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Patient Relations Program

Patient Relations Program

Information and Guidance on Preventing Professional Misconduct

CMTBC’s Patient Relations program exists to provide information and guidance to registrants about how to prevent professional misconduct of a sexual nature when providing patient care. The program also provides information to the public about what to expect when obtaining treatment from a registered massage therapist (RMT).

CMTBC regulates the massage therapy profession in B.C. in the public interest to ensure that RMTs deliver safe, ethical, and effective treatment. Read more about CMTBC.

If you are a patient, a member of the public, or a health professional, and you have a concern about the practice of an RMT in BC, we encourage you to:

What Happens if a Complaint Alleging Sexual Misconduct is Received by CMTBC?

A complaint about sexual misconduct by an RMT will be investigated by CMTBC and may result in professional discipline. Read more about the complaint process.

CMTBC uses professional investigators to conduct investigations of sexual misconduct complaints. Investigators employed by CMTBC are fair, neutral and unbiased, and have experience conducting interviews using trauma-informed practices.

What is Sexual Misconduct?

CMTBC’s Code of Ethics defines sexual misconduct as:

  • sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between an RMT and a patient,
  • touching, of a sexual nature, of a patient by an RMT,
  • behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by an RMT towards a patient, or
  • sexualizing the treatment environment.

Touching, behaviour and remarks by an RMT to a patient that are of a clinical nature appropriate to the massage therapy service being provided are not sexual misconduct.

Of course, treatment of a clinical nature, particularly where it involves contact with potentially sexualized areas of a patient’s body, must be explained by the RMT to the patient in advance.  The RMT must obtain the patient’s informed consent prior to proceeding with treatment. CMTBC’s Consent Standard of Practice outlines the standard of care for RMTs when obtaining informed consent.

RMTs Must Provide Safe, Ethical and Respectful Care

RMTs are responsible for practicing massage therapy in accordance with CMTBC’s Code of Ethics, standard of practice on professional boundaries, standard of practice on consent, and other standards of practice contained in the Bylaws.

The Code of Ethics requires RMTs to set and maintain appropriate professional boundaries with their patients. This requirement is further defined in CMTBC’s standard of practice on professional boundaries. These requirements are explained on a resource page here.

It is the RMT’s duty to establish, maintain, and monitor the boundaries of a therapeutic relationship, which includes taking action if a boundary has been blurred or crossed by a patient. In that situation, roles need to be clarified by the RMT, and treatment goals re-established. If the therapeutic relationship cannot be re-established, it is the duty of the RMT to use professional judgment to determine when and how to terminate the therapeutic relationship in accordance with the Code of Ethics, while providing continuity of care for the patient.

RMTs must:

  • Seek to obtain and document consent as required by the standard of practice on consent. This is particularly important when treating areas of a patient’s body that the patient may consider private.
  • As set out in section 23 of the standard of practice on boundaries, if unintentional or incidental physical contact with potentially sexualized areas of a patient’s body occurs, stop treatment, explain to the patient what happened, obtain patient consent before continuing with treatment, and document the incident in the patient record.  
  • Inform the patient that they can withdraw their consent to treatment at any time.
  • Ask the patient to tell the RMT if / when they feel uncomfortable for any reason.

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