RMTs are required to set and maintain appropriate professional boundaries with each patient. A “boundary” separates professional and therapeutic behaviour from non-professional and non-therapeutic behaviour, within the therapist-patient relationship.
The relationship between a registered massage therapist and a patient is a therapeutic relationship based on trust, respect, and the needs of the patient. If professional boundaries are not appropriately maintained, this may harm the patient or the therapeutic relationship between the patient and the registered massage therapist.
As part of maintaining professional boundaries with patients, 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 must not engage in sexual misconduct with patients. (Sexual misconduct can include even a consensual relationship – see below.)
RMTs 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 College’s 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.
For more information, read the College’s Code of Ethics or contact CMTBC.