Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2010

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ethics and etiquette BY TERRIE YARDLEY-NOHR DISCLOSURE The word disclosure as used in the health-care professions refers to sharing information. Clients disclose personal information to MTs about their health, therapists disclose information to clients about the treatments and modalities they use, and therapists may also disclose information about a client to a third party, such as an insurance company. Disclosure involves several ethical issues. Using a client's information only in a safe and ethical manner is an important principle bodyworkers should safeguard and maintain. To practice ethically, it is equally essential to give correct information to clients about their treatment and the modalities to be used in a session. CLIENT DISCLOSURE When new or potential clients call to book an appointment, they generally do not think about the information they may need to share with the MT before receiving a massage. Clients typically are thinking of the benefits they will receive from the bodywork, such as relaxation or pain relief. But the benefits often depend on the MT having certain kinds of information about the client. Bodyworkers ask complete strangers to disclose a great deal of personal information about their health history before a session begins. Most therapists have the client fill out a health history form that asks about medication, surgeries and injuries, their current and past state of health, and what complaints brought them to the session. Clients who regularly receive massage are familiar with an intake form and have come to know the importance of disclosing health information for effective treatment, but new clients may feel uncomfortable disclosing their personal health information. A therapist needs to explain and educate clients on the importance of this information for effective treatment. Clients may not disclose information for several reasons: they aren't comfortable sharing the information, they don't think 104 massage & bodywork september/october 2010 certain information is relevant, or they may simply forget to disclose the information. Clients may also refuse to disclose something because they feel the information is private. Personal issues may be involved, such as past abuse or disturbing emotional memories associated with a condition. Clients may also need time to develop trust in a therapist before disclosing personal information. This information may or may not affect the massage treatment being given. For example, a person being treated for depression may feel her massage therapist does not need to know. Clients need to feel comfortable with disclosing information. A therapist can help this process by talking with a client before the session begins. Allowing extra time for a new client interview will help clients feel more at ease, too. During the interview process, subtle hints are usually given and the therapist can dig a bit deeper to gather information that could be useful for treatment. Medications are a frequent area that may not be fully disclosed. A client who discloses that she is using painkillers or blood thinners may need further evaluation before treatment begins or may need to be rescheduled for another time. Explaining the need and use of the information helps clients understand that it's in their best interest for an effective treatment. Another concern for clients may be that too many people will have access to their personal information. It is important for clients to know that their information will be kept confidential. Disclosure of medical information to other parties should only be done with the client's written permission and for good cause, such

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