Massage Therapist

Massage Thersapist

Who practices therapeutic massage in Ontario, Canada?

As with any therapeutic treatment, it is important that the practitioner is a fully qualified professional. With respect to therapeutic massage specifically, in Ontario this means having met the strict competency requirements and training required by the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO). All practitioners of massage therapy must be registered with CMTO to call themselves Registered Massage Therapists (RMT). Therapeutic massage is a regulated health profession (Regulated Health Act 1991).

RMT training takes 2,200 hours, or around 2-3 years. This is amongst the most strict in North America, with only British Columbia requiring more; it is more than twice as long as the strictest requirement in the US. Training is very thorough and consists of: Anatomy, Hydrotherapy, Physiology, Pathology, Histology, Massage Treatment, Massage Theory Terminology, Kinesiology, Remedial Exercises, Ethics & Professionalism, Business Management, Communication Skills, Public Health, Nutrition, Clinical Practice, Self Care for Practitioners, and more.

Registered Massage Therapist Education Programs in Ontario

In order to practice therapeutic massage in Toronto, one needs to first complete the registered massage therapist (RMT) training program. The course must meet competency standards, established by the College of Massage Therapist of Ontario (CMTO). The registered massage program is typically 2 to 3 years in length and all graduates must pass the certification examinations administered by the CMTO in order to practice as a RMT in Ontario and be granted the right to use the protected titles of “Massage Therapist” and “Registered Massage Therapist”.

The following is a list of massage therapy schools in Toronto region that are approved by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities in order to become a Registered Massage Therapist.

How to Find a Massage Therapist

Consumers’ expectations vary when seeking massage treatments. Some people receive massage therapy for medical reasons, such as for rehabilitation after sprains. Some other people receive massage for relaxation or occasional “pampering.” Many others are seeking a combination of the two. It is important to choose the right massage therapist and practice environment for your needs and desires.

The massage industry in Canada and the U.S. is mixed, containing both licensed and unlicensed therapists with a wide variety of training backgrounds and qualifications. Canadian massage licensing is very different from licensing in the U.S. Currently, Ontario and Newfoundland-Labrador require 2,200 hours of training, while British Columbia requires 3,000 hours of training (most states in the U.S. require only about 500 hours of training; New York, which requires 1,000 hours, has the most stringent licensing requirements in the U.S.). Whether you are seeking massage for therapeutic or relaxation purposes, it is essential that you receive proper care from licensed providers. In Ontario, this means seeking care from a registered massage therapist (RMT).

In Ontario, massage therapy is regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act. Only members of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario are permitted to use the title Massage Therapist or Registered Massage Therapist, or the designation of RMT.

Registered massage therapists can be searched online at, a site operated by the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario (RMTAO).

Tips for Finding the Right Massage Therapist and Environment

Ask your friends or co-workers

When looking for a massage therapist, you may want to get some referrals from friends, co-workers, or relatives that have had experience with a particular therapist or practice.

Ask a professional

Another great source for referrals is your doctor or another health care practitioner.

Check the location

If you plan to visit a massage therapist on a regular basis, you may want to find a therapist close to work or home.

Think about practice settings

Massage services are provided in a wide variety of practice settings, including the following:

  • Massage therapy clinic
  • Wellness center
  • Doctor’s office
  • Rehab center/physiotherapy clinic
  • Fitness club
  • Chiropractic clinic
  • Hair salon
  • Spa
  • Hotel/resort
  • Therapist’s own home or apartment

Your massage experience can vary greatly not only with your choice of therapist or modality, but also with your choice of environment. For example, massage therapy at a rehab or physiotherapy clinic can be strictly therapeutic, focusing on just one or two areas of your body. In some rehab or physiotherapy clinics, massage may be provided in the corner of a large training area separated from the main area only by drapes or a small partition. Receiving a massage at a high-end spa can be more relaxing; however, you will likely pay a premium for the comforting environment.

If you are elderly or have a physical disability, it is a good idea to check the accessibility of the facility you are considering. Does the facility have stairs but no elevator? Is it wheelchair-accessible? In some cases, you may want to consider choosing a therapist who does house calls so that you can receive massage therapy in the comfort of your own home without traveling.


Most registered massage clinics and facilities in Ontario follow the RMTAO’s fee guidelines.

As a result, massage therapy fees in Ontario are generally fairly consistent across clinics. Many spas and salons, however, set their own fee schedules for massage services, and these prices can be significantly higher than ordinary massage fees.

Consider also additional costs:

Tax: In Ontario, massage services are subject to HST (13%). Registered massage therapy may become HST-exempt in future, but at this time (January 2011), HST applies to massage services, regardless of whether or not the provider is registered.

Tips: Registered Massage Therapists are the ONLY licensed healthcare practitioners in Ontario that receive tips. Currently, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario does not prohibit its members from accepting tips. Whether and how much to tip is the consumer’s choice. In general, tipping is the norm if you receive registered massage services at a spa, salon, or hotel, while tipping is not customary at medical clinics and therapeutically oriented massage clinics. Some RMTs who consider themselves professional healthcare providers do not accept tips by their own choice.

Insurance Coverage

Massage therapy, when conducted by an RMT, is covered under many extended health plans. A doctor’s note is not always required. Coverage eligibility and requirements vary per policy. Please check with your insurance company.

Therapist Gender and Experience

If you have a preference for a male or female therapist, do not hesitate to ask for whichever you prefer while booking your appointment. At the same time, you can inquire about the therapist’s number of years of hands-on experience in massage therapy. It is impossible to develop mastery and fluency in the art of massage from classroom training alone. Many essential elements of massage can only be learned through years of clinical practice.

He who studies medicine without books sails an uncharted sea, but he who studies medicine without patients does not go to sea at all.’  Sir William Osler

How to Find a Shiatsu Therapist

Shiatsu therapy is not regulated in any province in Canada or the U.S. Virtually anybody can practice shiatsu or call him- or herself a shiatsu therapist.

Since shiatsu is not regulated in Ontario, it is usually not covered by insurance, unless the therapy is performed by a RMT.

Training courses for shiatsu can vary from several weekend workshops to over 2,200 hours of schooling (a three-year academic equivalent). Only those who have undertaken 2,200 hours of training are eligible for membership in the Shiatsu Therapy Association of Ontario (STAO). Other associations accept members with fewer hours of training. A fully qualified shiatsu therapist holds the designation Certified Shiatsu Therapist (CST) or Dipl. Shiatsu. (Note: not all fully qualified shiatsu therapists join the Association.)

Since shiatsu is not regulated in Ontario, it is usually not covered by insurance, unless the shiatsu therapy is performed by a registered massage therapist. A small group of RMTs are dually trained and qualified in both massage and shiatsu.

How to Find a Reflexologist

Reflexology is not regulated in any province in Canada or the U.S. Virtually anybody can practice reflexology or call him- or herself a reflexologist.

Certified members of the Ontario College of Reflexology are entitled to use the designation CR (Certified Reflexologist).

Certified reflexologists can be found here:

Since reflexology is not regulated in Ontario, it is usually not covered by insurance, unless the reflexology is performed by a registered massage therapist. Some RMTs are dually trained and qualified in both massage and reflexology.