Understanding the Importance of Ethics


Definition. When you think of ethics, words like honesty, integrity and fairness may come to mind, and incorporating these values into your professional conduct is a great place to start thinking about ethical behavior. To think a little more deeply on the subject, however, you might consider ethics in two ways.

Ethical principles. You can think of the principle of ethics as goals you can continually strive for throughout your massage therapy career. Ethical principles are not meant to be limiting or restrictive, but instead provide inspiration.

An example of an ethical principle might concern your commitment to providing the best possible bodywork you can to all of your clients. Or, always ensuring you present a professional image and maintain the highest professional standards. Again, they’re not objective standards that can be measured, but rather subjective goals for you to aspire to.

Rules of ethics. Alternatively, as a massage therapist you will also be bound by rules and regulations that are mandatory and enforceable. AMTA’s Code of Ethics, for example, has five rules of ethics that cover such things as professional conduct, truth in marketing and advertising, as well as confidentiality.

Scope of practice. Your ethical obligations are going to extend beyond your association membership, however. For the many states that regulate the practice of massage therapy, scope of practice is going to define the services you can lawfully perform. So, you need to be aware of how your state defines scope of practice for massage therapy, because violation of that scope would constitute breaking the law.

For example, many states that regulate massage therapy align the functions of diagnosing, prescribing and treating with the practice of medicine, and prohibit massage therapists from using these terms to describe what they do. So, if you advertise that massage therapy can treat stress, you may be in violation of some states’ laws.


Check out all AMTA's great continuing education opportunities focused on helping you reinforce your ethics. Or, browse all of AMTA's rigorously vetted continuing education!  

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