Sexual Misconduct in Massage Therapy

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition and Anatomy courses for several years. He has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from Furman University and a M.S. in Dietetics & Nutrition from Florida International University. He is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C)

The nature of massage therapy inherently carries the risk of sexual misconduct. Review the types of potential sexual misconduct in massage therapy (i.e. impropriety, transgressions, and violations) and information on prevention. Updated: 01/11/2022

Massage Therapy Sexual Misconduct

While getting a massage, people are in a very vulnerable position as they are sometimes completely undressed and being touched all over their bodies by complete strangers. Oftentimes, a person getting a massage is feeling somewhat uncomfortable and uneasy. Because of these factors, certain behaviors and actions of a massage therapist can easily be classified as sexual misconduct, and sexual misconduct is the number one reported type of claim filed against massage therapists. Certain cases of sexual misconduct can warrant heavy fines, loss of a massage license, or even jail time. Therefore, it's important for massage therapists to know what classifies as sexual misconduct as well as how to prevent it.

There are many types of sexual misconduct in massage therapy, all of which should be avoided at all times.

Sexual misconduct can include:

  • Sexual impropriety
  • Sexual transgression
  • Sexual violation

Let's take a closer look at each type.

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  • 0:04 Massage Therapy Sexual…
  • 1:05 Sexual Impropriety
  • 1:53 Sexuality Transgression
  • 2:33 Sexual Violation
  • 2:54 Preventing Sexual Misconduct
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Sexual Impropriety

Sometimes sexual misconduct does not involve any physical touching, rather it involves crude, demeaning, and inappropriate jokes or comments. This type of sexual misconduct is classified as sexual impropriety. For example, if a massage therapist tells a client that his legs are looking really good today or something else sexual in nature, it could be classified as sexual misconduct. Additionally, videotaping or photographing a massage without the consent of the client or inappropriate flirting can also be classified as non-physical sexual misconduct. Oftentimes people think sexual misconduct involves only physical touching; however, as these examples prove, a massage therapist can commit sexual abuse without even touching the client.

Sexual Transgression

Sexual transgression involves inappropriate touching that is not necessarily overtly sexual. Areas such as around the breasts and upper thigh region can be sensitive and private areas for many people. Therefore, massage therapists should not massage these areas without first getting approval or consent from their clients. During massages, massage therapists should make sure that their clients are appropriately covered by a blanket or sheet. An example of sexual transgression could also be if a massage therapist did not keep the breast or groin area of the client covered with a blanket or sheet during the entire massage.

Sexual Violation

Sexual violation is the most severe form of sexual misconduct. Sexual violation is the sexual penetration of a person or the performance of a sexual act without approval or consent. In short, sexual violation is rape. This form of sexual misconduct can result in lifetime imprisonment.

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