A Sensitive Issue Made Clear . . .

Although the word "massage" has been used as a convenient cover-up for illicit sex, Massage Therapy--as a health profession--is never intended to provide a sexual experience any more than a gynecological examination, a prostate examination, or a discussion of sexuality between patient and sex therapist is intended to lead to sexual involvement between client and therapist. And while sexuality is an important aspect of the human experience--something that should be widely researched and responsibily discussed around the world--the boundaries of sex and sexuality lie outside the realm of any professional-quality MT practice. Mistakenly and so sadly, consumers of illicit sex are often led to believe that massage therapists are only happy to put up with the sex needs of their clients. Most massage therapists, however, couldn't be further from practicing MT with some kind of an underlying sexual agenda. Caring, creative individuals, typically with a liberal arts background, they bring an active interest in natural health and humanity to the profession. Fortunately, for the growing number of people who now routinely make MT appointments for rehab as well as for stress-reduction and prevention, such ethical boundaries are self-evident.

Even (or especially) when MT is indicated for the treatment of a sexual problem or for recovery from sexual trauma, the professional boundaries remain clear and unequivocal. Massage Therapy is not intended for sexual arousal whatsoever. While MT involves the manipulation of soft tissue, it does not involve the client's or patient's private parts. Private body parts should be covered by a sheet, a towel, or by the client's clothes at all times. Indeed, most people understand that they cannot act on a sexual urge regardless of the circumstances under which such urge occurs.

If you've read nothing else on this page, please be aware that sexual behavior between client and massage therapist--physical, or even verbal, or even by gestures only--is unacceptable.

Regardless of who initiates it, when sexual behavior occurs--even if consensual--a clear breach of the professional ethical code occurs. A professional relationship no longer exists. And when sexual behavior is imposed on either massage therapist or client, a potentially damaging violation of personal boundaries and psychological autonomy has occurred. Mental health experts agree that, in general, an individual who feels compelled to break work-related boundaries is likely to come with the emotional baggage of low-self esteem and control problems. And understanding such emotional problems doesn't make an inappropriate sexual behavior more acceptable.

Whether during the MT session or even just via phone inquiries, professional-quality massage therapists--like other health professionals--have every right to work without the nuisance and abuse of the misguided sexual intentions of perpetrating, misinformed individuals. And MT WEB CENTRAL is asking for public support in this important area. First off, please drop us a few words with your thoughts, experience or questions about MT and Sex. If you are a public figure, or a health professional who has benefited from professional-quality MT, please share your experience with us for possible publication in our newletter, MT MATTERS!

My Feedback    (Please enter in the "Subject": MT & Sex.)

We feel that it is urgent that the public be informed about the tremendous health value of non-sexual, professional touching. For any health professional, by the way, we also feel that Ashley Montagu's TOUCHING: The Human Significance of the Skin is a sine qua non. Likewise, in the unlikely event that a qualified (but unprofessional) massage therapist breaks the ethical code, in addition to immediate cessation from active MT practice, we recommend the individual read one of the many good books on compulsive/addictive behavior. Professional (psychological) help is the next logical step.

If you have been on the receiving end of inappropriate sexual behavior, chances are this has not been an isolated case. At any event, we recommend that you inform your local regulatory agency (typically called the Board for Massage Therapy, listed in our Global Directory of MTs NEAR YOU™).

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