Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Massage Ethics: Client asks for inappropriate massage

These are real ethical situations presented by students in our Massage Ethics class.

Male Client, Female Therapist.

The massage therapist had finished a full body massage with the client. During the last moments of the massage the client asked if he could book another massage for the following day. The therapist thought this was a bit strange as most people do not immediately rebook consecutive days. She thought through her schedule and determined that she could work him in the following day. He agreed and then stated that perhaps tomorrow she could actually complete the “full” body massage. Red flags went up as she reviewed the work she had just completed and she recognized she had already provided him a full body, including head and feet work. He gestured below his abdomen. Not having a problem with communication or boundaries, she stated that she had provided a full body massage and there were not other parts of the body she could address. She asked him if he was referring to his genitals. He immediately backed off and told her he would call to schedule another one. Of course, she never heard from him.

This situation, while uncomfortable, was handled very well by the therapist. She was able to find her voice and state her boundaries clearly and quickly. The tension was reduced by her firmly stating she was a professional who did not provide that type of service.

The following are tactics you can use for many of the ethical situations you will face;

  1. State the obvious in a non-judgmental way. “I provided a full body massage. Are you asking for a sexual component?”
  2. State the boundary. “I do not offer any type of massage that is sexual in nature. I will no longer be able to work with you if that is what you are requesting.”
  3. Decide if you will continue the session or rebook based on the communication established.
  4. Trust your instinct. If something feels off, it probably is.

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