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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 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 29 A frequent complaint from therapists who work as employees is that their employer is not supportive when it comes to maintaining ethical boundaries. When seeking a job, it's vitally important that you ask questions about company policies and how they're enforced. You should ask questions during the job interview; you can't make assumptions that an employer agrees with you on ethical issues. Many workplace owners are not massage therapists; they're businesspeople. And some may not be clear that massage therapists have a code of ethics to follow. There are also employers who are aware, but who don't back that up with supportive actions. Most employers require employees to sign a contract when they're hired. Read it carefully before signing on the dotted line, and question anything that isn't clear to you. If there are no policies in writing, that's a red flag. One recurring complaint I hear is that some employers expect employees to tolerate inappropriate sexual behavior and/or comments from clients, or have the lax attitude of "just handle it yourself." In reality, you are working in the employer's business, and management should not expect employees to be the one to dismiss a client or tell them not to come back. If management doesn't handle a problem client, and the therapist ends the session and asks them to leave, there's no guarantee the client won't come back and behave inappropriately with another therapist next time. Be sure you know how those situations are handled before agreeing to accept employment. Another frequent issue is contraindications. Particularly in cases where the employer/business owner is not a licensed therapist, they may lack knowledge of when there is a valid reason not to give a massage, to refuse deep work on a client who shouldn't receive it, or to refuse hot stone massage on a client who has peripheral neuropathy. The business owner may have the expectation that all customers are to receive what they want, whether it's safe for them or not. Therapists have the right of refusal, and the obligation to first, do no harm. It's wise to question the potential employer about whether you have the autonomy to decide when or what type of massage is appropriate and safe for the client. Remember, the general public is not educated about massage contraindications and cautions, which is why we must be. There are both benefits and pitfalls to being an employee. In order to protect ourselves, we have to be sure what we're signing up for and be sure we're a good fit for the business—and that the business is a good fit for us. 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. Ethical Boundaries Do They Exist for Employees? By Laura Allen best practices | HEART OF BODYWORK Most employers require employees to sign a contract when they're hired. Read it carefully before signing on the dotted line.

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