Every now and then I take a peek at the professional massage therapy boards on Facebook. Every time I do, I am astounded by some of the comments I see left by some Licensed Massage Therapists and/or Body-workers, and Massage Therapy and/or Body-Work Educators. It is deeply concerning. What I saw in the conversation tonight was so stunning that I had to write this. I would suggest that some of the Massage Therapists participating on these boards could spend LESS time on these boards and more time taking ethics classes.
I’m just guessing here, but many signs indicate on these threads that some of the participants had ethics in entry-level and then never took another ethics class after that. It also seems that if they did have an ethics class in entry-level, it was either a marginal class at best, or they simply forgot the important ethical rules of engagement they agreed to.
Another problem is ethics classes 20-30 years ago were non-existent or completely different from what we have now. We didn’t have the internet or much regulation in those days, let alone testing, and some states don’t require continuing education in ethics for licensure renewal. This is very bad as it produces seasoned professionals who are operating ethically from the education they received 20-30 years ago.
Commonplace ethical violations seen all over these boards are: breach of confidence, discrimination, therapists out of scope, personalization of the therapeutic relationship, diagnosing, prescribing, promoting mythology and advising incorrectly to name a few.
A few reasons we as Massage Therapists and body workers need to take ongoing ethics classes are as follows:
- Things shift and change. We want our profession to evolve, It IS evolving, and we need to evolve with it.
- We will never know it all.
- Our clients make themselves vulnerable whenever we work with them. We need to be as prepared as possible for the multitude of potential ethical dilemmas that can unfold before us, keep our clients safe, and protect ourselves and the profession.
- We can do harm.
- We are all representing the profession that is now respected as legitimate health care. We need to protect that by acting as ethical representatives. To do otherwise is to sabotage the gains.
If you are a practicing LMT or body worker and have not had an ethics class for several years, and/or failed to learn the basic ethical rules of engagement in entry-level, please, Please, PLEASE get up to speed NOW on your ethics, and continue to learn! Ethics classes are fun and no one knows it all. Those who think they do are a problem.
If you are a massage therapy and/or bodywork educator and you are not up to date on your ethics, your feet are to the fire because the damage you can do will multiply. It is critically important to get the ego in check so one can learn. Humility is critical for the ability to receive information and thus embody that information as knowledge.
Plenty of ethics classes right here at NCBTMB and you can even take some of them online!
It IS an ethical responsibility to continue to learn about ethics for the life of your career and it does not matter if your state does not require it for licensure renewal. It’s the right thing to do.
Jill K. Berkana LMT, BCTMB