Zero Tolerance

Background

The College of Massage Therapist of Ontario recognizes the seriousness and extent of injury that sexual abuse and other forms of abuse cause the client and others related to the client and therefore supports zero tolerance of any form of abuse: verbal, physical, emotional, financial or sexual, by a Massage Therapist.

The College accepts responsibility to protect the public interest by addressing client abuse openly, striving to provide accessible and sensitive reporting process, and establishing deterrents through the administration of a disciplines process reflecting the serious nature of the violation.

This policy has been created to advise the membership that the College endorses the principle of zero tolerance for any form of abuse of a client and to ensure members understand that abuse in any form is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

In defining abuse, it is important for the professional to be cognizant of the imbalance of power that exists in the client/professional relationship. Clients often seek professional services when they are vulnerable or in a state of pain. A member of the profession has the ‘power’ by virtue of their authority, knowledge, access to privileged information and the influence they potentially hold over the client, to exploit. It is expected, therefore, that the professional will address the client’s needs in a sensitive and caring manner in accordance with the Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics for the profession.

Abuse Can be Defined as:

Verbal

Verbal abuse may include rude, sarcastic, demeaning or seductive remarks. It is also important to note that the tone of verbal communications will also characterize how words are perceived. members of the profession must be aware that age, culture, socio-economic status and particular sensitivities affect how a client may perceive communications with a member.

Physical

Using unnecessary force in the course of providing treatment.

Emotional

Where a member of the profession uses the position of power to intimidate or show insensitivity toward the client. Emotional abuse demeans clients in such a way as to lower their sense of personal worth.

Financial

The inappropriate use of a client’s funds, property or resources. May include such behaviours:

  • Attempting to, or actually persuading, tricking, or threatening the client to part with their funds, property or possessions;
  • Recommending excessive treatments with no clinical indication requiring the same; and
    Use of a client’s money for purposes other than that intended by the client.

Sexual

The RHPA defines sexual abuse to include:

  • Sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the member and the patient.
    by touching of a sexual nature, of the patient by a member, or;
  • behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by the member towards the patient.

Exception: “sexual nature” does not include touching, behaviour or remarks of a clinical nature appropriate to the service provided.

Policy

The College will investigate and act upon any complaints and information received dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and other forms of abuse of a client in an effective, timely and sensitive manner.

In relation to those members found guilty of sexual abuse of a client, the College will uphold the sanctions mandated by the RHPA. For those members found guilty of other forms of abuse of a client, the College is committed to imposing appropriate penalties to reflect the severity of the conduct of concern.

Approved: November 2003