Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2010

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ethics and etiquette BY TERRIE YARDLEY-NOHR NURTURE PROFESSIONAL NETWORKS Throughout your career as a massage therapist, you work with a variety of individuals, both inside and outside the profession. It is important to understand the complexities of these relationships and how working with others affects your own success. Although you usually work one-on-one with clients, other professionals can help your own growth and contribute to your success as a practitioner. From the time you enrolled in massage school, you began to build a crucial network of business contacts. Whether you work on your own or become an employee in a spa or franchise setting, it is important to realize the value of continuing to develop relationships throughout your career. If you are a student, you are wise to tell your friends, doctors, family members, and local business people that you are in school learning bodywork. These people may be instrumental in helping you find work once you graduate or at other points during your career. Professional relationships should be handled with the utmost of care. You never know where an opportunity may be waiting for you. Think of each person you meet as a potential client or connection to a great job opportunity. You will also begin to deliberately develop peer relationships. For example, if you like the chiropractic office where you have been a patient and would like to build your practice in this type of setting, you can begin to develop a good relationship with the doctor and his staff. BUILD A NETWORK As your practice grows, you'll need professional alliances—health care providers with whom you can network, refer, and consult during your career. Begin by looking to people you already know (such as your doctor or physical therapist) and branch out to include qualified allied practitioners in your area. Options include crisis centers and support groups, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists and counselors, and other massage therapists with different specialties. There will be instances where you refer a client to someone else and once they finish the referred treatment, they will return to you. If you refer a client to another health care provider, there is a possibility the client may not return. It is important to do what is best for the client. Clients have the right to choose their treatment and they should never be put in an uncomfortable situation between two providers. Keeping alliances professional and strong between referring parties can help eliminate potential conflicts. ETHICAL BEHAVIOR Once you realize the potential for developing professional relationships, you have a heightened sensitivity to the importance of ethical behavior in everything you do. You have the potential to make a good impression—or a bad one. For example, if you talk about other professionals in a negative manner while you are with a client, the focus of the session is elsewhere. Personal opinions are best kept to yourself. Clients will ask your opinion about a variety of subjects beyond the realm of bodywork including nutrition, medications, a medical diagnosis, or your thoughts about other health care providers. Consider the following before answering clients' questions: 1. What relationship do you have with the other individual who is being discussed? 2. Is it within your scope of practice to advise the client on this subject? 3. Could this client be harmed if you do not answer the question? 4. What harm could come to you if you give advice? 5. Is the information you have to share objective? If it's subjective, should you emphasize to the client that it is subjective? 104 massage & bodywork may/june 2010

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