Added: Jaran Kendrick - Date: 04.02.2022 00:02 - Views: 24878 - Clicks: 1897
It is the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to massage therapy as a profession. Sex and the role it plays in our profession, the history and misperceptions of massage, awkward moments … these issues are the hardest ones to deal with.
This article is geared towards helping new massage therapists with issues involving sex, arousal, and what to do to limit ethical dilemmas. Laura Allen and Cherie Sohnen-Moetwo influential veteran massage therapists, understand the ethical issues and the complicated relationship between sex and massage. Why is legitimate massage still sometimes confused with prostitution?
Laura Allen says the answer has something to do with the history of the massage profession. She says thanks to The Massage Therapy Foundation and the serious research that is being done in the community, as well as professional associations like AMTA and ABMPmassage is slowly being accepted as a legitimate form of health and wellness care. Allen notes that location is a factor, as well. The burden is on massage therapists and professional associations like AMTA and ABMP to continue educating people and keeping those boundaries separate.
Older folks might still use old terminology, as well. Cherie Sohnen-Moe has spent years dealing with the topic of sex and ethics in massage therapy. Part of it is our society and people have strong emotions and fears about sex. We get embarrassed.
We get afraid. Massage therapists sometimes have clients who get aroused during a massage. It happens, and both Allen and Sohnen-Moe say it may not be a frequent occurrence, but if you practice massage therapy long enough, it will probably happen to you. It would happen to me… male clients would get aroused and then become extremely embarrassed. She would then ask if they wanted to continue, give them time to compose themselves or move to a different area.
She set them at ease. Laura Allen was hilariously irreverent about this particular aspect of massage. She said in her North Carolina drawl:. The point, they both say, is that you might feel awkward, the client might feel embarrassed, but deal with it in a professional manner and try to put your client at ease. Sometimes the situation is not just accidental arousal. Intentions matter; a request for sexual favors, a blatant touch, sly comments, body language, or anything that sets off alarm bells for the therapist must be taken seriously. Hands off and step back from the table. When an incident occurs, the first moments are crucial in keeping a very clear boundary.
Look for clues. Use a professional intake form you can download our template here. Not exactly professional. Speaking of intake forms, discuss your therapeutic treatment services in detail and in a professional manner during the intake.
Discuss a treatment plan and set expectations for the session. Both Allen and Sohnen-Moe agree: professional dress is important. You project an image with tone of voice, posture, body language and attitude. All of the above are measures you can take to reduce risk.
There is an entire industry in the medical world devoted to malpractice, ethics hearings, lawsuits and misconduct. I told the class later, if that had happened in the privacy of a treatment room and a client took it the wrong way, that could have been the end of his career. This is not to say that every client is suspect! Therapists need to protect themselves, but clients need to protect themselves too.
Regulations about draping are different in every state. For some states, draping is mandatory. Draping exists as a boundary between you and a client. Sohnen-Moe has a slightly different take on draping. There are cultures where draping is optional, clothing is optional. Get your ego out of the way and figure out what the client needs and what they are thinking.
If they request no drapes, it probably has nothing to do with sexual intent. Still, unless you are in a sanctioned, clothing-optional environment, draping is required. Candles, low lighting, soft music, and touching…for some people all of these things add up to triggering a sexual response.
Sohnen-Moe recommends a few options. Consider using an eye pillow instead of a dim room. Or wait until they are on the table before dimming the lights. Nix the candles and change up the music, or use an air filter for background noise. Both experts agree that for new massage therapists, it can be really awkward. What helps is to practice role-playing these situations with colleagues, co-workers, and fellow students.
Role-play different scenarios. Practice handling embarrassing situations so you can feel more comfortable knowing what to do if a situation arises.
Not every sexual nuance means that a client wants to have sex with you. Still, therapists do not deserve to be made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. My hope would be to strengthen the people who react to sexual situations with fear or offense, so they react with strength and clarity. Separate the request from whatever your notions are about sex. She is the co-author of the ground-breaking book titled The Ethics of Touchwhich is used in more than schools and associations. Learn more about Cherie on her website Sohnen-moe. First and foremost, trust this finds you well.
Thank you to Massamio Blog and Benjamin McDonald for the above mentioned great article posted, nice topic indeed. I have been turning down several male clients requesting for house-call massage even though its on referral basis, fearing that I may not be able to handle such situation however after reading this articles, it motivates me moving forward with more confident and shall carry these tips along within me at all times. Once again, my sincere thank you. Stay safe and do take care.
Thanks for writing, Rukilah, and for sharing your experience. It sounds like your confidence is growing, and this is a cornerstone to being effective. Best wishes! Thanks for this post. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Facebook Twitter. History Why is legitimate massage still sometimes confused with prostitution?
Massage therapists occasionally get asked to perform sexual favors. First, Sohnen-Moe says you have to recognize the difference between arousal and intention. Intention Sometimes the situation is not just accidental arousal. Break physical contact and step away. Make eye contact. Change posture. Clearly communicate expectations. I practice therapeutic massage. It may be a case of ignorance or fuzzy expectations or impulse.
Trust your instincts and end the session if necessary. Screening Look for clues. Setting Expectations Speaking of intake forms, discuss your therapeutic treatment services in detail and in a professional manner during the intake. Attitude You project an image with tone of voice, posture, body language and attitude. Have an escape route. Protect Against Ethical Complaints There is an entire industry in the medical world devoted to malpractice, ethics hearings, lawsuits and misconduct. Draping Regulations about draping are different in every state. Practice Both experts agree that for Massage therapist wants sex massage therapists, it can be really awkward.
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A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Addressing Questions About Sex