professional ethics

When it comes to completing continuing education (CE) requirements, LMTs have plenty of options.

And taking courses online allows for even greater flexibility in deciding what to study, which comes in handy as you work your way through different stages of your career. The perspectives of a practicing LMT and a student are far different—chances are the seasoned LMT has discovered several areas where more study would be useful.

Perceptions Change

Professional ethics courses are usually required for massage therapists to become licensed. However, the topic of ethics as a concept and the actual day-to-day implementation of that concept are far different.

For students, the regulations and ideas covered in ethics class seem black and white, with right being clearly delineated from wrong. In practice, though, LMTs may discover gray areas or have questions that were not answered in class.

In addition to dealing with real-world work issues rather than classroom concepts, the variety of settings in which LMTs practice can make a refresher in ethics a good idea. For example, perhaps an LMT student plans to work in a spa setting throughout school, but then discovers she enjoys the flexibility that comes with running an independent practice. Since her focus was different in school, taking an ethics class to fulfill CE requirements may be helpful. 

Application Matters

Obviously, studying ethics—either in school or for CE credits—will not make an individual ethical. If a person is not ethical, a course will not change that fact. However, there are several situations and real-world scenarios that LMTs encounter where understanding the ethics associated with the profession can be helpful.

Working LMTs frequently find there are difficult issues surrounding roles and boundaries in the therapist/patient relationship. The idea of a client who continually shows up late may be very different from the live person who actually does show up late. As a student, it’s easy to think, “I would just tell them that is unacceptable!” As a practicing LMT, however it’s more likely that other concerns—maybe the latecomer is a really nice person or leaves a great tip every time— could make responding to the situation more difficult.

Check Yourself

Every person who works in the United States in a healthcare setting of any kind has at least a passing familiarity the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). LMTs are required to follow the regulations set forth in HIPAA, and a refresher course in ethics can help practicing LMTs remain within the boundaries of the law.

Adding a course in ethics to your personal roster is a good idea for therapists who are changing how and where they work. Therapists who have not taken an ethics course for several years may also find it beneficial to revisit the topic. There is never harm in reviewing concepts that are critical for professional success. LMTs usually work with patients in a one-on-one setting, where physical contact takes place. There are certainly psychological pitfalls, and reviewing the tenets of ethical behavior can help professionals avoid those pitfalls.