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To be effective, most of the policies and actions described in these guidelines must be put in place and done authentically— with honesty and sincerity. They should not just be incorporated as lip service to prevent lawsuits, but consciously implemented to protect the clients you serve, as well as the therapists you have hired. Often, I've seen policies and procedures that look good on paper but aren't followed up on by clinics, owners, managers, franchisees, or franchisors. Guidelines and rules are meaningless if they are not enforced. Once these measures are put in place, the way to avoid harm to your business and its reputation is to document how you met or exceeded the industry standards. Although it might seem like a lot of work, it is worth investing the time to clearly put in writing all of your policies, procedures, hiring processes, and training. Also, always document your verbal and practical interviews with clear notes, and safely store them in each practitioner's personnel fi le until three years after their employment ends. This will protect not only your business, but also your therapists and clientele in the long run. Just one lawsuit can tie you up in court for years. The resulting stress and expense can be incredibly draining physically, emotionally, and fi nancially. The following is a detailed list of steps you can take to adhere to the safest standards of practice in massage therapy. Many of the suggested processes have T hese sexual assault prevention guidelines provide a road map for massage clinics, day spas, franchisors, franchisees, or those looking to expand their solo practice to maximize the safety of both clients and therapists and minimize the risk of sexual assault. Additionally, if you are a massage therapist looking for a job in a massage clinic or spa—or a client looking for the safest spa to go to for a massage—these guidelines will give you the knowledge to help you decide which type of business to work with. (These guidelines are also valuable for any practitioner who needs a refresher in therapist-client interaction, ethics, and protocols.) Standards of care in the massage therapy profession and health care in general develop and evolve over time. Comprehensive and strong models are then followed by the most ethical and professionally led massage clinics and spas, both large and small. While adhering to standards of practice may not fully eliminate the risk of sexual misconduct, it puts in place safeguards that greatly reduce the likelihood of sexual assault or inappropriate behavior. It gives the business the tools to weed out therapists with poor boundaries and predatory tendencies. These safeguards include a rigorous screening and hiring process, thorough orientation and training of new therapists about the culture and values of your business, ongoing supervision of therapists to spot problems before they escalate, and inviting honest feedback from clients through regular email surveys. Sexual Assault Prevention Guidelines By Dr. Ben Benjamin See these past articles from the series in Massage & Bodywork • Part 1, "How to Avoid Client Injuries," May/June 2021, page 64 • Part 2, "How to Avoid Violating Client Boundaries," July/August 2021, page 70 SCAN AND GET ADDITIONAL RESOURCES 1. Open your camera 2. Scan the code 3. Tap on notification 4. Watch! additional information or templates you can use in your business. Find all these resources at VERBAL INTERVIEW A skilled interviewer should ask every massage therapist applicant the same set of interview questions, including some challenging ones, as well as run through six or seven role-play scenarios. Role playing often gives you more information and insight beyond just asking questions. A thorough interview should take between 30 and 60 minutes. Effective interviewing is not easy, but rather a skill that can be learned and will greatly benefi t your business. Take detailed notes on the verbal interview so that it is clear why you hired the interviewee or not. Questions should address the applicant's understanding of boundaries and communication skills, in addition to the standard questions about customer service, modalities they are skilled at, and the number of hours they can work. (Additional resources: see "25 Verbal Interview Questions," and "Role-Play with Prospective Employees" at keeping-clients-safe.)

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