It's Time to Reward Yourself
An interesting study recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) confirms what we all learned when we were children – and serves as food for thought as to how you can improve your practice and your personal life.
X-Ray: To Be or Not to Be - That Is the Question
For the past year, I have been asked by many practicing chiropractors, college presidents, faculty and others what my opinion is on the "Choosing Wisely" guidelines the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recently adopted for its members.
Lead Patients to the Fountain (and Foundation) of Youth
We're all seeking the fountain of youth and marketers are capitalizing on it. (Global demand for anti-aging products, treatments and services was valued at 140.3 billion in 2015, according to Zion Market Research.)
Depression & The Secondary Vessels
As an acupuncturist I see many people suffering from depression. I often think depression is the major imbalance of our culture. I have a patient I've been working with for several years. Her major challenge is chronic stubborn depression.
Neck Pain: Activation Exercises
In observing patients and studying rehab, I have learned that tight muscles are weak muscles and that stretching is sometimes less effective than muscular activation. There is a delicate balance between joints that move too little and joints that are hypermobile.
The Science Behind the Efficacy of Cosmetic Acupuncture
The beauty industry continues to boom and grow constantly, from topical creams, lotions and potions all the way to cutting edge cosmetic surgeries.
More Access to Chiropractic Instead of Opioids: H.R. 5722
With the opioid epidemic both an ongoing public health crisis and a hot topic extending well beyond the health care industry, Congress continues stepping up to the plate.
Vaccine Injury? The Autism Debate (Part 2)
As suggested in my first article on this topic [August 2018],1 my impression is that the vaccine authoritarians and radicals have not helped to mold a proper social / political environment for addressing the issue of vaccine injury.
Working for Someone Else: Know the Rules of the Game
Many of us decide to become acupuncturists because we are healers at heart and want to focus on treating patients, not because we want to own and operate a business. So we work for someone else, which can have great advantages, especially as a new graduate.
An Update From the Acupuncture Now Foundation
Since launching the Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF), our volunteer leadership has continued to work to achieve our vision of "Creating a World Where the Benefits of Acupuncture are Known and Available to All.
Bringing Acupuncture to Ohio
The jolt of seeing a woman conscious and talking during surgery left a lasting impression in 1971 when acupuncture was on the national news.
Multichannel Access: Software for a Better Customer Experience
It is no secret that today's consumer has high expectations when it comes to how and when they can contact a business. In fact, one of the reasons clinic management software has become so popular with acupuncture practitioners is they allows customers to book appointments and make payments online day or night.
The Importance of the Scapulohumeral Rhythm
The shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. What is often overlooked in shoulder mechanics is that motion in the shoulder is not purely at the glenohumeral joint.
"Don't Crack My Neck": What Do You Do Next?
It's Monday morning and your first new patient of the day, a 35-year-old female, presents with chronic headaches and neck pain. The patient was referred by her primary care provider for evaluation and management without the use of cervical manipulation.
A New NCCIH Director ... One That Backs Acupuncture
The third time is a charm—the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced it's newest director, Dr. Helene Langevin.
The Origin of Blood
The Roman doctor, Galen, (2nd century AD) did pivotal work to prove that blood, which he thought was produced by the liver, and the cardio vascular system existed. He conceived that the arteries and veins were two separate networks.
Possession: Blocks to Healing
Before we can approach treatment of a patient's primary elemental imbalance (AKA "Causative Factor" or "CF"), a number of specific energetic blocks must be considered and, if present, removed in order for treatment to be effective. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Your First Impression Always Deserves a Second Chance
Doctor, have you ever had a patient you just couldn't "warm up to"? You know, the kind of patient who "irks" you, who has a hidden agenda to get something you haven't anticipated, perhaps causing you to want to hide in a closet when they come in for treatment.
Support Patients With Multi-Channel Customer Service
It's no secret that today's consumers have high expectations when it comes to how and when they can contact a business. In fact, one of the reasons clinic management software has become so popular is that they allow patients to book appointments and make payments online day or night.
A Historic First for Chiropractic Assistants
The New Jersey State Board of Chiropractic Examiners will begin issuing licenses as early as Nov. 1, 2018 to chiropractic assistants who have undergone a 500-hour training course and passed a competency exam.
That's a Wrap: Compression Bands for Contemporary DCs
Over the past decade, compression bands have been increasingly utilized in trainer and manual therapy offices. I was first introduced to the compression band by Kelley Starrett, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard, and have since been using it as a teaching tool.
Time-Saving Tips for Your Practice & Life
Of all the finite resources we possess, perhaps the most valuable one is time. There never seems to be enough time to accomplish everything that must be done, and all too often we sacrifice things in our personal life to meet the demands of our practice.
Easy, Inexpensive Tools for a Successful Practice (I Promise)
Successful practitioners are the ones who know how to run a business, first and foremost. I became a licensed acupuncturist in 2006. After having worked in chiropractor's offices for nine years, I opened my own office in 2015: four treatment rooms, a back office and a waiting room.
Food for Thought: An Examination of Diet & Digestion
Even an acute poison can become an excellent drug if it is properly administered. On the other hand even a drug, if not properly administered, becomes an acute poison. — Charaka Samhita
The Benefits of Going Paperless
The benefits of going paperless in your practice are profound. If you haven't done it yet, here's why you should.
Chiropractic Management of Patellofemoral Arthralgia
Patient reports with pain in the front part of her right knee, especially during and after her weekly Zumba class. She states there has been no injury of which she is aware. No outward sign of injury is observed.
UHC Up to Its Old Tricks With Latest Headache Policy
A decade ago, UnitedHealthcare announced changes to its chiropractic services policy that declared manipulative therapy for headache unproven and ineligible for reimbursement.
The international standardization conference was held this year in Shanghai, China (June) - this was the ninth plenary session. Meetings for technical committees, or working groups also took place at the conference.
September, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 09
When a Client Crosses the Line
By Cherie Sohnen-Moe
The sexual assault allegations against Al Gore has elicited much commentary about clients crossing the line sexually. Regardless of the veracity of this particular claim, it is an important topic to explore in-depth.Some clients may "test the waters" about sexual services, while others blatantly cross the line. Massage practitioners must know how to appropriately deal with those situations.
A sexual boundary can be challenged physically, verbally or both. Many factors influence the impact this behavior has on a practitioner, such as the length of time the practitioner has been working, the practitioner's ability to manage boundaries, the practitioner's history of abuse, the setting in which the boundary challenge occurs, and the client's prominence.
Boundary Crossings vs Boundary Violations
Boundaries are contextual because they can change depending on the situation. Behavior that is deemed appropriate at one time may be highly offensive in another setting. A boundary crossing is a transgression that may or may not be experienced as harmful. Often it is a minute difference in degree that makes an action shift from being considered a boundary crossing to a violation. It is also relative: what is a mere boundary crossing to one person may be a major violation to another. A boundary violation is a harmful transgression of a boundary. Differentiating a boundary crossing from a violation needs to be done on a case-by-case basis taking into account the context and facts of the situation.
For instance, just because a male client has an erection doesn't necessarily mean that he has any intention of sexual misconduct. Men experience erections even when they are not necessarily emotionally desirous of sex (e.g. when they need to urinate). Touch, itself, on any part of the body can stimulate a physiological response that results in a partial or complete erection. In a therapeutic setting spontaneous erections are often uncomfortable for practitioners and clients. The difficulty lies in that many practitioners (both men and women) are uncomfortable or fearful when a client has an erectile response during a session.
Both male and female practitioners often either ignore or overreact to an erectile response, becoming passive or aggressive with the client in discussing the condition. Each of these responses puts the practitioner in a vulnerable position. If a practitioner is verbally aggressive about the erection or hurts the client physically to quell the erection, the practitioner is abusing the client. Worse, many practitioners learn in school to discourage erections by "pressing hard on certain points." There are more respectful, clear and safe ways to deal with erections in men and arousal in women, which we will discuss.
With a sexually inappropriate client the number and intensity of behaviors usually escalate. What starts out as "innocent" boundary crossings can easily become violations. Clients might tell a sexual joke, ask overly personal questions, talk about their other massage experiences (with innuendos of sexual interactions), discuss their sexuality, or repeatedly expose themselves (accidentally removing the draping). One or two episodes may be an accident, poor boundaries, or a lapse in judgement. Or this could be a prelude to a boundary violation. While these actions may truly be innocuous, they should not be ignored, particularly when combined with other verbal or nonverbal requests or innuendos.
It may be helpful to distinguish the context surrounding the behavior. What were the client's verbal and physical cues? Did the client watch to see the practitioner's reaction? Are the behaviors increasing in frequency or intensity?
If a client (male or female) is obviously sexually aroused, and shows no signs of discomfort or embarrassment through verbal and nonverbal cues, it's usually not necessary to talk to the client about the arousal. Sometimes a simple action of moving to a different part of the body is all that's needed. However, if the practitioner feels uncomfortable or the client displays other verbal or nonverbal behaviors that could indicate sexual intent, ensure safety by obtaining sufficient information to discern the intent--whether it is merely a physiological response to touch or part of sexual desire. Identifying sexual arousal in a woman can be difficult, yet practitioners also need to keep good boundaries with their female clients. Documented cases exist where female clients have crossed the line.
Actions to Take
The first thing to do when a client crosses the line is to break physical contact. If possible make eye contact. Make sure the client is properly covered. Stand in a relaxed yet grounded manner and use a firm voice. Maintain safety. If the client's behavior feels intimidating do not stay too close to the table and position yourself so that you have easy access to your exit door. Leave immediately if the client actively threatens you.
Talk with the client. Describe the inappropriate behavior, ask the client for feedback (this helps to clarify the client's intent), and set (or reset) your boundaries and requirements. The steps taken totally depend on the client's responses. For example:
Practitioner: This is the second time that you've moved in such a way that caused the draping to improperly expose your body. Can you tell me about it?
Potential Client Responses:
Corresponding Practitioner Responses:
If the client agrees to your request, the session can continue. If not, the session should be terminated. Sometimes after going through all the above steps, a client's intent is still unclear. If that's the case, tell the client that you will continue this session but will stop if s/he behaves in any way that does not work for you.
Keep in mind that your safety is of primary importance. Sometimes the most appropriate action to take is to end the session immediately without going through the above steps. Store your belongings (including a cell phone) in an easily accessible place in case you need to make a hasty escape. If you feel threatened, leave the room and call the appropriate authorities. If you are in a spa or clinic, then go directly to the front desk. If you are in a private office, leave the building. If you are doing an outcall session, leave the premises--you can return later, accompanied by someone, for your equipment and supplies.
Document the Incident
Always document incidents of sexual boundary crossings and violations, even if the incident was resolved through conversation. Describe what happened, what you did to address the matter, and the client's response. This is for your protection just in case the client decides to lodge a complaint against you. This might seem bizarre, but consider that if a client is willing to cross sexual boundaries, who knows what else that person might do. There are cases where massage practitioners have been accused of sexual misconduct when in reality the client acted inappropriately. The practitioner refused to provide the requested sexual services and the rebuffed client complained to management that the practitioner made a sexual proposition.
Healthy boundaries are vital to managing sexual boundary crossings and violations. Sometimes strong boundaries can help prevent the "testing of the waters" from escalating into a sexual violation. Other times healthy boundaries include knowing when to leave.
One of the best ways to develop boundary skills in this area is to role-play scenarios. This is particularly important if you have a history of sexual abuse as practicing can help you avoid going into a dissociated state and "freezing."
Work through a variety of situations from the flirtatious client, to the client who makes questionable comments, to the client who asks inappropriate questions, to the sexually aroused client, to the client who is attempting sexual congress. If you are a student, this should be part of your training. If you are no longer a student, get together with colleagues and role-play. The more you practice dealing with these situations, the more adept you will be if they occur.
Next time, we will explore prevention techniques and ways to desexualize the touch experience.
Editor's note to readers: Tell us of your experiences in dealing with clients who have crossed the line. Let us know what happened, how you handled the situation and/or what you wish you would have done. Your letters and e-mails will be reviewed for possible publication in Massage Today print and online editions. If you would prefer to be left "anonymous," please indicate this in your letter. E-mail us at or mail to Massage Today, 5406 Bolsa Avenue, Huntington Beach CA 92649.
Click here for previous articles by Cherie Sohnen-Moe.
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