Massage + Ethics

Maintaining and upholding an ethical practice is important for any profession, but especially so for massage therapy. While working with your clients, complicated issues may arise, and knowing how to handle these problems in a professional, ethical manner can be the key to a successful practice.

Massage therapy is a profession built on the idea of trust. Trust in your client and their trust in you are vital to creating a strong therapist/client relationship and, ultimately, your ability to help your clients.

Ethical standards are at the center of building trust with your clients, and creating and maintaining a therapeutic environment that is beneficial for both you and your clients. According to Jean Middleswarth, a licensed massage therapist and ethics instructor, by behaving ethically, massage therapists are acting as responsible role models who help build public trust and establish a “standard of expectation for a professional therapeutic massage.” Ethical conduct also helps provide consistency in the professional behavior of massage therapists, thus maintaining the integrity of the profession, she adds.

That’s not to say, however, that ethical dilemmas don’t occur. In fact, Kathy Ginn, a massage therapist who studied ethics under Cedar Barstow at the Right use of Power Institute in Boulder, Colorado, believes they are fairly common because of the nature of the massage therapy profession. “The relationship between client and practitioner can be complicated and confusing for both parties,” warns Ginn. The complex nature of maintaining a professional relationship, Ginn explains, is compounded because of the intimacy inherent in massage therapy.

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Excerpted from Winter 2014 Massage Therapy Journal (mtj).

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