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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's 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 . 29 HEART OF BODYWORK best practices Each time I teach a class, I ask for a show of hands of how many therapists have read the entire Massage Therapy Practice Act and related documents. In a class of 20 people, there are usually only two or three who raise their hands. My next question is, "How can you abide by the law when you don't even know what it is?" While most regulated states require massage schools to teach ethics and inform students of the laws they will be subject to as licensees, that is not the same thing as everyone paying attention to it. Jurisprudence questions pertaining to individual states are not included on the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), so many students don't worry about learning or retaining that information. That's a mistake. During the five years I served on my state's massage board, I heard many massage therapists who were brought in for disciplinary action use the excuse "I didn't know there was a law about that," which is no excuse. It is your responsibility as a licensee to know the law, whether it was taught in your school or not. For example, a massage therapist on the North Carolina Massage Therapists' Facebook page was offering other therapists $20 to refer clients to her for lymphatic drainage. That's illegal. In some jurisdictions, it's also illegal to offer a client any kind of reward for referrals, including discounts, free massage, or even extra time added to a purchased massage. It's considered a kickback. I personally experienced visiting a massage therapist I'd never seen before who didn't ask me to fill out an intake form or sign an informed consent form. That's illegal. Her "intake form" was an index card she asked me to write my name and phone number on. Her sole intake interview question was "What's bothering you today?" No questions about my health history and no concern for any possible contraindications for massage. Yes, I called her out on it. When you apply for a massage license, the application states that you will adhere to the laws of your state and uphold the code of ethics, and you are ascertaining with your signature that you agree to do so. Signing the application without actually reading the law is equivalent to breaking it before your career even gets started . . . not ethical, and not a good beginning for your practice. 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. Professional Ethics and the Law By Laura Allen

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