Reiki Center of Venice ~ Professional Ethics

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Professional Ethics ~ 2 CE's

Professional Ethics 

2 Hours




By   Francine Milford, LMT

 Venice, Fl. 34285 





Copyright 2011 Francine Milford. All rights reserves. 


This course provides the most recent and updated information as it relates to Professional Ethics. This course will display the most recent changes and updates and how they may affect you and your business. 


Reiki Center of Venice Francine Milford, LMTP.O. Box 554Venice, FL. 34285                                



Professional Ethics

Goals and Objectives  


Course Description-“Professional Ethics” is a home study continuing education program designed for Florida licensed Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers.  This course focuses on the rules and laws that govern and regulate the practice of massage therapy and bodywork in the state of Florida. This course is updated yearly presenting the most recent changes and updates to the Florida statutes and Florida Board of Massage Therapy.  


Course Rationale-This course was developed to give updated information to Florida licensed massage therapists about professional ethics that regulate their profession. 


Course Objectives-The student will understand:

  •  Ethics of using the social networking
  • Massage therapist scope of practice
  • Roles and boundaries 
  •  Sexual harassment
  • Records and documentation  


Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • 1.      To increase their understanding of social networking and the role that ethics play in using new technology such as the Internet
  • 2.      To instruct massage therapists on their roles and boundaries in the Massage Session
  • 3.      To present the scope of practice of massage therapy.
  • 4.      To review changes for cause of disciplinary action as a Florida licensed Massage Therapist and concurrent penalties.
  • 5.      To present to massage students all updated information that affect the practice of massage therapy as it relates to new laws in the industry governing ethic violations. 


Course Instructor-Francine Milford, LMT, CTN    


*Method of Instruction-Text based online home study course         


*Course Requirements-In order to successfully complete this course you must complete the enclosed test and earn a score of 70% or higher. If you do not receive a 70% or higher, then you may contact the instructor to receive a new test. If you not score a 70% or higher on the second test, then you will have failed this course and will not receive your continuing education hours.    


*Determination of Contact Hours- “Professional Ethics” course will require at least 2 hours to complete.  This estimate is based on the accepted standard for home study courses of approximately 10-12 pages of written text per hour.  The complete text of this course is 32 pages. (Excluding test)      


*Table of Contents    

Title Page Number
About Ethics 4
Code of Ethics 6
             ABMP  8
             AMTA 9
             Department of Health 10
Ethical Rules 16
Ethics and the Internet 17
Boundaries 20
Ethics of Selling Products 21
Transference and Countertransference 23
Definitions 25
Test Questions  


Chapter One - About Ethics            

     When you decided to become a massage therapist you entered a very rewarding and sometimes demanding career field. By accepting this challenge, you also accepted a series of rules and laws that govern this health care profession. Among these sets of rules and laws is Ethics. Ethics govern your professional relationships both in and out of the client session.           

     The purpose of ethics is to protect the client-therapist relationship. Written, and unwritten rules of ethics can protect both the massage therapist and their clients from situation that compromise (or undermine) the client-therapist relationship. We will take a look at some of these situations in this course.           

     To define the word ethics, I turned to the Webster Pocket Dictionary of the English Language, New Revised Edition, Trident Press International, 1998, where it states that the word ethics refers to the study of and philosophy of human conduct with an emphasis on the determination of right and wrong. 2. The basic principles of right action, esp. with reference to a particular person, profession, etc. 3. A work or treatise on morals.           

     When we talk about ethical principles, we look to the word ‘principle’ as it is defined in the Webster Pocket Dictionary of the English Language, New Revised Edition, Trident Press International, 1998. The word principle means a ‘basic truth’ and ‘a set of moral standards or rules of conduct.’ In saying this, we are saying that there is a definite ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ action in our client-therapist relationship. To step out of this rule of conduct, we may then risk violating the client-therapist relationship.           

     But for many clients and therapists, there is a gray line that often makes its way into the client-therapist relationship. Each person in this relationship has their own set of experiences and belief systems that they bring to the session. Cultural beliefs may clash with state and local laws, especially as it relates to draping.           

      I have found that in my own practice, Europeans are often uncomfortable with having to be covered during a massage session (especially menopausal women). Many are used to lying nude on the table and being unrestricted with draping which may make the therapist look clumsy, prudish or unskilled. But the law here in Florida is quite clear about draping. Clients must be properly draped during the massage session. To do otherwise will put you, the massage therapist, at risk of violating the client-therapist relationship. If you are practicing in the State of Florida, then you must abide the rules and regulations in place here-and that includes proper draping.             

     Because you are the professional, it is your responsibility and duty to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your client, and to provide that within the massage therapy rules governing your profession. Many professional governing bodies will list their ethical principles on their website. These principles act as guidelines for handling yourself and your practice, and not as rules.                     



Chapter Two - Code of Ethics

     When you join any of these professional organizations and agree to abide by their ‘codes of ethics’ then you are providing a grievance process that the public can use to file complaints against you. A code of ethics is a   written document that states the beliefs and standards of an individual or group/organization. This code contains the values that the group wants to present to the public. Code of ethics can be used by both the consumer and the therapist. For the therapist, the code offers the therapists clear cut guidelines on how to act professional and what they can and cannot do in the massage session. For the client, the code of ethics offers them a professional environment of qualified and licensed therapists. That because of the code of ethics, there is a certain amount of respect and knowledge that clients can expect from their therapist.           

     Some national organizations have been put in place to oversee the professionalism of massage therapists and bodyworkers. Two of those organizations are the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). I have gone both to their websites and taken the following information from them to show you how similar these two organizations are in what they feel is a Code of Ethics for massage therapists and body workers to follow.As you read the Code of Ethics from these two large associations, look at the many similarities between them. It is these very items that they both have agreed are important and speaks to the professionalism of the massage therapist and/or bodyworker.         


ABMP 2011

Code of Ethics

As a member of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, I hereby pledge to abide by the ABMP Code of Ethics as outlined below.

Client Relationships

  I shall endeavor to serve the best interests of my clients at all times and to provide the highest quality service possible.  I shall maintain clear and honest communications with my clients and shall keep client communications confidential.   I shall acknowledge the limitations of my skills and, when necessary, refer clients to the appropriate qualified health care professional.  I shall in no way instigate or tolerate any kind of sexual advance while acting in the capacity of a massage, bodywork, somatic therapy or esthetic practitioner.



  I shall maintain the highest standards of professional conduct, providing services in an ethical and professional manner in relation to my clientele, business associates, health care professionals, and the general public.   I shall respect the rights of all ethical practitioners and will cooperate with all health care professionals in a friendly and professional manner.  I shall refrain from the use of any mind-altering drugs, alcohol, or intoxicants prior to or during professional sessions.  I shall always dress in a professional manner, proper dress being defined as attire suitable and consistent with accepted business and professional practice.  I shall not be affiliated with or employed by any business that utilizes any form of sexual suggestiveness or explicit sexuality in its advertising or promotion of services, or in the actual practice of its services.


Scope of Practice / Appropriate Techniques

      I shall provide services within the scope of the ABMP definition of massage, bodywork, somatic therapies and skin care, and the limits of my training. I will not employ those massage, bodywork or skin care techniques for which I have not had adequate training and shall represent my education, training, qualifications and abilities honestly.  I shall be conscious of the intent of the services that I am providing and shall be aware of and practice good judgment regarding the application of massage, bodywork or somatic techniques utilized.  

     I shall not perform manipulations or adjustments of the human skeletal structure, diagnose, prescribe or provide any other service, procedure or therapy which requires a license to practice chiropractic, osteopathy, physical therapy, podiatry, orthopedics, psychotherapy, acupuncture, dermatology, cosmetology, or any other profession or branch of medicine unless specifically licensed to do so.   I shall be thoroughly educated and understand the physiological effects of the specific massage, bodywork, somatic or skin care techniques utilized in order to determine whether such application is contraindicated and/or to determine the most beneficial techniques to apply to a given individual. I shall not apply massage, bodywork, somatic or skin care techniques in those cases where they may be contraindicated without a written referral from the client's primary care provider.


Image / Advertising Claims

     I shall strive to project a professional image for myself, my business or place of employment, and the profession in general.  I shall actively participate in educating the public regarding the actual benefits of massage, bodywork, somatic therapies and skin care.  I shall practice honesty in advertising, promote my services ethically and in good taste, and practice and/or advertise only those techniques for which I have received adequate training and/or certification. I shall not make false claims regarding the potential benefits of the techniques rendered.


Code of Ethics (AMTA) 2011

This Code of Ethics is a summary statement of the standards of conduct that define ethical behavior for the massage therapist. Adherence to the Code is a prerequisite for admission to and continued membership in the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).


*Principles of Ethics.  The Principles of Ethics form the first part of the Code of Ethics. They are aspirational and inspirational model standards of exemplary professional conduct for all members of the association. These Principles should not be regarded as limitations or restrictions, but as goals for which members should constantly strive.Massage therapists/practitioners shall:

  • 1.      Demonstrate commitment to provide 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.


Rules of Ethics. The Rules of Ethics are mandatory and direct specific standards of minimally-acceptable professional conduct for all members of the association. The Rules of Ethics are enforceable for all association members, and any members who violate this Code shall be subject to disciplinary action.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.   


Department of Health

     You may feel that by joining a professional organization that you can be safe from reprimands. But not joining such groups will not keep you safe from public complaints against you. In the state of Florida, the public can file complaints against you by going to the following website:           

   At this website, you can download and file a form against a particular health care provider or establishment. Since all health care practitioners operating in the State of Florida are regulated by the Department of Health, claims filed against practitioners and establishments are handled through this organization.           

    This organization will follow up and investigate complaints and if the party is found guilty, then action may include license suspension or revocation, restrictions, fines, etc. Complaints may include unlicensed activity, poor quality of care, misdiagnosis of condition, inappropriate prescribing, sexual contact with patient, insurance fraud, misfiled prescription, substance abuse, advertising violation, excessive tests or treatments, and patient abandonment and/or neglect.           

     And although the public may want to file complaints against a lackluster practitioner, there are definitely areas where the state does not get involved in dealing with the public against their therapists. These areas include fee and/or billing disputes, personality conflicts, rudeness, missed appointments and bad attitude.           


A copy of the form that appears for free downloading on the website is as follows:        




  • To file a complaint/report, you must do so in a signed, written report.  For your convenience you may use this form providing dates and details about your complaint.
  • Use a separate complaint form for each practitioner you wish to file a complaint against.
  • Be specific and include copies of pertinent medical records, correspondence, contracts, and any other documents that will help support your complaint.
  • Medical records are needed to process your complaint.  Since a health care practitioner cannot disclose his or her patient names or records with authorization, the Authorization for Release of Patient Information form included on page 3 must be completed and signed.  Signatures must be witnessed or notarized.
  • The Department will notify you in writing of the status of your complaint throughout the process.  Please advise us of any address change.
  • If the allegations contained in your complaint/report are determined to be possible violations of applicable laws and rules, your complaint will be opened for investigation.
  • Please note that if your complaint is assigned for investigation, a copy of the complaint form will be provided to the health care practitioner pursuant to Florida law.
  • The Department may investigate an anonymous complaint if the complaint is in writing and is legally sufficient, if the alleged violation of law or rules is substantial, and if the department has reason to believe, after preliminary inquiry, that the violations alleged in the complaint are true.
  • If you are reporting Medicaid Fraud, you may be entitled to a reward through the Office of the Attorney General.  For information and to report Medicaid Fraud, please contact the Attorney General’s Fraud Hotline by calling 1-866-966-7226 or online at and clicking the “Report Fraud” button.




Your Name:                  
                                      Last First M.I.  
                                      Street Address Apartment/Unit #  
                                      City State ZIP Code  
Home Telephone: (     )                  Work Telephone: (     )            Best Time to Call:        


Provider’s Name:                  
                                      Last First M.I.  
Practice Address:              
                                      Street Address Apartment/Unit #  
                                      City State ZIP Code  
Home Telephone: (     )                        Work Telephone: (     )                   
Profession:                 (i.e. doctor, dentist, nurse, etc.)  
License Number:                 (if known)  

PATIENT INFORMATION                                (Complete this section if Patient is not the same as Complainant/Reporter)

Name of Patient:                  
                                      Last First M.I.  
                                      Street Address Apartment/Unit #  
                                      City State ZIP Code  
Home Telephone: (     )                  Work Telephone:  (     )                   

Your Relationship to Patient

  Self Parent  Son/Daughter  Spouse  Brother/Sister  Friend  Other Practitioner  
***  Legal Guardian/provide court documents  Other                                 
Nature of Complaint/Report              (Please check all that apply.)  
  Quality of care   Inappropriate prescribing   Excessive test or treatment  
  Misdiagnosis of condition   Sexual contact with patient   Failure to release patient records  
  Substance abuse   Insurance fraud   Impairment/medical condition  
  Advertising violation   Misfilled prescription   Patient abandonment/neglect  
  Unlicensed  Problem other than listed above                                              
Have you attempted to contact the practitioner concerning your complaint?    Yes  Date:                                     No  
Would you be willing to testify if this matter goes to a formal hearing?    Yes                 No  
If the incident involved criminal conduct, you should contact your local law enforcement authority.  Have you contacted your local law enforcement authority?    Yes          No  
If yes, state the name of the person or office that you contacted.                                When did you make this contact?                               Please give case number if available.                       
***NOTE:  If other than patient or parent of a minor patient, please provide documentation indicating appointment of Legal Authority/Guardianship or Personal Representative.       

Please list any prior and/or subsequent treating practitioners relative to your complaint.

Full Name:                                           Address:                                                                      Telephone Number:                               Prior Treating Subsequent Treating
Full Name:                                           Address:                                                                      Telephone Number:                               Prior Treating Subsequent Treating 
Full Name:                                           Address:                                                                      Telephone Number:                               Prior Treating Subsequent Treating

Witnesses              (Please give full name, address and telephone number)

Full Name:                                           Address:                                                                      Telephone Number:                              
Full Name:                                           Address:                                                                      Telephone Number:                              
Full Name:                                           Address:                                                                      Telephone Number:                              

Please give full details of your complaint/report:  include facts, details, dates, locations, etc.  Please attach copies of medical records, correspondence, contracts, and any other documents that will help support your complaint. (attach additional sheets if necessary).  

 I have attached copies of medical records, correspondence, contracts, and any other documents that will help support your complaint.

What would satisfy your complaint? 
Florida Statutes 837.06, False Official Statements: Whoever knowingly makes a false statement in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his official duty shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.
Signature:                                                                                             Date:    
              (Required to file complaint)      

Please mail this form to: Florida Department of Health Consumer Services Unit4052 Bald Cypress Way, Bin C-75, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3275

AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE OF PATIENT INFORMATIONTO:  Any and All Treating Health Care Practitioners or Facilities: This authorization meets the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA Privacy Law) found at 45 CFR, Part 164. A photocopy of this document is as sufficient as the original. This document authorizes any and all licensed health care practitioners, including but not limited to: physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, counselors, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, hospitals, clinics, laboratories, medical attendants and other persons who have participated in providing any health care or service to me, to discuss any communication, whether confidential or privileged, and to provide full and complete patient reports and records justifying the course of treatment including but not limited to: patient histories, x-rays, examination and test results, reports or information prepared by other persons that may be in your possession and all financial records, to the Department of Health (or any official representative of the Department) pursuant to Section 456.057, Florida Statutes. This document provides full authorization to the Department of Health (or any official representative of the Department) to use any of the aforementioned reports and information for reproduction, investigation or other use for licensure or disciplinary actions and civil, criminal or administrative proceedings, as needed by the Department and may be subject to re-disclosure by the recipient and may no longer be protected by the federal privacy laws and regulation.   By signing below, the patient understands, acknowledges and authorizes the Department to release their identity and medical records to law enforcement and other regulatory agencies in appropriate circumstances at the departments’ discretion. I understand that this authorization may be revoked upon my written request except to the extent that action has already been taken on this authorization. _________________________________Patient Name (Please Print)                                                                                                                                                                      Patient Signature                                                D.O.B.                    Social Security Number                      Date                                                                                                                                                                                                 Name of Authorized Person other than Patient       (Please Print)                                                        Relationship                    ________________________________________Signature of Authorized Person Other than Patient STATE of ____________________                                                                              COUNTY of                                           Before me personally appeared                                                                         whose identity is known to me by                                                    (type of identification) and who acknowledges that his/her signature appears above. Sworn to or affirmed by Affiant before me this        day of              , 20                                                                                                                                                                                                        NOTARY PUBLIC - State of Florida                                                    My Commission Expires                                                                                                                                                                                                 Type or Print Name                                                                                               Witness Signature (if not notarized)         



Ethical Rules           

      Let’s take a look at some of the situations that may bring negative attention to you and to your business. You may be familiar with many ethical principles such as no discrimination, keeping records confidential, keeping a professional image, etc. but there are also ethical rules that are part of the code of ethics.  Ethical Rules include:

  • ·        Work within the scope of your practice
  • ·        Refrain from making sexual contact
  • ·        Refrain from making sexual and/or inappropriate jokes
  • ·        Truth in advertising
  • ·        Truth in marketing
  • ·        Do not make diagnoses
  • ·        Do not tell your client to stop taking their medications
  • ·        Do avoid conflict of interest But there are gray areas even were the rules are concerned. Some of these gray areas include: 
  •         ·        Accepting gifts from clients (does not include Holiday gift giving)
  •         ·        Referring clients to other health care practitioners for which you receive
  •         ·        Giving advice when not asked for
  •         ·        Offering solutions when not asked for
  •         ·        Offering advice that is out of the scope of practice (such as nutritional help)        



The Ethics of the Internet            

     With the invention of the Internet, and social networking in general, came the advent of a new opportunity to cross the client-therapist relationship. For massage therapists who have Facebook, Linkedin, and other social networking accounts, how do you handle clients who want to be your friend? Do you even have a standard policy for your clients? Should you?           

     If you are trying not to cross the boundaries of your client-therapist relationships then adding a client to your friend contact list on your social networking site can be construed as going out and having a cup of coffee with them, or maybe even a shopping trip with you. If this is something that you would not do with them, then don’t add them to your friend list. In fact, it would be highly advisable NOT to add ANY clients to your social networking. You are asking for problems done the line if you don’t have, replica breitling and follow, a policy for Internet relationships.           

    Here is where problems can arise and cause conflicts. What if you had a very hard day and had a particular rough time with a client. So you go onto your Facebook account and blow off some steam about the session. You don’t mention names but your client realizes that you are talking about them. Not only have you violated confidentiality rules, but you have crossed the line in the client-therapist relationship (trust).            

    Even if your client doesn’t have a friend status with you, perhaps one of your clients friends notice that you are talking about that particular client and reports the information to the client. Either way, you lose. You have crossed the line and the client has legal recourse to file a complaint against you.           

    This new technology also includes texting. You can’t text your friends with snippets of information like ‘oh here comes that client’ or ‘here comes my hunk of a client’ or ‘here comes fatso’, etc. Anything you say is a breach of confidentiality.            

    And as for cell phones, they should be treated just like client files. Your cell phone should be turned OFF during all sessions (do not set on vibrate either). Cell phones should also be placed where clients can’t see or read, what is on it. Just like client files, cell phones should be out of public view.           

    If you haven’t decided how you are going to handle adding client’s to your friends list, then you should take some time to consider this now. Remember, replica iwc you can’t add some and then refuse others. This will cause just as many problems in the long run as adding all of them.            It is a fine line that we cross everyday when our clients become our friends. We risk the loss of professionalism in our sessions and in our meetings outside of the massage session. We can help keep our professionalism by keeping up our lines of what constitutes the massage session and the client-therapist session.              

   Realize that that by even acknowledging one of you clients when you are out shopping can become a breach of confidentiality if that particular client doesn’t want anyone else to know that they are coming to you.           


     Gift giving and receiving is another potential problem. I don’t go out for coffee, lunch, etc. with my clients. They are my clients, not my friends. I do not share personal information with my clients. Even though I will listen to my clients about their family and friends, I will not offer up any of my own personal information. For some clients, it is just a matter of being friendly when they ask what my holiday plans are, or if I am married. Try not to be rude, but firmly direct them back to the massage session. Sometimes I gently say, “This session is not about me, it is all about you” you then follow up with a question like, “how is the pressure?”            

     It may seem rude, but it is easier to keep a door closed than to try to close a door once it has been opened. If you are firm and stick by your policies (which I hope you have written down and posted by now), then you will be able to enjoy long, healthy and successful relationships with your clients.           

     There are other ways to be sure that you are hearing and understanding your client’s specific needs. Some of these ways is understanding informed consent. Informed consent is where your client will be able to make a decision based on adequate information that you have supplied to them.  Informed consent should include:

  • ·        What the goals and purpose of the session are
  • ·        What the cost of the selected treatment is
  • ·        What are the potential benefits of selected treatment
  • ·        What are the potential risks of the selected treatment
  • ·        What is the amount of time needed to complete selected treatment. 


Given complete information about their situation, clients may then choose either to accept, or deny, the massage session. Even if a client at first agrees with your assessment and treatment begins, the client can stop the session at any time (yes, even in the middle of the session). This is their right of refusal and you must respect it. If your client stops the session, or if even if you stop the session, there should be a refund policy in place at your establishment. If you do not have one, then please write up one now. Be sure that ALL of your policies are in writing and posted on your brochures, or hanging somewhere in your room. This will easily stop accusations of discrimination or other perceived complaints.  In order to prevent any misunderstanding in your practice, you might consider writing up an informed consent statement. This statement can be part of your client intake form but if it is, then you should be sure that your clients receive a copy of it so that they can read it at home and keep it for future reference. 


Your informed consent statement can include the following information:·         Mission statement·         Refund Policy·         List of services that you offer with a definition of each·         Treatment plans and goals·         Potential risks and benefits of treatment·         Boundaries·         Ethics·         Right of Refusal policy                      




When we talk about boundaries, we sometimes think of it as a physical space. That if you stand too close, or touch inappropriately (sexual boundaries), you have crossed the boundaries of the client-therapist relationship. But boundaries are not just physical; they are also emotional and mental in nature. These boundaries may include the words that you speak, the gestures that you make, body language and the gaze of your eyes. They can be in the form of sexual joking, innuendo’s, and even perceived flirting. Keep yourself in check and if you are not sure whether you are being perceived correctly or not, ask a co-worker.You should also be keeping within your legal boundaries. Legal boundaries are what we call our ‘scope of practice’ and it is legally determined and defined by state law. This scope limits what services we can and cannot offer to the public at large, given our particular license to operate. As massage therapists, there are several things that we cannot do since they lie out of our scope of practice. Among these things are making diagnoses, offer counseling, give nutritional advice, use acupuncture needles, prescribe medications, read x-rays, and do spinal adjustments.                     






Ethics of selling products to your clients           



Just about any business book or business article in a magazine will tell you of the importance to selling products to your client. But we walk a fine line between knowing what is wrong and right when we push our products (our beliefs) unto our customers.            Even though you believe in the products that you sell, and even if you believe that these products will be of benefit to your client’s, is it ethical to sell products to your clients?           


As a professional we are often put into a role of knowing what is best for the health and well being of our client’s. We often make suggestions to our clients to help them on their path to healing. Our suggestions bear great weight with our clients as they want to trust our knowledge and experience in the world. Many of our clients will feel that we, as health care practitioners, know what succeeds and what will not.           


Some of the products that we sell many include neck and eye pillows, magnets, salts, Bach Flower essences and Aromatherapy essential oils. But before you make blanket recommendations to your clients, you must be aware that you must be honest and truthful in any and all claims that you make about the products. You will be held liable for any fraudulent claims that you make to your clients, especially if it causes them harm.            Clients put their faith and trust in you and expect that you will first do no harm. They look to you for help in pain reduction, to gain more flexibility and to improve the quality of their life. And you can help on so many levels.     





How to Practice ethics when selling products to your Clients           


To practice ethical behavior while selling products in your office, you must be aware of how you may be coming across to your clients. You must decide if selling products (and making more money) is more important to you than the clients’ health and well being? Check yourself during your communication with your client. Are you pushy? Are you saying words to your clients such as “If you want to feel better, then you will need to take these multivitamins every day?” or words like, “You can use lavender essential oil in a foot bath to treat athlete’s foot?” Be aware that you words carry weight with them and these sentences are outside of your scope of practice.               


Also be aware that if you sell products to your clients, then you may be held liable for any negative results from the client using the product. This is especially true if you client made a full disclosure to you on their health issues and erroneously suggested a product to them that was a contraindication to the medications that they are taking.           


If you have been specially trained in an area and have the credentials required by state law, then you can sell products to your clients that you feel would be of benefit to them. But even here, you must watch your claims and guarantees.           


When looking for insurance, look for a policy that offers product liability. It is always better to be safe than sorry. When I am asked about claims being made by the many product manufacturers in the world, I would honestly say to the client, “I don’t know enough about the product to help you decide whether it will be good for you or not.” If you want to go a step further, I would suggest that the client ask his or her primary care physician first. Lastly, I would enter this conversation into my S.O.A.P. notes in case any further discussion about it happens down the road. It has already happened in my business that a client came to me a month after taking something over the counter and blaming it on me. I pulled the chart out and read the notes from the session where I had successes they seek guidance from their doctor first (which of course they had not done). Seeing it in writing and reading it back to them jogged their memory. It is hard to argue with the written word so that is why I am sure to write ALL of the experiences and conversations of the session down in the clients’ charts. You just never know when you will need to remember something again. Make it a habit. It only takes a few extra minutes out of your day and save you headaches in the future.            


Even if you think that it is up to the client whether they purchase products from you or not, this is not true. Because of their trust and faith in you and your knowledge, clients can be easily persuaded to purchase products from you. They may also feel obligated to purchase these from you, even if they don’t want to. In this case, since the clients wants to please you, this is called transference.         





Transference and Countertransference



Transference is the act of transferring emotions and reactions by the client unto the therapist. Countertransference is the act of transferring emotions and reactions from the therapist on to the client.Transference and Countertransference can be either a positive or negative thing. If during the massage session the client gets a whiff of a scented candle that you are burning and it brings back pleasant memories, than the client will have a more positive transference. On the other hand, if the client experiences a specific way that you massaged their head in a negative way, then this will cause a negative transference.     


Some Signs of Transference by the Client



There are some signs of transference that you can be on the lookout for and they include:

  • ·        The client may tense up
  • ·        The client may begin to cry
  • ·        The client may begin to laugh
  • ·        The client may begin to relax
  • ·        The client’s voice may getter softer, or gentler
  • ·        The client’s voice may get louder, or huskier
  • ·        The client may begin to fidget, or become nervous
  • ·        The client may pull away from your touch
  • ·        The client may begin to breathe more rapidly
  • ·        The client may begin to sweat, or shake (as with fear)
  • ·        The client makes a fist
  • ·        The client quickly becomes silent
  • ·        The client moves their head from side to side
  • ·        The client frequently brings you gifts
  • ·        The client asks you out for a date
  • ·        The client calls you at home
  • ·        The client asks you for advice about their personal issues
  • ·        The client asks you for extra time in the session
  • ·        The client asks you about your personal life   


 If you experience any of these signs with your client, then try not to take it too personally. Your client is in a place of vulnerability and it may be hard for them to cope with their feelings undressed on a table. You might want to reassure your client that you are providing a safe and secure environment and that you there to focus on their particular needs. Be sure to communicate with, and receive feedback from, your client throughout the session.     


Transference often occurs when the client’s needs are not being met outside of the therapeutic session. These needs could be anything from having a human touch, to having someone taking care of their needs. When the therapist takes on this special and significant role in the client’s life, then transference may happen and may end up making the session uncomfortable or unhealthy for both the client and the therapist.     


If you see that your client will not make a move without your approval, then you will have to either to have a talk with your client about your boundaries, or find your client another therapist.           


If this transferences turns into a crush, or causes sexual innuendos, then the therapist must realize the early signs of transference occurring and reduce the chances of it becoming full blown-right from the start. Allowing things to progress without stopping them is almost the same as encouraging the behavior to continue.      





On the other side of the coin is Countertransference. In Countertransference, it is the massage therapist who reacts positively or negatively to the client. Perhaps a client comes in to your room and she reminds you of an old critical aunt that you despised growing up or perhaps even one that abused you as a child. Your reaction to this client will be quite different than if a person walked in to the room and they reminded you of a dearly loved aunt who you miss. Just like in transference, Countertransference can signal that the therapists’ has unresolved feelings in their own life and is looking to the client to fulfill one of their needs. Maybe the therapist wants to feel important in someone’s life and sees the client-therapist role as an opportunity to feel important and needed in the client’s life.In a massage relationship, the therapist must maintain strict boundaries between their personal and professional life. The massage session must be about the client and what their specific goals and needs are-not the therapist.   It is very easy to determine if you have Countertransference with your clients by answering the following questions. If you find yourself answering yes to these questions, then it would be best for you to re-evaluate your massage sessions:

  1. Are you are happy to see your client? Were you looking forward to seeing them?       
  2. Are you full of dread at seeing your client? Wishing and hoping that they would cancel their session or find another therapist?
  3. Are you happy and inspired while working on your client?
  4. Do you feel drained and uninspired while you are working on your client?
  5. Are you sad when the session ends or are watching the clock because you can’t wait until it is all over?
  6. Are you happy to hear about your client’s day or do you try to ‘tune out’ of their ramblings?
  7. Do you greet your client with enthusiasm and an uplifted voice or do you greet them with dread and abruptness.
  8. Do you find that you spend more time with the clients that you client before and after a session? Or do you meet and greet all of your clients and allow the same amount of time for each?
  9. Are you attracted to your clien
  10. Do you become overly emotional if you client cancels a session?
  11. Do you give one client additional time but not another?
  12. Do you find yourself arguing with a client?
  13. Do you find yourself becoming impatient with a client?
  14. Do you find yourself having romantic fantasies about a client?
  15.  Do you find excuses for your client’s inappropriate behavior?
  16. Do you find yourself becoming involved in your client’s life? 



It is important to keep proper perspective and to keep you emotions in check as it is easy to affect the outcome of the massage session. If you find that there are some clients that you simply can’t work on, then it would be best to refer them to another practitioner. That would be the ethical thing to do. If we can’t give our clients our undivided attention and focus, then we should allow them to find another practitioner to create a healthy client-therapist relationship with.         


Basic Terms and their Definitions 

  • Boundaries-Line between what is, and is not, acceptable behavior. 
  • Code of Ethics-Document stating standards of conduct of individual or group Countertransference-Therapist attributes the thoughts and feelings that they are having for another person on to the client. 
  • Ethics-Standards of behavior from an individual or group 
  • Morals-The beliefs of what is good and bad (right or wrong) of an individual or group 
  • Professional boundaries-What is, and is not, acceptable professional behavior 
  • Professional Ethics-Standard of expected professional behavior from an individual or group. 
  • Scope of Practice-Set of activities that a professional is, or is not, allowed to perform. This set of activities is defined by the professional’s training, laws and regulations. 
  • Transference-Client attributes the thoughts and feelings that they are having for another person on to the therapist.  



 Final Test

NAME______________________________ DATE________________


TELEPHONE NUMBER_______________________________________



Test Questions Please circle the correct answer for each of the following questions.


You must earn an 80% or higher in order to successfully complete this course and  receive your 2 ce’s.’’


  • 1.      The purpose of ethics in massage therapy is:  a. to get paid for the work that you do  b. to get a massage license  c. to know how to give a good massage  d. to protect the client-therapist relationship
  • 2.      The word ethics mean:  a. it’s the law to pay me for the work that I do  b. it’s a rule that we all have to live by  c. it’s a license to practice in the State of Florida  d. it’s basic principles of right and wrong
  • 3.      The word principle means:  a set of moral standards  b. rules of conduct  c. a basic truth  d. all of the above
  • 4.      The Code of Ethics offers the massage therapist the following:  a. clear cut guidelines on how to act professionally  b. a formal dress code  c. a formal education  d. a professional document to hang in their office
  • 5.      Some ethical rule may include which of the following sentences:  a. give a good massage  b. work within the scope of your practice  c. ask your client out on a date  d. diagnose your client’s condition if their physician can’t
  • 6.      A good therapist will:  a. refrain from making inappropriate joke  b. not tell their clients to stop taking their medications  c. advertise truthfully and honestly  d. all of the above
  • 7.      A good therapist will not:  a. be on time for appoints  b. accept gifts from clients  c. return phone calls  d. reschedule appointments if ill  
  • 8.      Transference is the act of:  a. transferring emotions by the client to the therapist.  b. transferring of money to your bank account.  c. transferring emotions by the therapist to your client.  d. transferring negative reactions back and forth in a session.
  • 9.      Countertransference is the act of:  a. transferring emotions by the client to the therapist.  b. transferring of money to your bank account.  c. transferring emotions by the therapist to your client.  d. transferring negative reactions back and forth in a session.
  • 10.  A set of activities that is defined by the professional’s training, law and regulations as to what a therapists can, and cannot do in a session is called:  a. code of ethics  b. scope of practice  c. professional ethics  d. professional boundaries 

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Cost: $10 for Medical Errors-2 ce's.