COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The public should realize a clear distinction exists between massage parlors and licensed massage therapists who provide professional medical care, a therapist said Thursday.

Elizabeth Palin, a staff member at the Colorado Institute of Massage Therapy, responded to the arrests of two women suspected of human trafficking at a massage parlor in town.

"Whenever we hear about an arrest, I'm definitely pleased that the awareness is getting out there," she said.  "I'm sure there are some people who still see all massage therapists as just someone who rubs a body."

Palin said licensed massage therapists serve only patients suffering from pain, stress, tension or other conditions.  She said the school teaches students to abide by ethics of the profession -- which include honoring a patient's boundaries and avoid making patients uncomfortable.

"If someone is looking for a massage right now, immediately, and they're not necessarily in any pain, and they want one late at night, that's not right," Palin said. "We teach them how they can protect themselves and their employers."

Brent Haney, a therapy student, said he's aware that some people will lump illegal massage parlors and legitimate massage clinics into the same category.

"A lot of people are really hesitant," he said.  "Almost 70 percent of the American population hasn't received a massage.  I think a lot of that reason is because they have those stereotypes."

Palin said she hopes most people acknowledge that licensed massage clinics have no involvement in human trafficking, prostitution or any other illegal activity.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 did not receive responses from several massage clinics contacted for their reaction to the massage parlor arrests.