This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation regarding the licensing of professional massage therapists and defining what level of education and/or national testing they need in order to practice. While the rules for certification and licensing vary widely from state to state, many states require massage therapists to complete at least 600 hours of classroom instruction in massage therapy or be certified by passing an exam given by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCTBMB) in McLean, Virginia.
Ask friends and trusted health-care practitioners for referrals and recommendations. Before you make an appointment with a therapist, find out whether he/she is nationally certified and also a member of the American Massage Therapy Association (http://www.amtamassage.org/) (AMTA), located in Evanston, Illinois. Ask about what kind of training the therapist has had and whether he/she specializes in a particular kind of massage.
Remember, when you do go for an appointment, you should feel comfortable. If you don't like the personality or mannerisms of the therapist, find someone else with whom you feel more relaxed.
You may also want to learn how to do massage yourself or teach a friend or family member how to do therapeutic massage on you. There are dozens of books and video tapes on massage that can guide you. In most communities, you can also find classes in massage techniques at a community or adult education center.