Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2017

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When a female client is lying face down on the table, there is no legitimate reason for the therapist to make contact with her breasts. Often, when a woman lies prone, the sides of her breasts extend a few inches out to the side, so it takes conscious awareness and care to avoid touching them. When working on the client's back, a therapist may knowingly (with malicious intent) or unknowingly (because of poor training) bring their hands close to the treatment table and run them over the sides of the breasts. This is never acceptable. When the therapist's hands move down from the top of the client's shoulders and return to the low back, they should be on the edges of the back (Images A and B), but never low enough to touch the sides of the breasts. If the therapist makes contact with the side of the breast, the client may feel confused about what happened. In many of the massage-related sexual abuse cases I see as an expert witness, the victim reports wondering whether the touch was accidental or intentional, or even something she just imagined. Make sure your clients are never left with any doubts and always be meticulous with the paths your hands travel during a session. Ben Benjamin, PhD, is an expert in the massage profession and has authored many articles on professional ethics and co-authored Ethics of Touch (Sohnen-Moe Associates, 2013). Benjamin has taught courses in ethics, boundaries, and communication to somatic therapists for more than 25 years. He can be contacted at drben@benbenjamin.com or www.benbenjamin.com. How to Avoid Touching the Breasts in the Prone Position By Ben Benjamin, PhD digital extra A B

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