These trained healthcare providers have strict professional guidelines, just as other practitioners do
If you’re studying to be a massage therapist, one of the courses you may take during your training covers law and ethics as they pertain to the field of massage. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork both direct these guidelines, which suggest how a therapist should interact with his or her client in professional settings.
It can be helpful to have an overview of these guidelines, no matter where you are in your training—or even if you’re just considering massage therapy as a potential career field. They paint a picture of the profession, and you should be comfortable with the parameters they lay out.
In 2010, the AMTA made effective the code of ethics that is summarized here. (You may also want to review the original document in its entirety). There are two sections: principles of ethics, and rules of ethics.
Principles of Ethics
These are “aspirational and inspirational” standards of conduct, to which all practitioners should strive. These principles require that massage therapists:
- provide the highest quality massage therapy.
- acknowledge each person’s “inherent worth and individuality,” by guarding against discrimination or prejudice with any client or colleague.
- do regular self-assessment, to determine one’s own “strengths, limitations, and effectiveness,” and then seek education and training as needed.
- maintain confidentiality and respect each client’s right to privacy (as the law permits)
- uphold the highest standards of professionalism
- accept responsibility to “do no harm” to a client’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being—or to one’s self, or to one’s colleagues.
Rules of Ethics
These represent the minimum requirements with regards to professional conduct. Violations of these rules would subject a member of the AMTA to disciplinary action. These rules require that massage therapists:
- “Conduct all business and professional activities within their scope of practice and all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”
- “Refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their clients in the course of a massage therapy session.”
- “Be truthful in advertising and marketing, and refrain from misrepresenting his or her services, charges for services, credentials, training, experience, ability or results.”
- “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.”
- “Refrain from engaging in any activity which would violate confidentiality commitments and/or proprietary rights of AMTA or any other person or organization.”
We hope that this overview of the AMTA Code of Ethics provides a framework for the profession that is useful in your training—or as you being your process of exploring career options. Massage therapy is a healthcare role that assumes a high level or responsibility for clients, and practitioners should be prepared to take these responsibilities seriously.
This article is part of the Salter School’s weekly blog. We support both our current and prospective students and their efforts to reach professional as well as personal goals. Learn more about the career training programs we offer by reaching out to us for more information.