Out with the old …

Did you know that AMT reviews and updates the AMT Code of Practice every year?

We need to review the Code annually for a variety of reasons, but the primary one is to keep abreast of legislative changes. You might be surprised at just how many small (and large) pieces of legislation have implications for massage therapists, and how frequently legislation changes. When people claim that massage therapists are completely unregulated, it shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the manifold laws that do apply to the practice of massage therapy in Australia. Awareness raising is the key and it’s one of the aims of the AMT Code to help us raise awareness.

By way of example, in the past year South Australia has introduced a suite of legislative reforms in relation to child protection. So, if you’re a practising massage therapist in South Australia and you are not yet across those changes, you’re overdue to crack open the AMT Code of Practice, turn to the standard on Working with Minors and check on what is now required to make sure you comply. (For the record, we notified South Australian members via email and social media when those changes were due to be implemented).

But apart from ensuring that all the relevant legislative changes are reflected in the AMT Code, this year we undertook to review something that has remained untouched since the first edition of the Code of Practice was released in 2012 – the published definition of massage therapy under the Scope of Practice statement on page 10.

It is quite surprising how old and crusty the standing definition of massage therapy in the Code of Practice had become in just 7 years, with its decidedly singular emphasis on anatomy, manual techniques and particular body tissues. The existing definition failed to encompass any of the whole-person, contextual elements that have always defined our practice yet somehow never made it into our definition. Crazy hunh? We all know and accept that we’re treating people, not just muscles, tendons and ligaments. And we all know that our therapeutic targets go beyond just the soft tissues. Somehow we managed to fall into a Cartesian trap of our own making.

So, it is with great pleasure and excitement that we announce the new definition of massage therapy in the updated AMT Code of Practice. We believe that this definition is more broadly encompassing of the work that massage therapists perform and will give us a solid platform to promote the benefits of massage therapy beyond the circumscribed domain of tissue-based pathology.

The practice of massage therapy is the purposeful, respectful and evidence-informed application of touch, manual techniques and biopsychosocial care. As a client-centred framework it aims to:

• enhance health and wellbeing

• relieve pain

• provide emotional and physical relaxation

• reduce stress and alleviate the impacts of depression and anxiety

• prevent and repair injury

• rehabilitate and augment function.


The beautiful print version of the AMT Code of Practice that you received when it was originally published or when you joined AMT (and which you hopefully have displayed somewhere prominent in your clinic!) is not exactly the same as the current version on the AMT website. The essential elements and requirements in the standards remain substantially unchanged but there will be links to resources and legislation that are now out of date. So, once a year, we strongly encourage and advise you to download and read the updated version of the code to refresh your memory of your ethical and legal obligations, and check for any changes in the laws. This is particularly relevant for standards related to privacy, infection control, WHS, dry needling and working with minors.

You can download the current version of the AMT Code of Practice by clicking on the image below.

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