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Massage treatments, aromatherapy and reflexology

Code of practice nine


The purpose of this code of practice (COP) is to support the policy decisions and conditions of licence adopted by the council in respect of special treatments establishments.


This COP details specific requirements for massage treatments, aromatherapy and reflexology in addition to those laid down in the regulations applicable to all special treatment licensed premises.



For the purposes of this COP massage refers to all massage treatments listed in the special treatment group A-Z list of therapies including:

  • swedish massage
  • sports massage
  • thai massage
  • bowen technique
  • beauty massage
  • indian head massage
  • shiatsu massage
  • rolfing 
  • manual lymphatic drainage
  • hopi ear candling

Contact Regulatory Services for further advice.

Aromatherapy massage

Massage involving the use of essential oils.


Use of pressure and massage on the reflex points on the feet and hands to treat or alleviate symptoms and disorders.

Client consultation

A full client consultation must be carried out and recorded at the time of the first visit. This must include:

  • name and address of the client
  • age - clients under 16 years of age should be accompanied by a parent or guardian
  • medical history
    • pregnancy
    • heart disease/pacemaker
    • epilepsy
    • diabetes
    • high or low blood pressure
    • allergies
    • taking blood thinning medication
    • haemophilia
    • hepatitis
    • concurrent drug treatments such as antihistamines, steroids
    • skin conditions
    • immuno-compromising conditions
    • implants as a result of surgery/artificial joints
    • psychiatric disorders
    • any other medical condition that may affect treatment
  • contra-indications noted and client referred to their GP for advice if required
  • type of treatment requested and treatment plan
  • risks and reactions to treatment discussed and recorded

The record should be signed by the client, or guardian/parent of the client if under 16, as a declaration of agreement to treatment, having been advised of the risks. A record of subsequent treatments and any contra-actions must be kept.

Clients should be provided with suitable verbal and written aftercare advice. If pre-existing conditions are declared or noted during the consultation, and fall outside the scope of the therapist's training, treatment should not be provided without the consent of the client's Doctor or other appropriate healthcare professional.

Infection control

  • Handwash facilities should ideally be available within the treatment area. If the hand wash basin is outside the room the therapist will need to demonstrate through a process of risk assessment that hygiene and infection control are not compromised.
  • Liquid soap and hand drying facilities must be located by the hand wash basin.
  • A separate hand wash basin must be available within the toilet facilities.
  • Hands must be washed using liquid soap immediately prior to and after treatment.
  • Couches, tables and trolleys must be wiped with a suitable disinfectant between clients.
  • If towels are used a clean towel must be used for each client and they should be washed at 65 Celsius or greater.
  • Couch roll should be changed between clients.
  • Whilst hand washing is vital to maintaining hygiene and infection control the therapist must have due regard to the risk of dermatitis and use appropriate products. (further information available via the HSE & Habia websites).


All therapists carrying out treatments detailed in this COP must hold a relevant professional qualification that is externally verified, specific to the treatment and meets current national occupational standards.

Suitable qualifications include:

  • ITEC
  • NVQ Level 3 
  • VTCT Level 3
  • City & Guilds Level 3
  • Cidesco
  • CIBTAC Diplomas

Practitioners who hold qualifications not listed above, or hold a qualification obtained abroad, will need to undertake a suitable course as listed above or have the qualification verified by a NVQ approved acquired learning assessor and the U.K. equivalent qualification awarded or apply for UK comparison through an organisation such as UK Naric.

Therapists must not offer treatment types outside their area of qualification and are advised to obtain membership of a recognised professional body.

Members of one of the professional bodies on the list of bodies of health practitioners granted exemption under Section 4 of The London Local Authorities Act 1990 (as amended) can apply to the council for exemption from licensing.


Clients must be advised of the possible after effects of treatments verbally and, for first time clients, in writing. Provision must be made for clients to rest after treatment.


This code of practice will be reviewed regularly and updated in light of current industry guidance and legal opinion. Any changes will be notified to licensees and will be attached as conditions to your licence with effect from the date of the next renewal of your licence.

Further Information

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 08 Feb 2017 at 13:44