Ms Hettie Mercer-Ricketts, the Chief Executive Officer of Spa Body N Beyond, said the massage therapy and wellness industry in the country is evolving to support the health system and must be regulated.
She said Ghana should begin to discuss integration of the massage therapy into the healthcare industry adding; "We must, therefore, work to effectively integrate into the national health sector the state licensing requirement and immediately develop mechanisms to regulate practitioners."
"As massage therapists, our job is to cater to the physical, emotional, psychological and wellness needs of the clients," Ms Mercer-Ricketts stated at the graduation of the third batch of students of the Spa Body N Beyond in Accra.
It was chaired by Mrs Mawusi Awity, the Executive Director of the National Vocational Training Institute.
Ms Mercer-Ricketts said years ago, the massage industry was not regulated at all, not even in America.
"With the formation of the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (FSMTB) in 2005 and the establishment of the 'MBLEx' massage licensing exam, things have changed considerably."
She said it was, therefore, time for Ghana to begin to regulate the industry by requiring professionals to take the examination and acquire the Massage Licensing Certificate before being allowed to practice.
"With more and more people getting involved in the profession, it's estimated that it will become increasingly accepted as a useful complementary health modality by mainstreaming medical practitioners. Therefore, the urgent need for the country to set the ground rules for practitioners,'' she said.
Ms Mercer-Ricketts noted that years ago, mainstream medical practitioners in America were suspicious of massage.
Some of them considered it harmless at best, while others lumped it together with other alternative modalities such as chiropractic treatment and nothing more than a waste of their patients' time and money.
"However, in recent years, this has changed dramatically. One of the reasons for the change is the number of Americans who have begun to broach the topic of massage with their doctor or a healthcare practitioner."
She said Ghana could begin to learn from the jurisdictions of the other countries, especially as both massage therapists and clients wanted to see the treatment further integrated into the healthcare system as people were increasingly becoming interested in preventative healthcare.
Ms Mercer-Ricketts warned practitioners that every client was different with different injuries such as sports related, chronic pain, injury from car accidents or simply to de-stress.
"The average client doesn't want to receive the exact same massage that everyone else gets when they come into your office. With this in mind, you should expect some clients to come to you with a generalised desire to simply "feel better" and "take care of themselves".