North Carolina State Exemptions

North Carolina Massage Laws and Relevant Code

Massage Board: Frequently asked questions: first paragraph.

A) Services to the public

“Massage therapy is the use of hands and application of pressure to the soft tissue, known as “manual” therapy.   Massage therapy is one form of bodywork therapy. There are a variety of other therapeutic techniques that involve manipulation of the body Massage therapy can take many forms, or “modalities.” These forms include Swedish, Deep Tissue, Neuromuscular, Eastern, or medical massage, just to name a few. Often a therapist will combine several modalities to create an “integrated” massage, using a bit of several techniques to address a client’s individual needs. ”

What kinds of techniques are and are not considered massage therapy or bodywork therapy (and thus require a license)?  “The practices of movement educators such as dance therapists or teachers, yoga teachers, personal trainers, martial arts instructors, or movement re-patterning practitioners are not considered massage or bodywork therapy.”

Certain other licensed healthcare professionals may be permitted to give a massage; however, they are not permitted to represent themselves as Licensed Massage & Bodywork Therapists. (


 North Carolina Massage and Bodywork Therapy Practice Act

Article 36 (Definition of what is Massage Therapy, Bodywork)

(3) Massage and bodywork therapy. Systems of activity applied to the soft tissues of the human body for therapeutic, educational, or relaxation purposes.

§ 90-623. License required.

(a) A person shall not practice or hold out himself or herself to others as a massage and bodywork therapist without first applying for and receiving from the Board a license to engage in that practice.
(b) A person holds out himself or herself to others as a massage and bodywork therapist when the person adopts or uses any title or description including “massage therapist” “bodywork therapist”, “masseur”, “masseuse”, “massagist”, “somatic practitioner”, “body therapist”, “structural integrator”, or any derivation of those terms that implies this practice.
(c) It shall be unlawful to advertise using the term “massage therapist” or “bodywork therapist”


Page 3 North Carolina Massage and Bodywork Therapy Practice Act


(5)    A person giving massage and bodywork therapy to members of that person’s immediate family.

(6)    The practice of movement educators such as dance therapists or teachers, yoga teachers, personal trainers, martial arts instructors, movement repatterning practitioners, and
(7)   The practice of techniques that are specifically intended to affect human energy field.


North Carolina Medical Practices act:

North Carolina General Statutes § 90-18 Practicing without license; penalties
(c)        The following shall not constitute practicing medicine or surgery as defined in this Article:
(1)        The administration of domestic or family remedies.
(5)        The treatment of the sick or suffering by mental or spiritual means without the use of any drugs or other material means.



Medical practitioners, clergy and attorneys are typically regarded as professionals without much
debate. In North Carolina and Texas, the legislatures opted to exempt professional services rendered “by
a member of a learned profession”x  and providing advice or professional skill,xi  respectively.

In North Carolina and Texas, the legislatures opted to exempt professional services rendered “by
a member of a learned profession”x and providing advice or professional skill,xi respectively. Thus, it is
left to the courts to construe the meaning of the statute and to apply the exemptions accordingly.
In addition to the practice of medicine, lawxii, and theology – professions the courts have
traditionally considered “learned” – courts have expanded the learned profession exemption under this
Act to include such professionals as architects,xiii chemical dependency treatment facility operators,xiv
residential home inspectorsxv and a professional arborist.xvi In other contexts, the North Carolina Court of
Appeals defined “professional services” as “an act or service arising out of a vocation, calling, occupation,
or employment involving specialized knowledge, labor, or skill…  (ApplicabilityofProfessionalSvcsExemptions_000)


Clergy Privilege (Priest -Penitent Privilege)

As Robert Catz and Jill Lange detail, “Clergy-Communicant Privilege arose in response to the traditional ‘Seal of Confession’ required by the Catholic Church. The privilege disappeared during the English Reformation, but later reappeared both in England and in the United States. One explanation for its existence is that preserving confidential communications made in the interest of spiritual rehabilitation or solace is deemed to ‘overbalance the possible benefit of permitting litigation to prosper.’ Today, the privilege is recognized by statute in nearly every state. Generally, the privilege applies to ministers, priests, and rabbis; it is doubtful whether lay officials or self-designated ministers would be protected.” ( )

North Carolina, in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 8-53.2, provides that “no priest, rabbi, accredited Christian Science practitioner, or a clergyman or ordained minister of an established church shall be competent to testify in any action, suit or proceeding concerning any information which was communicated to him and entrusted to him in his professional capacity, and necessary to enable him to discharge the functions of his office according to the usual course of his practice or discipline, wherein such person so communicating such information about himself or another is seeking spiritual counsel and advice relative to and growing out of the information so imparted, provided, however, that this section shall not apply where communicant in open court waives the privilege conferred.” ( )


NAIC Opinion

North Carolina Laws and code strictly specify that they are to protect the “PUBLIC”. That means in the secular or public domain. NAIC SomaVeda Integrative Traditional Therapies: Thai Yoga/ Indigenous, Traditional Thai Massage members are part of a Native American tribal organization and a legitimate church. Services are between members and between our sacred medicine persons and members and no services are performed on the public. That means the healing services, therapies and private counseling we do is not under the jurisdiction of the State of North Carolina. This goes for other states as well.

North Carolina does not generally require a pastor to have a license to perform counseling so long as it is performed as part of his “pastoral duties.”  I’m not aware of any North Carolina law that would prevent a pastor from charging a fee for counseling.

Clergy, ministers, priest, rabbi’s and medicine persons, medicine elders are considered to be “Learned Professionals” and as such are eligible to receive the “APPLICABILITY OF LEARNED PROFESSIONAL SERVICES EXEMPTIONS”.

Communication and exchange of confidential information and spiritual counsel within the context of our Native American Church and the practice of our ceremonies is clearly confidential and protected activity by State of  North Carolina statute and by other relevant Federal Law, Code and precedent. (AIRFA, RLUIPA, Boylle Decision, 42 USC Chapter 21B, more legal…)

NAIC Native American Ministers in North Carolina do not offer the practice of medicine, massage and or massage therapy, Pastoral, Clerical, Ministerial, Priestly Counseling as defined by North Carolina law and statute and therefor are not compelled to apply for relevant licensing. The Thai Yoga and other healing modalities we practice are by definition and church/ tribe doctrine Chirothesia and not “practice of manipulation of soft tissue”.  All contact with other church members is an extension of divine hand of God and Spirit as an ct of expressing practically our love.

Therefore, it is strongly recommended that NAIC Church member Pastors, clergy, ministers and medicine men and women only perform sacerdotal and or ceremonial healing in the context of their regular “pastoral care and duties” to avoid confusion.

Do Not Advertise for “Massage, Massage Therapy, Bodywork” or any specialty that infers that it is a practice of the aforementioned terms unless you have a North Carolina Massage License in hand! Ignorance of the law is no defense!

Please note: Just because we allow Licensed Massage Therapist to participate or to gain Certification in SomaVeda® Thai Yoga or Thai Massage (slang), does not denegrate our sacred healing practices into the practice of massage!

Furthermore NAIC member ministers, medicine men and or woman are restrained from advertising or promoting prohibited services such as massage, massage therapy, bodywork etc. to the public. It is recommended the following statement be prominently displayed on all advertising “Please note: [ NAIC Authorized Member Name] does not see or provide services to the Public. Private specialized ministerial services and or counseling provided exclusively by and to NAIC Authorized members. Active NAIC APM membership required for any and all consultations and or services, exchanges etc. (Any and all titles displayed under religious privilege unless otherwise indicated)”  We understand that uneducated persons may misconstrue, misunderstand or be confused by the legal jurisdictions, principles, rights and responsibilities that we hold as healers. So it is in every one’s vital interest to to learn the legal basis for their practice and follow all NAIC directed procedures in their particular ministry.

All NAIC ministers are directed to include laying on of hands, Chirothesia, energy and spiritual, ceremonial and sacramental modalities, natural healing, Yoga Therapy and or any other NAIC authorized healing / wellness generative and supportive modality as part of their regular duties.

There limits to what NAIC Members can practice!

  NAICReligious, Spiritual, Alternative and or Chirothesia Healthcare Practices are not the Practice of Medicine as defined by State Law!
•[Practitioner/ Member] does not diagnose or prescribe for medical or psychological conditions nor claim to prevent, treat, mitigate or cure such conditions.
• [Practitioner/ Member] does not provide diagnosis, care, treatment or rehabilitation of individuals, nor apply medical, mental health or human development principles.

You have constitutional rights which are listed in the legal section of this web site. Please read and understand them as law enforcement and competing secular therapist in most cases will be unfamiliar with them. Laws vary from state to state and it is important for you to understand your legal right to participate in the sacraments of the NAIC. NAIC does not support violation of the law. The NAIC does not have a legal fund to defend you but does have all of the documentation to support you in your earnest desire to participate as the spirit dictates so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others and is in accordance with the NAIC mission statement and Authorized Participant Rules. For specific legal opinions regarding the above issues we recommend that you contact our NAIC Legal Advisors and or Counsel.