The Law on Body Rubs in Texas

Man having massage in the spa salon
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The term "body rub" refers to massage therapy under Texas law. To give body rubs in Texas professionally, you must be licensed. This means completing at least 500 hours of coursework and passing a background check. If you perform this service without a license, you can be convicted of a misdemeanor, or you may face a felony charge and jail time if you're a repeat offender. Massages can be done by hand or with massage equipment. They can include such actions as stroking and kneading, and the use of oils, hot or cold packs, heat lamps, tubs and showers.

Massage Therapists Require License

Before you can work as a massage therapist in Texas, you must obtain a license. A license is also required if you want to teach massage therapy, operate a massage school or operate a massage establishment. Generally, you are exempt from this requirement if you're a licensed chiropractor, physician, occupational therapist, nurse, physical therapist, cosmetologist or athletic trainer. However, you are ineligible for a license if you have been convicted of prostitution or other sexual offenses. If you plead no contest to, or receive a deferred judgment for, a charge of giving massages without a license, you will be ineligible to obtain one.

Training Required for License

To perform body rubs, you must successfully complete at least 500 hours of supervised instruction in massage therapy from a licensed massage instructor, licensed massage school or state-approved educational institution. Your coursework will include such topics as Swedish massage techniques, anatomy, kinesiology and hydrotherapy. You will also be instructed in the state's laws and rules as well as health, hygiene, CPR and first aid. You must also participate in an internship program and pass the state written exam.

License Application Requires Background Check

To obtain your massage license, submit an application and fee to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Once received, DSHS will conduct a criminal background check. If you've been convicted of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a felony in the past five years, your application will be denied. According to the Office of the Texas Attorney General, moral turpitude means behavior so removed from "ordinary standards of honesty, good morals, justice or ethics as to be shocking to the moral sense of the community." It is defined as a vile, depraved, morally reprehensible act. Common examples include forgery, rape and robbery.

Cannot Participate in Prohibited Activities

Once licensed, you cannot perform massage therapy at a sexually oriented business, whether you are paid for your services or not. Such businesses are geared toward customer sexual stimulation or gratification, such as sex parlors and adult bookstores. If your business is sexually oriented, you cannot use the terms "massage" or "bath" in signage or advertising. You could be fined and your license suspended, revoked, refused or not renewed. Other license violations include obtaining a license by fraud or misrepresentation and endangering the health, welfare and safety of public.

Practicing Without License Is a Misdemeanor

If you perform massage therapy without a license and get paid for it, you could be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor and sentenced to up to 180 days in jail, fined up to $2,000, or both. If you've done it before, it's a Class A misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail, a fine up to $4,000 or both. Three or more times and it's a state jail felony, which carries between 180 days and two years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

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