Standards of Practice, Consent, and Massage Therapy

This post is written and provided by Guelph registered massage therapist Terri Rowan, RMT

If you are a patient of mine we may have already had a conversation about some new Standards of Practice put in place by my regulatory body, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO). These new standards are in response to Bill 87: Protecting Patients Act a part of which is dedicated to protecting patients from sexual abuse by health care providers. The Regulatory Colleges of all Regulated Health Providers were asked to respond with how they planned to implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse.

Before clarifying these new Standards, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you that even before Bill 87 was tabled you, as a patient, had rights and I want to assure you that I have always taken these rights seriously.

This may be new to some of you, and a friendly reminder to others.

As a patient of mine you have the right:

To tell your story and to be listened to

This includes your medical history and anything else you feel is important. You can tell your story in whatever way you like and share only as much as you are comfortable. You may decline to answer certain questions. Be aware, however, there are certain pieces of information that I am required to collect.

To ask questions and receive satisfactory answers

You may ask questions at any time during our meeting(s). I will always do my best to answer in a clear, truthful way and in accordance with the current evidence as I understand it. I may have to say, “I don’t know, let me get back to you.”

To have the Massage Therapy Treatment explained to you

This includes: what we are going to do, why we are going to do it, and how we are going to do it. I aim to explain these things as simply and clearly as possible and questions are always welcome.

To understand the risks and side effects

Many of us see Massage Therapy as pretty risk-free. Most of the time this is true. But there are some techniques that may be riskier than others and there are underlying health issues or medications that can increase the risks. Side effects are not as serious as risks, but you should be made aware of those as well.

To say no to some or all of the treatment

When the treatment is explained to you you are free to say yes to all of it, some of it, or none of it. For instance, you may be OK with certain areas being touched, but not others. This is your opportunity to voice those preferences.

To be given alternatives

If you say no to any or all of the treatment proposal I will make some other suggestions. I have quite a few techniques available to use and we may be able to find something you would prefer. If we can’t find common ground on anything, I can refer you to another health care provider that can help.

To say no at any time

Seriously. Consent is an ongoing thing. Just because something might be OK during one treatment, you may not be OK with it at the next. Or just because you are OK with something before we start treatment, during treatment you may decide against it. You are also free to stop the treatment at any time.

To Speak to A Third Party About My Conduct

By choosing to be treated by a Registered Massage Therapist, you are assured that should you be harmed in any way during treatment you have the right to complain to the CMTO, the College that regulates my profession. This right extends to all harm, not just physical.

I hope that this reminder will make understanding the new Standards of Practice easier. In a separate post, I will explain the goal of these new Standards and what it means for your next Massage Therapy appointment.

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