Massage Therapist vs. Masseuse

What's the Difference?

A massage therapist and a masseuse are both professionals who provide massage therapy services, but there are some key differences between the two. A massage therapist is a licensed healthcare professional who has completed extensive training and education in anatomy, physiology, and various massage techniques. They often work in healthcare settings such as hospitals, clinics, or rehabilitation centers, and their focus is on promoting overall health and wellness. On the other hand, a masseuse is a term commonly used to refer to someone who provides massages for relaxation and stress relief. While they may have some training in massage techniques, they are not necessarily licensed or regulated by any governing body. It is important to note that the term "masseuse" is considered outdated and can be seen as derogatory, as it has been associated with the sex industry.


AttributeMassage TherapistMasseuse
Education and TrainingExtensive training and certificationVaries, may have less formal training
Scope of PracticeCan provide therapeutic and rehabilitative massagesPrimarily focuses on relaxation massages
Medical KnowledgeMay have knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and pathologyMay have limited medical knowledge
ClienteleServes a diverse range of clients, including athletes and individuals with medical conditionsTypically serves clients seeking relaxation and stress relief
Professional AssociationsMay be members of professional organizations such as AMTA or ABMPMay or may not be members of professional associations
Code of EthicsAdheres to a professional code of ethicsMay or may not adhere to a professional code of ethics
Insurance CoverageMay accept insurance for certain treatmentsUsually does not accept insurance

Further Detail


Massage therapy has become increasingly popular in recent years as people recognize the numerous benefits it offers for both physical and mental well-being. When seeking a massage, you may come across two terms: massage therapist and masseuse. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the attributes of massage therapists and masseuses, highlighting their training, skills, and professional standards.

Training and Education

One of the primary distinctions between massage therapists and masseuses lies in their training and education. Massage therapists typically undergo extensive formal education and training programs. They often complete a diploma or degree program in massage therapy, which includes coursework in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and various massage techniques. Additionally, they may be required to complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours to gain hands-on experience.

In contrast, masseuses may not have formal education or training in massage therapy. While some may have received informal training or learned through experience, many masseuses may not possess the same level of knowledge and expertise as massage therapists. It is important to note that the term "masseuse" is often associated with individuals who provide sensual or erotic massages, which further emphasizes the distinction between the two.

Scope of Practice

The scope of practice for massage therapists and masseuses also differs. Massage therapists are trained to provide therapeutic massages aimed at addressing specific health concerns or promoting overall wellness. They are knowledgeable about different massage techniques and can tailor their treatments to meet the individual needs of their clients. Massage therapists may work in various settings, including spas, wellness centers, hospitals, and sports clinics.

Masseuses, on the other hand, often focus on providing relaxation massages. Their primary goal is to help clients unwind and relieve stress. While relaxation massages can have some therapeutic benefits, masseuses typically do not have the same level of expertise in addressing specific health conditions or injuries. Masseuses are commonly found in spas, resorts, and beauty salons, where their services are sought after for their soothing and calming effects.

Professional Standards and Regulations

Massage therapy is a regulated profession in many countries, and massage therapists are required to adhere to specific professional standards and regulations. They may need to obtain a license or certification, which ensures that they have met the necessary educational requirements and have demonstrated competency in their practice. Massage therapists are also bound by a code of ethics, which includes maintaining client confidentiality, providing a safe and comfortable environment, and practicing within their scope of practice.

On the other hand, masseuses may not be subject to the same level of regulation and professional standards. As mentioned earlier, the term "masseuse" is often associated with individuals who provide sensual or erotic massages, which may not align with the professional standards upheld by massage therapists. It is important to research and choose a reputable establishment or practitioner when seeking a massage to ensure a safe and professional experience.

Clientele and Specializations

Massage therapists and masseuses often attract different types of clientele due to their varying areas of expertise. Massage therapists, with their comprehensive training, are sought after by individuals with specific health concerns, such as chronic pain, sports injuries, or postural imbalances. They may specialize in various modalities, such as deep tissue massage, sports massage, prenatal massage, or myofascial release, to cater to the unique needs of their clients.

Masseuses, on the other hand, tend to attract clients seeking relaxation and stress relief. Their expertise lies in providing soothing massages that promote relaxation and a sense of well-being. While they may not specialize in specific modalities, masseuses often excel in techniques such as Swedish massage, hot stone massage, or aromatherapy massage, which are known for their calming and rejuvenating effects.


While the terms "massage therapist" and "masseuse" are often used interchangeably, it is important to recognize the distinctions between the two. Massage therapists undergo formal education and training, possess a broader scope of practice, and are subject to professional standards and regulations. Masseuses, on the other hand, may not have the same level of training or expertise and often focus on providing relaxation massages. When seeking a massage, it is crucial to consider your specific needs and goals to choose the right practitioner who can provide the appropriate treatment for you.

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