A Further Reminder that RMTs are Prohibited from Treating their Romantic/Sexual Partner

Winter 2018

Because of the status and influence of health professionals, there is potential for any sexual behaviour to cause serious harm to the client. The Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) is designed to eliminate any form of sexual contact between regulated health professionals, including Registered Massage Therapists (RMT), and their clients. Even if the client consents to or initiates the sexual behaviour, it is prohibited for the RMT.

The term “sexual abuse” is intended to convey how seriously the conduct is taken and is defined broadly in the RHPA. It includes the following:
• sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between an RMT and a client;
• touching, of a sexual nature, of the client by an RMT; or
• behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by an RMT towards the client.

As a result, RMTs, like the majority of health professionals in Ontario, are prohibited from treating persons with whom they have a sexual or romantic relationship with, including their spouse. Even if the individual “consented” to the relationship, it is still considered sexual abuse within the meaning of the RHPA. Currently, there is no RHPA exception for RMTs to treat their spouse.

While you cannot practise Massage Therapy or engage in any kind of therapeutic relationship with your romantic/sexual partner because it is considered sexual abuse under the RHPA, normal physical touching that takes place within your spousal/romantic relationship would not constitute the practise of Massage Therapy and so would not be captured by the sexual abuse provisions of the RHPA.

Since sexual abuse is such an important issue, regulatory colleges take it very seriously. CMTO has a zero tolerance policy towards sexual abuse. This means that all complaints or reports are taken seriously, investigated thoroughly and acted upon.

If the Discipline Committee finds that sexual abuse of a client has been proved, significant penalty orders are made. While the penalty order made varies with the type of sexual abuse that occurred, if the sexual abuse involved frank sexual acts with a client (e.g., intercourse, masturbation), the order must include revocation for a minimum period of five years. In addition, in all cases, where a finding of sexual abuse has been made, the RMT will be reprimanded. All findings of sexual abuse are posted permanently on the College’s public register.

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