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Boundaries

RMTs are required to set and maintain appropriate professional boundaries with each patient. A “boundary” separates professional and therapeutic behavior from non-professional and non-therapeutic behavior.

The CMTBC Code of Ethics describes RMT’s ethical obligations relating to boundaries in general terms. These obligations include that RMTs must refrain from taking advantage of a patient for the RMT’s own personal, sexual, emotional, social, political, or financial interest or benefit, and that RMTs must not engage in sexual misconduct with a patient.

RMTs also have an ethical obligation to be cautious in forming a personal relationship with a former patient. RMTs are only permitted to enter into close personal relationships with former patients in the circumstances set out in section 22 of the Code of Ethics.
This section requires the RMT to think about the amount of time that has passed since the therapeutic relationship ended and whether a power differential continues to exist. In asking this question, RMTs may consider how mature or vulnerable the former patient is, whether the former patient has any impaired decision-making ability, and the nature and duration of the care that was provided to the former patient

The CMTBC standard of practice on professional boundaries will go into effect July 1, 2018. This stand-alone standard of practice complements CMTBC’s Code of Ethics. While the Code of Ethics provides a high-level definition of ethical practice, the standard of practice further defines and sets requirements relating to professional boundaries, against which CMTBC, the public and RMTs are able to assess massage therapy practice. The practice standard also provides RMTs with a clear foundation for reflection on practice.

The boundaries standard of practice clearly defines expectations for RMTs in the area of boundaries and includes:

  • A definition of professional boundaries that are appropriate to the therapeutic relationship;
  • Twenty-four detailed requirements for RMTs to follow in maintaining appropriate boundaries with patients;
  • An appendix with definitions of terms used in the boundaries standard of practice.

The boundaries standard of practice empowers RMTs to exercise their professional judgement and discretion when faced with difficult or unclear circumstances in practice.

For more information, read the Code of Ethics and the boundaries standard of practice.

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