All massage therapy professionals are expected to follow a code of ethics. The therapeutic relationship is the proper space to communicate and work with clients in order to facilitate their healing journey; the topic of professional ethics in the massage field is an ever-present topic of significance and must be taken into account when addressing the therapeutic relationship.

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 centre of building trust with your clients and creating and maintaining a therapeutic environment that is beneficial for both you and your clients.

Due to those few massage therapists who violate ethics, especially choices regarding ethical dilemmas, laws have been created to protect the general public.

According to the AMTA, there are two schools of ethics law: the principles of ethics and the rules of ethics.

Pocket Guide: How to Become a Massage Therapist. 

The Principles of Ethics in Massage Therapy:

Massage therapists/practitioners shall:

  1. Demonstrate commitment to providing the highest quality massage therapy/bodywork to those who seek their professional service.

  2. Acknowledge the inherent worth and individuality of each person by not discriminating or behaving in any prejudicial manner with clients and/or colleagues.

  3. Demonstrate professional excellence through regular self-assessment of strengths, limitations and effectiveness by continued education and training.

  4. Acknowledge the confidential nature of the professional relationship with clients and respect each client’s right to privacy within the constraints of the law.

  5. Project a professional image and uphold the highest standards of professionalism.

  6. Accept responsibility to do no harm to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of self, clients and associates.

The Rules of Ethics:

Massage therapists/practitioners shall:

  1. Conduct all business and professional activities within their scope of practice and all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

  2. Refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their clients in the course of a massage therapy session.

  3. Be truthful in advertising and marketing, and refrain from misrepresenting his or her services, charges for services, credentials, training, experience, ability or results.

  4. Refrain from using AMTA membership, including the AMTA name, logo or other intellectual property, or the member’s position, in any way that is unauthorized, improper or misleading.

  5. Refrain from engaging in any activity which would violate confidentiality commitments and/or proprietary rights of AMTA or any other person or organization.

The therapeutic relationship concept is a cornerstone curriculum in most massage therapy programs. As the practitioner learns how to show this relationship, the level of professionalism increases, and the client-therapist bond grows stronger.

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