Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 31 What do you do when a client acts inappropriately? Do you ignore it, throw them out of the office, and/ or blast it on social media? Is there a difference in the way you handle an inappropriate comment or action from a client on the table and someone you've never met before who calls or texts blatantly looking for sex? I was at a state massage board meeting when a therapist who did hotel outcalls asked if she should warn other therapists about a client who propositioned her for sex. The board's attorney stated it would be a violation of confidentiality. My own opinion was that the client lost the right to confidentiality when they decided to solicit sex for money, which is illegal in itself, but the attorney didn't interpret the law that way. I frequently see massage therapists sharing screenshots of text messages and phone numbers on social media from people who contacted them seeking sexual services. The text may or may not be blatant, ranging from "Do you do full-body massage?" to "Is it OK if I'm not draped?" to "How much for a happy ending?" or the old standard, "I have a groin injury." Posting about these texts or phone calls on Facebook may soothe your indignance—and you might feel you're doing colleagues a favor—but your warning is probably not going to stop the problem. These people will be just as blatant when they contact the next person. What about a client who was inappropriate on the table? Blasting their name on social media is not a wise idea. It's your word against theirs. Without text messages to back it up—and assuming you don't have a video camera in the treatment room—you don't have proof such a thing transpired, and you could wind up being sued for slander if you make a public accusation. If you are physically assaulted (which doesn't have to be violent) or a client puts their hands on you, that is assault, and you have every right to report them to the police. If it wasn't assault, but their actions (or words) were enough to make you uncomfortable, address it immediately and end the session. Some massage therapists think they should report an inappropriate client to the massage board, but no state board accepts these complaints; they only have authority over their licensees, not over the general public. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition. Allen lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. Telling Colleagues About Inappropriate Clients Ethical or Not? By Laura Allen best practices | HEART OF BODYWORK My own opinion was that the client lost the right to confidentiality when they decided to solicit sex for money, which is illegal in itself, but the attorney didn't interpret the law that way.

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