Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2017

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 35 HEART OF BODYWORK best practices What Happens if You're Accused of an Ethics Violation? By Laura Allen Having a complaint filed against you with the massage board (or worse, being charged with a criminal action) is something no massage therapist wants to happen. During my five years of service on our state board, I participated in many disciplinary hearings where a therapist had been accused of inappropriate behavior. My question to myself during these hearings was always the same: Did the therapist have the intention of doing something evil, or did they make a stupid mistake due to a momentary lapse in judgment? The following questions will help you determine whether an action may lead you down the wrong path. These questions can help you avoid doing harm to clients, to your relationship with clients, to your reputation, and to the reputation of the profession. • Would this action take advantage of the power, affection, or goodwill that clients give me because of my role (transference)? • Would it violate the client's privacy or confidentiality? • Would it create a dual relationship (a relationship with the client outside that of client and practitioner) and, therefore, make the professional relationship less clear? • Would it exceed the boundaries of the original implied contract—going beyond either my area of expertise or what the client has agreed on? • Would it be an exception to my usual policies? • Regardless of how an action appears to me or my client, would it look inappropriate to others? • Would the action be disrespectful of the client? During a disciplinary hearing, the accused and the accuser present their sides of the story and may offer witnesses, including character witnesses, and have the right to have their own attorney present. Hearings are open to the public. Board members review the evidence presented, and the result usually comes down to who has the most credible story. The board vote does not have to be unanimous; a majority vote for guilt or innocence is the rule. Disciplinary actions may include ordering the therapist to attend extra hours of ethics classes or other education, a fine, a suspension, or loss of license. Disciplinary actions are publicly posted on board websites. No one wants this to happen to them, and in fairness, not everyone who is accused is guilty. For ABMP members, adhering to their Code of Ethics is essential ( Following it precisely greatly reduces your chances of being accused due to careless mistakes. Laura Allen is the massage division director of Soothing Touch. A licensed massage therapist, she is an accomplished author and educator. Allen resides in Western North Carolina with her husband, Champ, also a licensed massage therapist. Contact her at Editor's note: In 2017, we are delighted to print excerpts from Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, 4th edition. Nina was a longtime Massage & Bodywork columnist. Prior to her death, she handed her work over to Laura Allen who's created this new 2016 edition (adapted with permission from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins). Mari Gayatri Stein's illustrations enrich each edition of the text; she died March 2, 2017.

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