Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Professional Practice

Professional Practice: Ethics
Victoria Walden
Due date 14th of August

Reflect on ethical principles relevant to massage practice:

Within a Massage Practice ethical principles are put in place to ensure the emotional and mental safety of client and practitioner.

The core ethical concepts are:
- The therapeutic relationship
- Client-centred care
- Power differentials
- Transference
- Counter-transference

The therapeutic relationship:

Benjamin states that in a therapeutic relationship there is a power differential, also that each person in the relationship has a clear role, the environment is safe and that the time spent together between therapist and client is structured.

I feel this, sums up the difference between personal and therapeutic/professional relationship.

The relationship between client and therapist is also stated by Massage New Zealand in their “Code of Ethics”:

• A practitioner shall endeavour to serve the best interests of their clients at all times and
to provide the highest quality service possible.
• A practitioner shall at all times respect the confidence of their client, and diagnostic
finding acquired during consultation and/or treatment shall not be divulged to anyone
without the client’s consent, except when required by law or where failure to do so
would constitute a menace or danger to the client or another member of the community.
• A practitioner shall not enter into an intimate or sexual relationship with a patient whilst
the patient is under their care.

(Massage New Zealand, 2009).

This ethical principle/boundaries put in place for massage therapists gives an outline of the expectations that the massage therapist needs to obey by to conform with; Massage New Zealand’s standards and also to ensure the safety of the client and practitioner.

Client-centred care:

“Client-centred means that every action that the practitioner takes is in the service of the clients needs and not the practitioners needs” (Benjamin & Sohnen-Moe, 2003).

Client-centred care also means that the client must consent to any treatment before massage can begin. Through this step it gives the client a voice and the power to say ‘no’. This is an ethical principle that all practitioner take on board as the client at this stage is vulnerable and exposed when client as consented to massage the power changes from client to practitioner.

Power differential:

Within the massage practice there will be in most cases a power differential where the therapist holds the most power. This is because of the client allowing the practitioner into their space when sitting, lying down also not fully clothed. The client giving permission to the practitioner to massage shifts the power literally putting the safety and wellbeing of the client in their hands.

“To maintain an ethical practice, the person in power must regulary say “no” to something she could easily get and must instead choose to pay attention to the needs of the person with less power” (Benjamin & Sohnen-Moe, 2003).

The practitioner must maintain the respect and integrity of all clients’ boundaries when they are in a vulnerable state during massage practice.


“Transference is the personalization of the professional relationship by the client” (Fritz, 2004).

Transference in a massage practice is where the client may demand more of the therapist’s time, bring them gifts, attempt to engage the professional in personal conversation, propose friendship or sexual activity or an expression of anger and blame towards the practitioner.

“Transference occurs when the client sees the therapist in a personal light instead of a professional manner” (Fritz, 2004).

The ethical principles have been put in place to stop this situation from occurring therefore in this case the practitioner needs to clearly state the professional relationship to reinforce the ethical boundaries. Also to refer client to the appropriate professional to help them.

Counter-transference is the opposite of transference where the practitioner has attached their personal feelings into the professional environment of their practice.

Ethical principles are put in place to limit this sort of inappropriate behaviour from client or practitioner.

Massage New Zealand has in place “Code of Ethics”, Established above and also sates professionalism, scope of practice/ appropriate techniques and image/advertising claims.

Each massage practice should take pride in their service, honesty, treatment, professionalism; respect for others and also for the practitioner themselves.

Obeying the ethical boundaries that have been enforced will improve the practice of a massage therapy business.


Benjamin, B & Sohnen-Moe, C. (2003). The Ethics of Touch. (SMA Inc., Tucson, Ariz., 2003.)

Massage New Zealand. (2009). Code of Ethics. Retrieved, August, 13th, 2009, from

McQuillan ,D. Elluminate August 12th,13th 2009. Professional Practice 2.

My Own Thoughts

Fritz, S. (2004). Mosby’s fundamentals of therapeutic massage, (3rd ed.). Missouri: Mosby.

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