Practice standards define the minimum level of expected performance for registered massage therapists, and therefore define what constitutes safe, ethical, and competent delivery of care by RMTs.
RMTs are responsible for exercising their professional judgment to apply the standards to the situations that they face in practice.
Boundaries separate professional and therapeutic behavior from non-professional and non-therapeutic behavior. It is the RMT’s responsibility to establish and maintain boundaries that are appropriate to a therapeutic relationship. A therapeutic relationship between a patient and an RMT is based on trust, respect and the patient’s best interests. Professional boundaries specify the behaviours that are appropriate within the therapeutic relationship, and set clear behavioural expectations for RMTs.
The physical nature of massage therapy requires clear boundaries to ensure that the patient’s safety, comfort and dignity are upheld. Clear boundaries allow patients to know what to expect when they seek care from an RMT.
Boundary crossing: Brief excursions across professional lines of behaviour that may be inadvertent, thoughtless or even purposeful, while attempting to meet a therapeutic need of the patient.
Boundary violation: Occurs when the RMT intentionally or unintentionally crosses professional lines of behaviour in a way that is serious enough to potentially or actually harm the patient.
Close personal relationship: A relationship with a person that has elements of exclusivity, privacy or emotional intimacy which occur outside of the therapeutic context.
Counter-transference: When the RMT reacts to transference by transferring his or her experiences or emotions onto the patient.
Dual relationships: When an RMT has a business or personal relationship with a patient outside of his or her practice.
Former patient: A patient whose therapeutic relationship with an RMT was terminated.
Transference: When a patient projects feelings stemming from the patient’s own personal experiences or emotions onto the RMT.
Therapeutic relationship: The relationship between a health professional and a patient, which is characterized by a power imbalance. It is the responsibility of the health professional to recognize and manage this power imbalance in order to provide safe, effective and patient-centred care.