Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2019

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We think therapists get into trouble ethically when they feel very comfortable initiating a hug to end the session. That brings up the question: Who is this contact for, the client or the therapist? Kate had a client who shared with her that he would not continue to see a colleague of hers because she hugged him at the end of the session, and he was not comfortable with that. For him, it felt like a violation of his boundaries. There are certain clients for whom a hug is a routine at the end of the session. They like to have a hug, and we are more than happy to oblige, but we wait for their initiation. If for any reason you are not comfortable with a hug, you may wish to think about how you will approach that before the situation presents itself. Consider what your physical stance will be and how you will end the session warmly, but without contact. Sometimes with young children we will have the ritual of a hug at the end of their sessions. One of the reasons we started offering them hugs is that we found once we ended Often, clients are sharing something for the first time, and they are taking a chance to trust us. We may be accustomed to this level of therapeutic connection, but it could be new for our clients. Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 77 be a place where clients get confused because there is deep sharing, and so it is vital that we honor our client's vulnerability by having clarity around our therapeutic role. TOUCH OUTSIDE SESSION WORK Our work involves touch, and the boundaries between touch as therapy and touch that conveys more than a therapeutic relationship can be tricky. We need to honor our own boundaries, communicate those clearly and kindly, and, above all, do our very best not to violate our clients' boundaries. One common dilemma we have encountered and heard about from our colleagues is how to approach hugging. It is not uncommon for clients and therapists to share a hug at the end of a session. Do you know where you stand on this issue? The close of a session is still the session, so the work is continuing, and therefore we want any action we take to be centered on the client's well-being. Ethical Standards

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