Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2020

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HEART OF BODYWORK best practices I frequently hear complaints about employers who do not give therapists time to conduct proper intakes and fill out postsession notes, or worse, they do not require them at all. In regulated states, having a client fill out an intake form, conducting an interview, and having the client sign a consent form prior to receiving a massage are not just business practices—these practices are the law, as is keeping treatment notes on each session. The therapist is by law obligated to do so, no matter what the business owner or manager says (so if you work in such a place, be sure to prominently place this column where the owner/manager will see it). Performing proper intakes and filling out postsession notes is the only ethical way to conduct business— whether it is the law in your state or not—and some states require establishments to be licensed, as well as the individual therapists. An owner can be held just as responsible for law violations as the MT. If you work alone, you are not excused either. One such therapist asked me, "Why should I keep notes? I do the same thing on everybody." First, I feel sorry for her clients, and second, it is still the law. Massaging a client without an intake is taking a chance that they have contraindications, and you could cause harm. You need to know your client's health history, active or recent illnesses, ongoing treatments, chronic conditions, recent surgeries, and whether there are any areas to avoid, etc. Informed consent is not as cut-and-dried as "I consent to receive a massage." For example, a client specifically requests light massage. You find a few knotty places and start digging. Or you throw in energy work, and add an essential oil you personally like because you think, "She needs this." As one client related, while she was prone, the therapist suddenly started using an electric massager on her back without saying anything about it. She considered it very unpleasant and was upset that he had not previously discussed it. The client booked a light massage and signed a consent form. She did not bargain for the thumbs digging into the rhomboids, she is sensitive to strong smells, and she did not ask for energy work or a surprise electric massage. Conduct an intake. Get informed consent. Honor what the client asked for. Take notes. It is that simple. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and a provider of continuing education classes since 2000. She is the author of numerous books and articles, including the fifth edition of The Educated Heart, which Nina McIntosh entrusted to her before her passing. Allen resides in Western North Carolina with her husband, James Clayton, and her two rescue dogs, Fido and Queenie. Intake, Informed Consent, Treatment Notes By Laura Allen N e w ! A B M P P o c k e t P a t h o l o g y a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / a b m p - p o c k e t - p a t h o l o g y - a p p . 27 ABMP has sample intake, treatment, and physician forms available online for members at www.abmp.com/ members/business- management/ client-forms.

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