Code of Ethics in Massage Therapy: Principles & Violation Consequences

Instructor: Sarah Friedl

Sarah has two Master's, one in Zoology and one in GIS, a Bachelor's in Biology, and has taught college level Physical Science and Biology.

Massage therapy is a field built on trust, and you will, therefore, be expected to follow a code of ethics in your professional practice. This lesson looks at some rules and guidelines that you should follow, as well as the consequences for violating them.

A Personal Touch

Massage therapy is both a challenging and rewarding field. You get to work with all different types of people, and help them heal from all sorts of ailments, injuries, or even just too much stress. But due to the close and personal nature of the work, it's very important that you follow the ethical rules that are designed to keep both you and your clients safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, ethics is not a clear black-and-white issue. Ethical dilemmas may be very clear, or they may be more subtle. Sometimes, you may not even realize that you are being unethical.

But fortunately, there are rules and guidelines out there to help you make sense of it all. Following these rules is important to the professionalism of the field of massage therapy. So let's take a closer look at the code of ethics in massage therapy, as well as what the consequences are for violating these rules.

Massage therapy is a field that is built on trust and ethical professionalism
massage therapy

Expectations of Massage Therapists

As a massage therapist, you are expected to adhere to certain guidelines that if followed, will provide a safe and professional environment for your work. These expectations include:

  • Committing to provide the highest quality massage therapy to those who seek your professional services
  • Not discriminating against clients or other professionals for any reason
  • Participating in regular continuing education in order to maintain and improve your professional knowledge and competence, evaluating both your personal and professional strengths and weaknesses
  • Projecting a professional image, and conducting your business with honesty and integrity

In addition to being professional, you must also be ethical. This involves following rules such as:

  • Representing your qualifications, education, and professional affiliations honestly and accurately, acknowledging any limitations you may have
  • Only providing services that you are qualified to perform
  • Identifying any limitations and contraindications for massage and referring your clients to other appropriate health professionals if necessary
  • Acknowledging that your relationship with each of your clients is confidential and respecting your client's right to privacy as mandated by law
  • Not engaging in activities that would violate your client's confidentiality
  • Advertising your services offered, charges, credentials, and ability honestly
  • Exercising the right to refuse to treat a person or a part of their body if there is a good reason to do so, as well as respecting your client's right to refuse or modify the treatment
  • Under no circumstances should you participate in sexual activity or conduct with your clients in the massage therapy session; you may also consider refraining from any relationship of this type for at least six months after you and your client have terminated your professional relationship
  • Avoiding any activities that would be in conflict with your obligation to act in your client's best interest
  • Ensuring your client's safety and privacy by providing appropriate draping and treatment
  • Only providing massage therapy treatment when there is the reasonable expectation that it will be beneficial to your client

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