Learn About Your Rights

What’s Massage Therapy?

The Massage Therapy Act, 1991, the provincial legislation for Massage Therapy in Ontario, defines the practice of Massage Therapy as “the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissue and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain.” This is referred to as the “Scope of Practice.”

Massage Therapy treatment has a therapeutic effect on the body, general health and overall well-being. Massage Therapy may be used to maintain and improve physical health and can also ease the effects of physical pain.

CMTO exists to protect the public interest, which means our first and foremost responsibility is to clients of Massage Therapists (also known as Registered Massage Therapists, RMTs or MTs) and the general public. If you have a question or concern about the treatment you received from an RMT, please contact us for help or view the Concerns and Complaints section to learn more about the process to file a complaint.

Your Rights as a Client

As a client seeking Massage Therapy treatment, you have the right to:

  • Access safe, ethical and confidential care.
  • Be fully informed about the suggested treatment plan, including any risks and benefits associated with the treatment.
  • Ask questions or raise concerns with your RMT about the recommended care.
  • Bring a person along with you to the appointment while you are being assessed or treated.
  • Give or refuse consent. You can also withdraw your consent at any time during treatment.
  • Decide how much clothing to remove, what body parts get worked on during the treatment and the amount of pressure that is comfortable for you.
  • Ask to see your health record or request your health record be transferred to another health professional any time, for any reason.

Your Personal Health Information – Privacy and Confidentiality

By law, regulated healthcare professionals have obligations to keep your personal information secure and confidential. During your Massage Therapy appointment, you will be asked for your health history; it is important to share this information and be honest with your RMT. Your RMT needs to know about any conditions you have and any medications you are on, so they understand how they may impact your treatment. They also use this information to tailor the treatment to meet your individual needs. This information is confidential and cannot be shared without your consent. Learn more about your Health Privacy Rights in Ontario.

Informed Consent: Gives You Control Over Your Care

All regulated healthcare professionals, including RMTs, must obtain informed consent prior to performing any assessment or treatment on you, it is a requirement. Informed consent is a process that gives you, the client, the ability to make decisions about your healthcare. During your first visit, you can expect your RMT to cover the following six items:

  1. Summarize the treatment;
  2. Explain why you need the treatment;
  3. Tell you the benefits of the treatment;
  4. Communicate any potential risks arising from the treatment;
  5. Suggest other courses of action; and
  6. Describe the likely consequence(s) of not having the treatment.

After a discussion with your RMT, you should feel confident and comfortable with the proposed treatment plan. You should always feel empowered to ask questions and raise any concerns you may have before, during or after your Massage Therapy treatment.

Informed consent should feel like a process – it should not be just about completing a form. Before starting Massage Therapy treatment, you will need to understand why you need the treatment and then provide consent for your RMT to proceed. You may be asked to provide consent orally (saying yes) or in writing (signing a form). As the client, you can choose to stop the treatment, or request changes to your treatment plan at any time, for any reason.

Written Consent for Treatment of Sensitive Areas

If you visit your RMT for treatment of a sensitive area, such as your breast, buttocks, upper inner thigh or gluteal region, or after initial assessment your RMT determines that treatment of a sensitive area is recommended, your RMT will initiate a discussion of the benefits, risks and alternatives to treatment of the sensitive area. If you want to proceed with treatment of a sensitive area, ensure you have gone over the informed consent process with your RMT and signed a written consent form prior to starting the treatment. You have the right to ask questions and understand the treatment plan before agreeing to the treatment. Remember, you can choose to stop the treatment, or request changes to your treatment plan at any time, for any reason. View an example of a written consent form.

If you would like to learn more about the written consent requirement enforced by CMTO, please see the Frequently Asked Questions document for clients or contact our Practice Specialist at practicespecialist@cmto.com or by phone at 416-489-2626/1-800-465-1933 extension 4124. 

Treatment of Friends and Family

Only in exceptional circumstances should RMTs treat family members or someone with whom they have a close personal relationship (and Massage Therapists can never treat their spouse/romantic partner, because it is prohibited under provincial law). Not treating friends or family helps ensure safe, ethical and quality Massage Therapy treatment. Despite an RMT’s intentions to deliver the best possible care, clinical objectivity may be compromised when treating someone they have a close personal relationship with.

RMTs are prohibited from treating their romantic partner or spouse and from having a romantic or sexual relationship with a client. Under the law, this is considered sexual abuse. An RMT cannot start a romantic or sexual relationship with a former client for at least one year after the RMT-client relationship has ended. In some cases, it may never be appropriate for a former client to engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with their RMT.

If you would like to learn more, please read Standard A5: Treating Family or Friends or CMTO’s Standard for Maintaining Professional Boundaries And Preventing Sexual Abuse.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

Professional Boundaries 

Your relationship with your healthcare provider is important because it is based on mutual trust and respect. RMTs, like physicians, dentists and other regulated health professionals are required to maintain a therapeutic relationship and to act in your best interest.

There is an important line between a professional and personal relationship when it comes to the RMT-client relationship that should not be crossed. Learn more about professional boundaries in Massage Therapy, and why they are so important. 

Helpful Resources

Resource  Description
Ontario Health Regulators This website was established with the goal of informing the public about the important role that Ontario’s 26 health regulators have in protecting and serving the public interest.
CMTO’s Look Before You Book Developed by CMTO, Look Before You Book is an annual awareness campaign that empowers Ontarians to make informed decisions about their healthcare provider. It does so by encouraging clients to look up reliable information about their RMT on CMTO’s public register prior to booking a massage, or in other words – ‘look before you book.’
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner This resource offers in-depth information on protection of personal privacy in Ontario, including privacy of personal health information. It also contains many useful guidelines regarding personal health information privacy, such as client files.
RMTAO’s Understanding Massage Therapy Services and Fees The Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario (RMTAO) has published guidelines to assist clients of Massage Therapy with navigating the fee structure and the legal and practice parameters within.