What is Massage Therapy?
Massage Therapy is defined 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.
Your Rights as a Client
As a client seeking Massage Therapy treatment, you have the right to:
- 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 at any time, for any reason.
By law, regulated health professionals have obligations to keep your personal information secure and confidential. Before treatment, 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 these 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.
RMTs must obtain informed consent before performing any assessment or treatment on you. Informed consent means that your RMT has explained the proposed treatment, any risks and benefits, and that you’ve had a chance to ask questions.
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 the proposed treatment and then provide consent for your RMT to proceed. You may be asked to provide consent orally (saying “yes” or “no”) 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.
You should always feel empowered to ask questions and raise any concerns you may have before, during or after your Massage Therapy treatment.
During your first visit, you can expect your RMT to:
- Summarize the treatment;
- Explain why you need the treatment;
- Tell you the benefits of the treatment;
- Communicate any potential risks arising from the treatment;
- Suggest other courses of action; and
- Describe the likely consequence(s) of not having the treatment.
If you visit your RMT for treatment of a sensitive area, such as your breast, chest wall, buttocks, upper inner thigh or gluteal region, or if 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 that you’ve signed a written consent form before starting the treatment. View an example of a written consent form.
Only in exceptional circumstances should RMTs treat family members or someone with whom they have a close personal relationship. Despite an RMT’s intentions to deliver the best possible care, clinical objectivity may be compromised when treating someone with whom they have a close personal relationship.
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 ended. In some cases, it may never be appropriate for a former client to engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with their RMT.
Your relationship with your RMT is important because it is based on mutual trust and respect. RMTs must 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.