brothels. i’ve found the interpretation of the “masseuse” to be intertwined with “prostitute” – particularly in the yellow pages — so i correct people immediately. (always strangers, first time clients, people who approach me on instant message or chatrooms). it gives me the opportunity to distinguish that my services are holistic and professional and no inappropriate talk or touching – however minor – will be tolerated. i am easy going and liberal but i have no sense of humor being insulted with sexual inuendo before, during or after a session. i have found that older military veterans associate the word with the services they received in asian countries – and i don’t mean acupuncture or thai massage. i always insert the word licensed before massage therapist; fortunately connecticut required licensure over a decade ago and it helped legitimize and distinguish us from the seedy side of the old nomenclature. when i have to explain the term i emphasize the schooling, testing and continuing education requirements and make very clear that it doesn’t involved a “happy ending.”

  5. pattyon 03 Apr 2008 at 1:12 pm

    good afternoon!i personally choose licensed massage therapist when speaking to people.i live in new york and unfortunately you can turn to the back of many papers and magazines advertising masseus\\\’….we have all worked very hard to gain our license and should be given that respect,we need to educated the public on what our education entails(not just rubbing bodies)in the past ten years of practice i have received a few calls about what kind of massage i do,i always ask the caller where did they get the number and have they received massage therapy in the past for any medical conditions. i will correct a person if they refer to me as a masseus,my reply is that i am proud to be a licensed massage therapist with over 1000 hours of training and ongoing continuing education. we have a wondrful career……much peace, health and happiness……..

  6. Gail Russo, LMBTon 03 Apr 2008 at 1:17 pm

    I prefer to be called “massage therapist.” I believe it is more professional sounding than “masseuse.” Somehow, my gut associates “masseuse” as a negative title and somewhat related to sexual inuendo. I don’t like the term and I do correct current and potential clients by saying that “massage therapist” is my preference. Then they ask, “what’s wrong with “masseuse.” I simply reply, “I am providing therapeutic massage and prefer to be called “massage therapist.” Period the end! :-)

  7. Bob Galloon 03 Apr 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I call myself a masseur, and the women I work with I refer to as masseuses. I feel these titles very appropriate, especially in a field where clients often have gender specific requests for their provider. And yes, I do correct clients who use the “wrong” title in reference to me. I realize there are some individuals who feel that the connotation for masseuse and masseur some how reflects negatively on their practice, but to me that is ridiculous. Car salesman do not always have the most glorious stereotyped reputation, but that does not mean all car salesmen are scoundrels. We are, who we are; nothing more and nothing less.

  8. Myrna Wexleron 03 Apr 2008 at 1:31 pm

    I prefer the term massage therapist, because that is exactly what it is I do–massage THERAPY. There is no confusion about it, no negative connotations. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist in Oregon.

    While I like the French language, the connotations IMPLIED with the use of masseuse and masseur here in the US is far from positive, and the media and general public evidently are not aware of gender specificity.

    I do not generally have to correct/educate my clients because they usually use the same term I do and are aware of what the license says. If they do refer to me as a masseuse, which is not often, I would casually mention later on that I am a licensed massage therapist. They usually get the hint after that.

  9. Marioon 03 Apr 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Hello all and great day to you…I speak fluent french…the two terms that you are referring to does NOT imply what we as therapist do. When a “massage therapist” work, it is on a professional basis, and we are seeking to assist the client/patient to healthier homeostasis…however! When a masseuse, or masseur offer services…they are not seeking to heal…but instead please…look it up! Holy element of surprise…

  10. Rob Flammiaon 03 Apr 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Bob McAtee asks, “What do you call yourself?”

    Given the choices, masseur… Massage therapist/massage therapy is a very charged political issue, in California, at least. The dust has not settled regarding licensing, so there are many ways one can operate and many titles one may call ones self, especially with the option to operate as an Unlicensed Healthcare Professional.

    Sadly overlooked is one of my favorites, Rubber…

    Rev Rob the Russian Rubber

  11. C. Smithon 03 Apr 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Client education about massage therapy is vital. Massage Therapist…not Masseuse. I work in an office…not a room. It’s a table…not a bed. And I don’t “do” anyone…I work on clients.
    Correct terminology projects a level of professionalism and practiced with a smile, adds to easing the mind of a potential or existing client and establishes good working boundaries.

    Cheryl Smith, CMT

  12. John Neumannon 03 Apr 2008 at 3:38 pm

    The term masseuse, rub-down and so on seems to be a never ending subject. As a original german with a lineage of massage therapists and 23 years in this great country working as massage therapist with wife and friend (former students) I must say that if one went to school and earned a Certification after 750 hours (or 500) and is by law -after receiving the license- entitled to be called Massage Therapist. Not only because of the license but also of the work we apply. Most applications or modalities are therapeutic so why not be a Therapist. All the other labels like masseuse and so on refer to a lesser treatment if not illegal for therapists. So try to educate everybody in a light and understandable manner what the difference is. I do it and never had any problems with it, because it doesn’t only show that you stand up for what you do, it also shows pride in what you do. One Client at a time and the world is a more relaxed place to live in.
    love and light

  13. Genevaon 03 Apr 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I don’t mind either term; masseuse or massage therapist. I have no need to get defensiveness if I hear masseuse because usually people mean no harm with the term. They are just ignorant of any other term. On my business cards I have “massage therapist” however if, and when, someone refers to me as a masseuse I take their knowledge or lack of knowledge in consideration. I don’t bristle at the word “masseuse” and I think it’s a beautiful French word. Just because those in the sex field hi-jacked it doesn’t mean I have to ban it from my vocabulary. So either way, masseuse or massage therapist suits me fine.

  14. Justinon 03 Apr 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Yes, most definitely. I understand the misconceptions and why people use terms that aren’t completely accurate, but I call myself a massage therapist, so I believe others should too. I’m in the business of providing a form of therapy, not just some sort of vanity or pleasure service. Not that it isn’t pleasurable and something that could even be considered useful for vanity purposes. People should get massages frequently or more often than just when they want a special treat. It can be used for special treats, but it should also be a part of normal every day life and if it is a part of regular people’s lives, shouldn’t a therapist be the professional to provide it?? I believe what we do is more or should be more than just the ‘fluff and buff’ and what we call ourselves or what others call us should reflect that. When someone gets a massage, I believe they should walk away feeling much better not only physically but about themselves. That’s what therapy does.

    So again, I provide a form of therapy, something very professional, that I feel designates my technical training. I spent a lot of time and money to be ‘technically’ trained to do the many types of massage work that I am capable of performing, so I feel the title is appropriate to that level of training.

    To me it is much like the difference between Native American and Indian. I am Native American and often correct people, in a very nice way mind you, when they erroneously use Indian. There is a difference and even though you may hear us sometimes use the words interchangeably when we speak about ourselves or to each other, it is usually because there is still a small amount of confusion even among ourselves due to the labels that have been forced on us. But clearly one is more accurate and less demeaning.

    If you take a deeper look at the roots of the French words and gain a better understanding of how those words came to be, as well as pay attention to the use and meaning of the words in some countries, you’ll probably find that you won’t want to ever be called anything but a massage therapist too.

  15. Cathy Hess, LMTon 03 Apr 2008 at 8:29 pm

    I prefer massage therapist. I do not always correct those who use the word masseuse, but I will reiterate the term massage therapist. I worked a chair massage event where a floor manager made the statement that I had turned his area into a massage parlor. To say the least, it was demeaning. And unfortunately the word masseuse feels demeaning to me.

  16. Orisa Skipperon 03 Apr 2008 at 8:45 pm

    I know that I studied long hours to understand the body\’s internal environment, the musculoskeletal system, the body\’s communication network, the circulatory system, the respiratory system and so much more. Let\’s not forget to mention the 85 practice sessions that was required in order for the school to say o.k, now your ready for the state\’s 3 hour Massage Therapist licensing exam. The license I have framed and hanging on my wall for my clients to see is something I have earned, and it reads Massage Therapist.

  17. Jeanette Martin, LMTon 03 Apr 2008 at 9:37 pm

    I refer to myself as a massage therapist but have never corrected anyone who used the term masseuse, though I have corrected the health club manager who kept referring to my colleague as the “male masseuse”. Masseuse and masseur are simply old-fashioned words no longer in vogue. Come to think of it, the term in vogue is no longer in vogue…I live and work in New York in a sophisticated, cosmopolitan city. The people using these terms have no desire to insult me, they are simply using terms they are familiar with to mean “one who provides massage”.

  18. Jeanne M. Anderson, LMBTon 03 Apr 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I also prefer Licensed Massage Therapist.  The reasoning is very simple.  I sacrificed, time and money.  I went to a respected accredited certified and licensed school in the United States of America, which states once completing the required hours and passing the state board exam my title is and will be therafter \

  19. M. Viesselmanon 04 Apr 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I assume, since you are a “masseur” that you are not a Certified and Licensed Massage Therapist, If you are a CMT and/or a LMT then you are legally, ethically, and logically, miss identifying yourself, which is a breach of professional ethics. If you are not…go for it. In this country the title you have choosen denotes a lack of credentialling and education…as well as the other less savory conotations.

  20. LMT IDAEL PEREZon 04 Apr 2008 at 1:39 pm

    This topic (Masseur / Masseuse vs Massage Therapist) is very controversial, mainly when here in the United States the culture about Therapeutic Massage is still a crawling baby and the idea that exists out there about a massage is a little bit twisted, probably due to the backgrounds or due to those that wether licensed or not still practice something further than a Therapeutic Massage.

    We, Massage Therapists, have the hard task to educate gently and let people know about the diffrences between one term and the other. It is going to be a long road, but YES we can achieve it.

  21. Barbaraon 04 Apr 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Yes i agree with you and sometime most of the time feel insulted being called a masseuse but like you I do gently and respectfully educated people about the difference between the two.

  22. Mark Leddy L.M.T.on 04 Apr 2008 at 10:33 pm

    I simply Love being called Licensed Massage Therapist. Since 1991 when I received my license not a day goes by I am asked “so how long have you been a masseuse” after all these years now I laugh and say I have never been nor do I ever want to be a masseuse and they look at me confused and say “dont you have to be to do this job” and I correct them saying well you just called me a woman who does massage and we laugh. I am a License Massage Therapist (I love the letters after my name). To use the term masseuse and masseur are foreign terms that we should simply not use. Yes the public doesnt know and as a professional I correct them.

  23. Bob McAteeon 06 Apr 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Rob, Thanks for adding your two cents. Colorado College used to have a renowned “rubber” (in the 60′s, I think) and I’m sorry I never had a chance to meet or learn from him. I’ve heard a few stories about his work with the athletes there.

    If you decide to use the UHP designation, would that be pronounced “oop”?


  24. Bob McAteeon 06 Apr 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Cheryl,
    I don’t “do” anyone either and usually correct clients when they refer to the table as a bed.

    In England they call the table a “couch”, which I don’t care for either, but adapt when I’m there.

    Thanks for your comments.

  25. Bobon 07 Apr 2008 at 11:12 am

    Don’t you find it a little bit strange that it is only in the US that masseuse and masseur titles carry a negative connotation? I beleive this connotation is nothing more than misguided marketing by groups such as the AMTA to imply that those of us who do massage are something that we are truly not. Massage is an art…a great art, but it is not rocket science. And I say this as a licensed masseur with over 20 years of experience.

  26. patt constantineon 07 Apr 2008 at 2:50 pm

    the AMTA isn’t marketing the negative connotation of masseuse; (and i don’t belong to them so i have no bias.)

    —–they are encouraging people to replace nebulous jargon — a word that has come to mean two drastically different “services” and legitmize and distinguish the educated skilled professionally licensed therapist from the “masseuse” at “pussycat escort service”.

    it’s an issue in the united states because we practice western medicine and the title here has overlapped with the prostitution community in the orient (not sweden, not germany, not france, not russia). my father in law was a marine colonel with a PhD; when i announced that i was going to school back in 1992 to be a massage therapist (after i already had a bachelors degree in a “respected” profession) — he freaked out and asked me if i didn’t understand what people would think of me. i was highly insulted and thought him to be very ignorant for a man with a doctorate in education and wife who was head of IV therapy at the local hospital. however, his experience with a masseuse came from a stay overseas in japan and involved the offer to end with sex and HE needed to be re-educated. i said = i’m studying to become a licensed therapeutic massage professional – not a hooker!

  27. Justinon 07 Apr 2008 at 4:00 pm

    This is a direct quote from someone that speaks the language the words come from… perhaps the best point ever for the difference between the different titles… It isn’t about the US or western medicine… it is about the words themselves…

    [quote]I speak fluent french…the two terms that you are referring to does NOT imply what we as therapist do. ….. When a masseuse, or masseur offer services…they are not seeking to heal…but instead please…look it up! Holy element of surprise…

    Those of you who persist in NOT calling yourself a therapist, or maybe acting like a therapist, have you ever looked at what the word actually means…? As Mario here has suggested… It is re–education that we are NOT what the word masseuses or masseurs mean… we are not french hookers or any other type of prositute from any other country… we ARE THERAPISTS or at least we should be.

    I would think that we are all working to make the world a better place, one body at a time as Massage Therapists!

    Justin Taylor

  28. Justinon 07 Apr 2008 at 4:03 pm

    This is a direct quote from someone that speaks the language the words come from… perhaps the best point ever for the difference between the different titles… It isn’t about the US or western medicine… it is about the words themselves…

    [quote]I speak fluent french…the two terms that you are referring to does NOT imply what we as therapist do. ….. When a masseuse, or masseur offer services…they are not seeking to heal…but instead please…look it up! Holy element of surprise…

    Those of you who persist in NOT calling yourself a therapist, or maybe acting like a therapist, have you ever looked at what the word actually means…? As Mario here has suggested… It is re–education that we are NOT what the word masseuses or masseurs mean… we are not french hookers or any other type of prositute from any other country… we ARE THERAPISTS or at least we should be.

    I would think that we are all working to make the world a better place, one body at a time as Massage Therapists!

    Justin Taylor

  29. Bob Galloon 07 Apr 2008 at 5:50 pm

    As a French speaking American, it appears to me that you obviously have no idea
    what you are talking about. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a
    masseur is a male who practices massages and a masseuse is a female who
    practices massage. And those are quotes. Check it out if you do not believe me.
    Get your mind out of the gutter. You are what you are, irrespective of your
    title. The title of therpaist means nothing. Food is therapy, conversation
    also is, etc. Anything can be therapy…even sex. It’s a meaningless title.
    And why the need to add “licensed” to the title? Does your doctor advertise as
    a licensed doctor?
    Bob, a professional licensed experienced (20+ years) masseur.

  30. Charlotte Hooten. LMTon 07 Apr 2008 at 10:30 pm

    i am a licensed massage therapist and very proud to be. i have on occasion “kindly” corrected clients as to that fact. i explain to them that massage therapists and the massage field has a lot of educating to do and we are trying to accomplish that task. we have got a long road to go to accomplish this but we will do it. i spent 10 long, arduous months in school to pass that 4 hour test to become a LMT and i am very proud of it and will always “kindly” correct misconceptions about masseuse and licensed massage therapist. yes, my doctor advertises that he is a MD with his license number listed, so that indicates that he is licensed.

  31. Adamson 08 Apr 2008 at 1:49 pm

    The doubt seems to be in the mind of those in the profession. I’ve called myself a Masseur since 1993 when I became licensed. At that time many of the public did not know what an LMT was. When i get called a Masseuse I just laugh and tell them that I am plumbed wrong to qualify.
    We will be accepted as a profession by whatever name we prefer to be called when we think of ourselves as professionals and demonstrate the same by the way we act towards each other and the public, and by the way we charge for our services. I never worry so much about what I’m called only that I am called. Thankyou.

  32. Bob Galloon 08 Apr 2008 at 5:10 pm

    I couldn’t have said it better, and I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts. And if I may add an additional comment. In Connecticut, just about every imaginable career path is licensed including teachers, plumbers, physicians, paramedics, etc. Yet no one I know of in these careers feels the needs to reference his license. I prefer to employ the KISS principle…Keep It Simple Stupid. I’m a masseur. two syllables, and easily understood. Those that need an alphabet after their need to get a life.
    Bob Gallo
    BA, MBA, LTUSN, LMT, AFO, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten.

  33. Justinon 08 Apr 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I agree with you on the licensing thing… first off a license is just a tax anyway… they don’t make people honest or give them integrity or make them better at what they do in anyway… they aren’t a gauge of success either. They are simply a tax on our ability to make a living… that is obviously another topic altogether…

    But clearly, when it comes to the name thing… I disagree. I do therapy as do many of the other people that have posted here. Anyone can give a decent ‘fluff and buff’ or give me a rub down… but that’s not therapy. It may have therapeutic effects, but still not therapy… (simply talking and listening can have therapeutic effects, but that doesn’t make me a psychotherapist). So for those that ONLY want to be a masseuse or masseur, all the more power to you. But those of us who have taken upon ourselves the next step and believe ourselves to be true healing professionals, we choose to call ourselves Massage Therapists… and no, we don’t have to use the term ‘licensed’ either… “Just I am a massage therapist and here’s why….”

    I find people often end up pointing out the difference to me before I even finish explaining it, they understand that it is great to feel good to treat themselves to a great massage. But massage is about a lifestyle choice, a chance to truly work with a person long term to help them grow and achieve better health, that is what therapy is all about.

    How can we ever expect the public to understand the difference and accept us as healing professionals, when we ourselves can’t even agree on what it means or what the differences really are…??

  34. amk, LMTon 10 Apr 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I worked very hard in the 18 months in massage school and after to pass the Ohio State Medical Board. Because I did so, I have a medical license in the state of Ohio. I also have a tax id which I need here to collect sales tax for those w/o a written prescription for massage.

    My license indicates that I am a Massage Therapist, and yes…I too correct (gently) the term masseuse. That may a term the French use, but I live in the US and I am licensed and also a massage therapist. Therefore, I take offense to anything else.

  35. Adamson 15 Apr 2008 at 7:57 pm

    No one can offend us without our cooperation. To often we look to the external for justification or compelement when it is only our reflexion of our inner selves. When we find something offends us, we need to look internally to see why. Yes there are offensive things out there, but we take on way more than we need to and it is reflected in our lives and our happiness.

  36. Crystal LMTon 15 Apr 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’m happy to see other LMT’s in the State of Ohio that correct clients on the word “masseuse”. The term “masseuse” was hammered into mine and other students in school on the negative stereotypes that were afflicted with “masseuse”. Also, why lower my credentials from having a Medical License to “nothing”?

    I’ve also had many clients tell me that massage school couldn’t be that hard. I tell them that I’ve spent 5 semesters learning Anatomy and Physiology for massage, versus the 1 semester at KSU for Nursing. I also let all my clients know that in order for us to call it “massage therapy” or as a “massage therapist”, that we have to be licensed by the OMB (Ohio State Medical Board).

  37. Bobon 16 Apr 2008 at 5:52 am

    In response to a reply to my comment from M. Viellelman:

    M. Viesselman reply on April 4, 2008:

    I assume, since you are a “masseur” that you are not a Certified and Licensed Massage Therapist, If you are a CMT and/or a LMT then you are legally, ethically, and logically, miss identifying yourself, which is a breach of professional ethics. If you are not…go for it. In this country the title you have choosen denotes a lack of credentialling and education…as well as the other less savory conotations.

    Your assumptions are totally incorrect. I am a fully licensed masseur and fully certified in a number of modalities. In my licensing state I am in no way legally, ethically, or logically misidentifying myself nor am I breaching any professional ethics (nor are the licensed masseuses I work with). It’s amazing how you feel qualified to speak for “this country” when in fact you are quite ignorant about the subject.

  38. Kathyon 17 Apr 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Bob,

    I call myself a massage therapist since that is what I was trained to call myself through schooling. I have been called a masseuse by several people, but for the most part I’m not offended. In general, from my experience, people are just asking questions or making general comments. In any conversation, I just call myself a massage therapist. People usually pick it up and correct themselves or ask me why I don’t use the word massuese. When asked I let them know it’s not offensive to me, but it tends to carry a negative connotation. (Which, BTW, I have not really personally experienced; it’s something I was “taught” in school.)

    I get more offended by friends who, dispite my title and professional demeanor, make sexual remarks and comments to me or others in my presence about the my line of work.

  39. JELENAon 22 Apr 2008 at 6:10 am

    Hello Patt!
    Are you Patricia Constantine Patt ??? ???
    61 Sharon ln
    Wethersfield CT 06109
    (spring st) ???
    I am Jelena from Yugoslavia-Serbia (2002 in USA).
    Remember me?
    Please give me your E-mail or write me.
    J want to renew contact with you.

  40. Paul Brownon 22 Apr 2008 at 4:50 pm

    I call myself massage therapist when people ask what I do for a living. I do not mind being called masseur, because although it originated in the French language, it is an English word now, too. I do correct people with humor when they say masseuse, though.

    My diplomas and certificates all say Massage Therapist on them, so that is what I call my profession, but I do not take offense as the word masseur. I do correct people when they inject sexual innuendo into what I do, but even this is done with kindness.

    I understand why (mostly women) take offense at masseuse, as it does bring up the seedy history of massage in the United States to many, but if we act with compassion, kindness, and a liberal dose of humor, we can re-claim that word from its sexual overtone.

    It’s only a word. More important is how we behave.

  41. Davidon 24 May 2008 at 3:32 am


    Times have changed – in the state in which I am professionally-licensed and in the city and county in which I am business-licensed, we can only refer to ourselves as “licensed massage therapists” – this is stated clearly in the law to reflect our scope of practice. If we refer to ourselves in any other way, we are breaking law. If the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork were to audit or investigate its certificant (for which MTs are increasingly required to hold in most professionally regulated jurisdictions across the country), and the certificant were found to be using other than the prescribed “NCTMB” or “NCTM” title, to which the certificant agrees to use by default of certification, then the certificant is in violation of the NCBTMB’s Standards of Practice, which is subject to consequences outlined to include up to suspension or revocation of credential.
    Technically, the term masseuse or masseur is less used these days because it lacks focus and specific connotation for a scope that needs to be defined in an ever-growing and -diversifying CAM industry, of which massage therapy is a part.
    Your term is not wrong if the jurisdiction in which you are licensed allows it specifically in the code written for standards of practice, which is written into all professionally-related business license law.

  42. Robinon 18 Jun 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Very well said Cheryl………’table’….’bed’…..’do’……’work’………it makes a difference, particularly in regards to the kind of clients you wish to attract. Even in this time in history, as therapists, we deal with the stigma of decades gone by. What a shame for such a wonderful and healing modality. We certainly have our work cut out for us.

  43. CDBAon 26 Jun 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I also am a licensed massage therapist. I like to include body work along with massage. Recently I helped cleanup a flood damaged basement. I took my massage chair. I did not offer the crew a massage; I offered to do some “work” on their shoulders and backs of those who are doing some heavy work lifting and hammering. The muscles and minds respond much better to ” some muscle work” than a massage in this instance. So am I a bodyworkist or a bod worker or a bodyseuse?

  44. Ron S.on 24 Sep 2008 at 10:15 pm

    People we are making this a big deal,what is important is the task at hand,and to take what we’ve learned and practice with good intent. We feel good about making feel better to the best of our abilities and that’s why we do what we do!RS

  45. Justinon 24 Sep 2008 at 11:50 pm

    You are correct, it shouldn’t be such a big deal, but in some people’s eyes a name really is a big deal. For me it I was trained as a therapist, not someone that just helps you feel good. But I believe the biggest reason for the change, outside of the shady characters that have tarnished the terms of masseur or masseuse is the gender issue. We want to be politically correct and not assign gender… massage therapist has no gender bias, but masseur or masseuse are both gender specific. Talk to a sanitation engineers who used to be a garbage man or women and they might agree with the political correctness or a secretaries that is now a receptionist or personal assistant. I know people who get furious if you call them a secretary… even though it is what they do….

    What you call yourself really has no true bearing on whether you know what you are doing or even what you will do when someone hires you. Just like having a license doesn’t mean you are any good at it or that you are going to be ethical about it or anything else… It’s just a piece of paper that you pay money for… What it means in massage therapy is that at one point probably due to some sort of training, you knew enough to pass a test and then you have paid the money to the State or locality for the privilege of being able to make a living.

    Just as people get bent out of shape about the name you call them or what that name actually means, people get bent out of shape thinking that having a license actually means something and it makes a difference in how you will perform…

    Sorry to say, it doesn’t… it is your training and how well you apply that training that matters most… not what you are called or whether you have a license or not…

  46. Ron S.on 26 Sep 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Justin that was perfect!good job!

  47. Justinon 26 Sep 2008 at 6:33 pm

    In Ohio, I completely understand why you tell people that you are licensed. In fact, isn’t it required by Ohio law that you state you are an LMT or that you are licensed.?? Plus just like Dr.’s don’t you also have to post that license on the wall…??

    I know there are a couple of states that require you to state that you are an LMT or licensed or they have some specific way that you must state your title. (too bad we live in a world where legislators not only find it necessary to do such things, but actually have some kind of need to do so…)

  48. TheEebsteron 12 Oct 2008 at 11:26 am

    I like the term massage Therapist as well. I kind of thought that Masseuse was french, but never knew that it was a negative thing. I’m going to try to get my license, but I’ll have to go to school first. Even though I’m in my senior year of High school I know that many professions should have professional titles. I respect that as well.

  49. Anneon 12 Oct 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Idael, do agree with your comment, I have been trying to educate my clients for over 5 years, some of them still call me masseus, but correct them telling them that I am his/her massage therapist and I will help the today, at least the title stays in their mind.

  50. Idaelon 12 Oct 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Bob and Adams, I see that a name to you does not mean too much, and I do undertand now why it does not matter too much.

    I graduated in 2006, where the only Professional title I heard was Massage Therapist, obviously you guys got your studies when the words Masseurs and Masseus were in fashion. It is not easy to change your name overnight, mainly when you have lived with it for more than five years.

    I personally notice the difference between a Masseurs and a Massage Therapist, at least I know that a Massage Therapist go deeper in knowledge about human anatomy, diseases, pathology, body systems, medical terminology, etc, remember, more than a massage agent we are therapists, because we understand the body functions. I would not allow myself being called masseurs!!!

    I bet you guys have a bunch of CEU’s and your kowledge in vast, we all know common modalities, you guys feel happy being called masseurs, I feel comfortable being called Massage Therapist, it is not going to change your amount of knoledge nor mine, so let’s just give a professional image, let’s treat clients/patients the way they deserve and they will decide what to call us.

    Thanks once again for reading my comment
    LMT, CMMP Idael Perez
    President of Awakening Hands, LLC

  51. ericon 17 Nov 2008 at 12:56 am

    i am new to all of this
    i just recieved my 700 hours certification and i would like some pointers of how to get started with buisness
    i also would like some info on how hard it will be to be a succses financially given that i am a man and is the difference huge
    and at the rate thate it is a factor what is a good way of working with this factor
    should i offer recorded sessions to heighten security?
    just somthing ithought about i dont know
    but i do need some please can some one tell me the best way to get started
    …….oh yhe and on the subject i think therapist suggest much better conintation and bouderies and intentions as a professional versus anything else!!

  52. Rebecca Kettmannon 19 Dec 2008 at 3:47 pm

    If you are a therapist practicing in the state of Georgia then you need to do a search on Georgia code section 16-6-17. According to it, a masseur or a masseuse can pertain to anyone who practices massage. Also, read the definition of a massage therapist. The only thing that makes massage unlawful in this state is if it is used for lewd purposes such as prostitution, assignation, or masturbation for hire. I am a masseuse and a licensed massage therapists with over 7 years of experience and this is stated according to georgia state law. If you are in another state and haven’t checked out your State Code in awhile, you may want to.

  53. Rebecca Kettmannon 19 Dec 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Also, in the state of Georgia if you practice massage therapy without a state license, you are violating state law. You will find a conclusion to all this jibberish, by doing research of your State Code. All states are different by code and by laws. Do your research.

  54. Rebecca Kettmannon 19 Dec 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Eric,

    The more experience and knowledge you have, the more sucessful you will be running your business. In today’s economy, people don’t want to spend money period, let alone on themselves. So as professional and licensed massage therapists, we should strive to educate out clients to see massage not just a “luxury” but a necessity. Although being a business owner can make you money, it can also make you bankrupt when building your clientele. As a business owner, it has taken me about 2 years for me to actually get a pay check! I think it is very important to broaden your horizons and not limit yourself. Your being sucessful all depends on your thought process, motivation, knowledge and communication skills. Confidentially with a client is extremely important. I’m not sure what you mean by offering recording sessions to heighten security but if it’s what I’m thinking, i’m sure it’s against the law. It would be like putting a camera in a bathroom or clothing area to heighten security. Which would then be violating that person’s privacy. You can do a search online for your state code to find out what your laws are for a massage pratitioner. Good Luck!!! :)

  55. Rebecca Kettmannon 19 Dec 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Bob McAtee, got to love you! YOu crack me up! But there is fact in what you say. so sincerly, thank you for your two cents. :)

  56. Jayon 12 Apr 2009 at 2:48 pm

    When I lived in PA I always used Massage Therapist. But, as soon as I moved across the border into Ohio I could no longer use the word therapist or therapy in my advertising. Because I didn’t have a license in Ohio, and PA did not have licensing for massage.

    I could have had a dozen certifications for various modalities but without a license I can’t use the word therapy or therapist.

    So this has been an issue for me for a long time. I often say to people “I help people recover from pain caused by stress.” and then if they ask for more info I tell them that I use massage and other holistic techniques, etc.

    I’ll sometimes say that I do relaxation massage or stress relief massage. But, again I can’t say that I do therapeutic massage without a license here.

  57. nickon 23 Aug 2009 at 4:19 pm

    In a scene from one of the austin powers movies they bring him (austin) out of frozen sleep to deal with Dr. evil.

    When they were on the plane austin say’ BRING ON THE SEXY STEWS (stewardesses). He is quickly told by one of the older ladies; Sir we are no longer called stewardesses we are now FLIGHT ATTENDANTS. Austins’ response to this is ” OH, IS THAT LIKE.. I”M A SEX WORKER… NOT A WHORE!!!!

    My example here is to say this no matter what you call it
    or yourself, we must change the publics view of the word
    as it applies to the CRAFT or ART which ever you prefer.

    I myself have been massaging for over 20yrs and not once
    have i had to defend MY ART because of the terminology.

    If you massage as a man you are MASSEUR women are MASSEUSE. Now if you are licensed by the state then you are a masseuse or masseur and a licensed Massage Therapist.

    Therapist do the work for both medical treatment & healing purposes.

    Masseur/Masseuse do the work for mental & physical relaxation, stress & ailment relief, stimulation of the body’s various systems.

    If you are providing medical treatment to clients then you must be licensed to do so, all medical treatment related professions are required to be licensed.

    With that being said i have been to both a masseuse and a licensed massage therapist they had different approaches to my feet after my surgery. The therapist only concentrated on the area where i had the operation and she was real rough in handling the foot. The masseuse on the other hand asked
    how i would like to proceed because of the injury, I explained
    the injury and what surgery had been performed.

    We agreed that she would go on as normal but if i had a problem with anything to let her know the instant i had any discomfort what so ever. the therapist didn’t care as much
    she said that i would get over the pain over time and that i must deal with it it happens to everyone who has this type of
    surgery. That made me think hard about returning to her after that. I know she doesn’t represent all LMT out there but, what kind of message is she sending her clients out there with
    they have gotten the impression that LMTs are torturers.

    I am not a LMT and nor do i intend to apply for such. I don’t
    treat anything, i relax, revitalize, and energize my clientele
    with the skills i studied while station and traveling around the world from the MASTERS whom learned the ART from their
    elders as a way to never have to go hungry or work as geshia

    Massage to me is like the Martial Arts although they may differ
    on a lot of styles, beliefs and practices, they all use basically the same tools for the practitioner to excel at it…. Punching, kicking, blocking, grappling, throwing and BRAINS.

    We can learn as much as we want and use even less if we choose to do so KNOWLEDGE is the key not the license.

    Please excuse the long comment, but if you truly are a professional person then the name MASSEUSE or MASSEUR should not affect you nor your customers and clients opinions
    of the ART and that of your business.

    The police, doctors, lawyers, nurses, senators, congressmen and other professions that have a bad rap with the public have not denounced their CRAFT name, then why should you.

  58. Staceyon 18 Dec 2009 at 12:17 pm

    It’s not only in US that it carries negative connotations. Canada also has it. That’s why we get Registered as Massage Therapists. We don’t have “College of Masseurs/Masseuse”…it’s College of Massage Therapists.

  59. Ericon 08 May 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Not to use the correct title of Massuese or Masseur – How USA is that to think that by destroying the English language ( with its french connection dating back to 1066) is actually educating people.
    Strange people

  60. Janeon 02 Jun 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Me too I prefer to be call Massage Therapist and I have a license! I remembered this man told me that i’m masseuse and then i was upset and I said to him” excuse me Sir don’t call me that word”, then I corrected him ” I’m a massage therapist”. I was searching on the job site earlier, and there’s a Spa needs a Masseuse then they’re looking for an experienced Massage Therapist and have a state of license- so before I submit my resume I have to make sure that they’re not gonna offer some sexual thing, then there website is under construction, when I looked at the yahoo local- they’re no written about escort services, just Day spas, maybe this owner is a french… Should I submit my resume to them and let me see if they’re gonna call me to have an interview.

  61. Rajnion 17 Jul 2010 at 2:31 am

    It makes me angry when I hear people use the term massuese and the massage table a bed. Please stop!!! People that do massage are Massage Thearapist, they use a massage table!! Okay! Thanks!

  62. Bernard Scullyon 06 Jan 2011 at 2:04 am

    Good morning; I am a massage therapist/ masseur/manual therapist from Australia, with 25 years experience. I am a member of the Australian Association of Massage Therapists and occasional editor of the AHS, the journal of the American Medical Massage Association, (among other things), and I am not so much interested in what to call myself professionally, as maintaining contact with others in my field.
    Is this forum still active ? Are there other therapists out there who want to participate in sensible conversation about our great profession and some of the problems that exist within it ?

  63. Bob McAteeon 06 Jan 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Hello Bernard,
    Thanks for your comment on my blog post. Although many have commented on the topic, this is not really a forum for wider discussion of our profession. I belong to a few e-mail discussion groups that sometimes have useful conversations. Please let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you the links.

  64. JDon 12 Dec 2011 at 3:09 pm

    I am not a massage therapist, I am a customer. As someone who has chronic back issues AND a very hectic travel schedule, I have had to arrange massage therapy in many different cities/countries. Having no desire to inadvertantly end up in the wrong sort of place, I appreciate when people in your profession make clear that you are licensed massage therapists! I know it’s not fair or accurate to infer that a “masseuse” is providing sexual services, but I also know that seeking out and booking a Licensed Massage Therapist removes any doubt about misaligning what this particular customer is seeking. Keep up the great work – every LMT I’ve booked with has provided a great service that keeps me able to stay productive; you should be proud of your accreditation and your profession.

  65. Daddioon 03 Mar 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I can not believe hot snooty and politically correct, as well as easily influenced most of you are. There is nothing wrong with the terms Masseur or Masseuse. Masseur is the male gender version of the word, and is nothing more. It simply describes and is defined as, “a man who practices massage. Masseuse is the female gender of the same word, and is , “a woman who practices massage.” Before you continue with your snooty response, let me set the record straight. A doctor practices medicine. It does not mean that youhave not completed your training, and are therefor any less of a masseur or masseuse. It is an accepted term and description, unless you are so insecure that you ascribe to political correctness and can not get past what others may think of you. That is an individual hangup, and does not need to be pushed onto society as a whole. The same goes for the gender of words. That goes back many many generations, and has been acceptable by society up until now, when you allowed yourself to be molded by public opinion and lost your own individuality (and spine). Every single profession through time has had it’s share of “bad practitioners”. Being a masseur/masseuse has nothing to do with prostitution. Once again, that is an individual hangup. If you truly believe that I am less of a professional in the field of massage because I have no hangups about titling myself masseur, think again. I teach those of you who become “massage therapists” and then put their noses so far up in the air that they would drown in a rain storm. You think your title makes you who you have trained to become, but what has really happened is that you’ve allowed an uptight society tell you who you should be, or at least what you should allow yourself to be called. I’m going to call a spade a spade. I am very proudly a masseur, and though my credentials say L.M.T., I am not so hung up by what others think I should be called. Does that rub you the wrong way?

  66. Clark Kent (no relation)on 23 Mar 2012 at 10:03 am

    As someone receiving massages, I like to correct the masseur/masseuse that doesn’t refer to themselves as such. I have never received a massage for healing purposes therefore I find the term “therapist” offensive… Haha actually I don’t find it offensive, but thats my excuse to bring the massage professional off of their high horse. As far as clients that are looking for more than a massage, is it really that difficult to say im not in that line of work?

    As an accountant, more specifically an auditor, I have no problem informing someone that I cannot help them with their taxes. I don’t work with taxes, although thats what many of my friends, family, and strangers assume when I say I’m an accountant. When someone asks me a tax question i simply say “I dont work with taxes” and have never been offended. I knew getting into my profession I would be associated with taxes but i chose the profession anyways, and I cant blame someone for the assumption.

    Now after offending 99% of the massage professionals on this blog, will someone help me with something?

    What is the plural of masseur and masseuse? I want to use the correct terminology when describing the group masseurs and masseuses when i speak of this blog.

  67. Bobon 24 Mar 2012 at 9:32 am

    I believe the correct plural for masseur is “masseurs” and the plural for masseuse is “masseuses”.

  68. Chelseaon 11 Jun 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Seriously? Why do all of these quasi healers semi spiritual people usually known for being non judgmental… what they are called? Who cares what you are called if you know what you are.

    You make the word have a negative stigma by telling everyone it is negative. When you don’t know it’s history it sounds like a very cool name. Let it heal you control freaks that have something to prove.

    Take it.

  69. bondon 29 Aug 2012 at 7:35 am

    First of all, This is the part that infuriates me…I’ve had two years of training, traveling and attended a school for massage therapy. I’ve always been a natural healer and very gifted at what I education isn’t a gift it appears to be a requirement. I chose not to get my license due to my own beliefs. I wanted to be a free spirit and not a cliche. Since I had no intentions ever working for someone else.. I went and purchased my business license and pay taxes every year. I recently made a website explaining the technique I use which is all non licensure i.e esalen. lomi lomi. I get a call from the board of health saying Im not allowed to use the word massage because it belongs to them even though the terminology has been around before you and I were born. This is why, when people act so hung up on names and wghat people call you it just reminds me of that faithless man who thinks he can put a label on a gift that god gave. I’ve known plenty of therapists who have their license and let me tell you what? they shouldn’t have.

  70. Bobon 30 Aug 2012 at 6:29 am

    I totally agree with Bond. I would love to know where he or she practices.

  71. fay yusofon 21 Sep 2012 at 11:20 am

    Daddio is making a lot of sense. Care not what others think who you might be or could do. You know yourself best!

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  74. Anonymus Alon 04 Dec 2012 at 2:32 am


    I understand someone wanting to prevent an assumption that what they provide is illicit or lewd. If these people want to title themselves as Massage Therapists, to show that they have taken specific training, that’s fine with me.

    What I’m not fine with is these same people using that pride to support state licensure dictating that no one else can practice the age-old art of massage.

    I do not want to be a Massage Therapist. I just want to use my natural artistic skills to make people feel good, and the “Licensure Movement” has made people like myself outlaws. This pride to “legitimize” this art is doing far more injustice than an assumption that anyone who provides massage is a prostitute. In New York, unlicensed massage is a felony for God’s sake–now that’s a crime. In other states, fines for daring to perform this art can quite easily bankrupt an individual.

    Licensure does not prevent harm to the public. There are no statistics that prove anymore “harm” has come from non-licensed massage providers than from licensed providers.
    If someone is hurt, by a licensed or unlicensed massage provider, they can sue the provider.

    Prostitution is already illegal.

    Stop mandatory licensure of this ancient artform. Let people decide who they want to hire.

  75. Jacobon 18 Jan 2013 at 12:55 am

    I personally think that in the US the term “Massage Therapist” or “Licensed Massage Therapist” is a respectable term that indicates that someone has been trained and certified in the health field. To me personally the French terms “Masseur” and “Masseuse” do not cut it for me as a health professional as much as it does as a spa worker. Even though I know massage therapists work in a variety of settings, I just feel that the massage industry is trying hard to align itself with both allopathic and complementary medicine in the mainstream and be called a “health profession” more than a “spa profession”. If massage therapists want to be paid by health insurances and be accepted as “healthcare personnel” they will have to do the necessary and stick to a title that is appropriate to the field of healthcare.

  76. Wallyon 26 May 2013 at 10:26 am

    I agree with everyone. I can understand avoiding the parasitic prostition industry’s misuse of the term masseuse. I can also understand the stubbornness to give up those terms because some ill-intending part of our society has abused those terms. I can definitely understand the frustration about the regulation of the profession. Government should govern less and not destroy this particular art.

    However, I believe the one good thing that licensing will do is give us a legitimate excuse to change the way we address professionals in the field of interest. Therefore those in the seedier side of the industry will not be able to use the ruse in the advertisement pages of papers and magazines. Despite this I believe the loss of the art and its passage into a technical practice should be avoided by differentiating the two.

    Regardless, I will endeavor to call you people of the field whatever you wish. I will use massage therapist if I do not know your preference as it seems to offend no one and serve to thwart false advertising.

  77. Lakshmikaanthon 17 Oct 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I was searching Google to find out forgetten words, that I vaguely remember, are used to address Males and Females who does massage. However, it was shocking to find on this website after reading multiple reviews that the terms have now been smeared by profanity! This reminds me of the word “Gay” I have learnt in my childhood (about 30 yrs ago when it is taught and was used to refer the level of happiness!) that I innocently have been using until around 1998 till American English spread into India. Though I was initially shocked to find that the word is now ruined and buried from its actual context, I still use it only to argue with people going down the stream of SMS language.

    Also, people need to understand and agree that words in one language can be profanity in another and this fact should not deter us from using the language.

    Finally I want to conclude that though I want to agree with Bob that we can still use the words, after reading Mario’s explantion I would say you better use Massage Therapist (though it sounds as stupid as not addressing a Driver as driver but calling him “Car/Truck Driving Specialist” because the word Driver is being used as profanity in some country). However, as Geneva said, we need not take it to heart should someone uses these words because more than 90% users of the words use it only because they are there and barely know that they are now profane.

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