The Ethics of Massage Therapy (Part II)

In my last blog I wrote that there are general principles of ethics that professional and responsible massage therapists follow. I want to continue on this topic with a specific look at some of the more important ethical principles that massage therapists hold.

Of course, ethics are personal, and they are applied differently from person to person. However, most of the values described in this, and forthcoming blogs, could be, I think, generally agreed upon as a sort of massage therapist Hippocratic oath, or at least a small part of it.

Voluntary and Informed Consent:

Looking back at the seemingly simple question that started last week’s entry (Would you like a massage?), and it looks anything but a simple question, as a massage is in some ways a very invasive form of treatment. It involves manipulation of muscle groups, joints, and bones. Therefore, all recipients of massage therapy must have the choice of receiving their massage, as well a say in the type of massage that they will receive. This means that the objectives and consequences of the massage must be discussed with the recipients and fully understood by them in order for a massage to take place ethically.

Beside the type of massage, factors like the amount of pay, length of the massage, as well as the portions of the body that will receive massage must all be thoroughly understood by the recipient to ensure that the massage will be appreciated and desired.

With this informed acceptance of a massage also comes the right to denial. This right of refusal is based on factors that don’t just include the type, length and amount of pay of the massage, but to other factors as well, for example, a perceived problem with the attitude and mental state of the therapist by the client. The right of refusal also extends to the therapist, who can refuse to perform massage on a recipient for a large number of reasons (the therapist believes the client is misleading about his or her health, is inappropriate, extremely late, etc.).

JoyLife Therapeutics has clearly outlined its policy of right of refusal on this Web page:

Check out our blog next week for an entry on the ethic of boundaries, another value (like informed consent and the right of refusal) that massage therapists must be sure to enforce to ensure that they remain comfortable and responsible in their profession.

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