Ethics for massage therapists

ethics for massage therapists

ELAP Recommendations:

  • 4.0 hours of instruction on the relationship of therapist and client
  • 18.0 hours of instruction on ethics and the therapeutic relationship  
  • 18.0 hours of instruction on boundaries in a therapeutic relationship Professional standards, ethics and legal practices: The therapeutic relationship, boundaries, dual relationships, transference, counter-transference, listening skills, physical/emotional self care, supervision, financial self care.
  • ELAP recommendation: 6.5 hours of instruction on documentation and client files ELAP recommendation: 43.5 hours of instruction on client assessment

Principles of Ethics – basic concepts of ethics, informed consent and boundaries, right of refusal, confidentiality.

Transference and countertransference :  These things will happen in a therapeutic relationship.   They are not something to be feared or to get rid of as many might think.  This is actually where much healing can happen on a much deeper level than just the skin and muscles.  Learning  about these concepts and really understanding the dynamics of relationships can help you build your massage practice in many ways.

Definitions of Transference – This is about the client!  It will happen.  It starts happening from the very minute that a client thinks about looking for a massage therapist and they haven’t even found you or your website.

Countertransference – This is about You.  It isn’t about taking on the energy of a client as I once read in a popular book on marketing massage.

Projection for massage therapists.  Projection is different from transference and countertransference but similar in a way.  Projection is about having a feeling and ‘projecting’  onto someone else.  It is a defense mechanism just like transference and counter transference.   We have defenses when we don’t have clear boundaries.

The therapeutic relationship and what it means as far as being a massage therapist.

Dual relationships

Sample Code of ethics; Create your own code of ethics

Boundaries for massage therapists – You boundaries are what help you build a solid practice.

Issues with Helping :  The Massage profession is part of the helping professions.  People come to careers in massage to help others.  This is the first issue of countertransference that a massage therapist will need to look at.  Here is a questionnaire on Why/How do you help?  to guide your studies.

More on How can I help? the book by Ram Dass

The Wounded Healer based on the myth of the wounded healer.  Are we all wounded healers?

The Drama Triangle – The roles of the rescuer, victims and persecutor.

Emotions in the massage session.


Listening skills

physical/emotional self care


Supervision is one of the most misunderstood  concepts mainly because of the word.  When we think of supervisors at work, we think of someone telling us what to do.  It could not be farther from the truth.  It is about getting your need for being heard met so that you can become clearer about your relationship with your clients and be more of service to them rather than approaching the massage table to fix others.   My goal is that one day, supervision will be required in massage school and getting regular ongoing supervision should be required CE.

How can I help? How do I help?  Questionnaire that is helpful in looking at your issues around helping and being a massage therapist

Forms of Peer Supervision

Peer Groups

Financial self care

Male Massage Therapists – Men in the massage profession have different challenges and issues than women.

Dealing with Burnout as a massage therapist