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Massage Today
June, 2007, Vol. 07, Issue 06

Accountability to the Profession

By Dixie Wall, Contributing Editor

Ethics are dictating principles that reflect one's moral values. These values arise from an innate sense of right and wrong. Practicing according to this intuitive sense brings integrity to our personal and professional lives.

The same ethical policies pave the road to success for the massage profession. How we conduct ourselves as therapists directly impacts the progress and reputation of the massage and bodywork profession as a whole.

This discussion includes internal accountability (integrity and honesty in practice) and external accountability (advancing the profession as a whole). Use the following to guide you in your practice:

  1. Always work diligently to promote the highest standards of care. Stay focused on the client's best interest and concentrate on how you can best serve the needs of your clients and the massage profession as a whole.
  2. Provide honest and accurate information on all records and applications regarding licensure and certification.
  3. Know all local, county and state regulations pertaining to massage and bodywork and adhere to all legal guidelines.
  4. Continue to study and apply any new developments in your profession by joining a professional association to make relevant information available to clients.
  5. Wear appropriate clothing during consultations and massage/bodywork sessions. Therapists always must dress to convey professionalism. Clothing that is sexually suggestive is never appropriate.
  6. Strive for professionalism by staying within the scope of practice, always being honest, and never be misleading to clients and/or third parties about treatments performed or the results of those treatments.

The massage and bodywork profession has come a long way in the last two decades, becoming a leading alternative therapy. Currently, 37 states have passed laws to standardize the massage profession, each establishing a unique set of rules to regulate the profession by licensure, certification or registration. As professionals, we must know and respect the laws and regulations in our jurisdiction and be honest in all applications. In establishing a standard protocol to practice, the reputation of massage therapy will be amplified.

The massage and bodywork profession has come a long way in the last two decades, becoming a leading alternative therapy.

Uniform laws and regulations have set a standard of care that the public can trust. By working with our legislators, we change and utilize these laws to promote bodywork within our communities. Staying informed on the progression of laws and regulations in our jurisdiction is vital. We must stay active in the political processes that dictate the guidelines shaping our procedures and the quality of our care.

By participating in the development of these laws, we gain not only the respect of the public and the government but the respect of other health care professionals, as well. This respect builds a convenient way for doctors, acupuncturists and chiropractors to refer their patients to us with confidence. Creditability and trust between massage practitioners and other health care professionals is strengthened with a state-regulated license.

Along with a formal license or statewide certification, joining a professional association and being nationally certified leads to further accreditation as therapists. Regular meetings and participation in seminars and conventions is a great way to stay updated with colleagues and exchange ideas or concerns with other practitioners. Frequent communication of personal successes and failures among associates will continue the advancement of the massage profession.

Furthermore, we communicate professionally through our image. This includes several things in practice such as the way we dress, our attitude and our body language. The way we dress is a powerful, non verbal communicator. A cotton, collared shirt and long shorts or pants seem to work best to move freely and stay cool. A uniform dress code or color for your business also is helpful to identify yourself and portray a sense of respect for one's client and business.

Along with a dress code, a routine process in practice is important. Following a routine can produce the mental conditioning for a comfortable transition into receiving bodywork for the client. Greeting clients in the office and on the phone with politeness and honest concern is always best. Creating a specific tradition in the procedures of treatment promotes a confidence in our abilities and an assurance in our instructions. After all, most successful health care professions follow routine procedures within their area of expertise.

Massage and bodywork therapy has become a respected leader in alternative health care and continues to gain popularity in the public eye. Staying within the scope of practice and not performing any procedures outside our area of proficiency also is crucial to our reputation as professionals. We must never make false promises to our clients about treatment results or products and referrals that will not help them. We must continue to make the right ethical choices to succeed individually and for the profession to prosper as a whole.


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