AWKWARD: A Quick Look at Ethics and Professional Boundaries

     When it comes to professional ethics there are some fairly obvious facts. Like the importance of keeping a clean, healthy and safe work environment. Knowing it's not a good idea to make passes at your client or take it upon yourself to get them caught up on the latest gossip around town. There are some things that make you think "well duh" but there is also a large gray area that makes things a little trickier. For example, is it ethically appropriate to take on your children's teachers as clients? Is it appropriate to give a big smile and "hey how are you" when you run into a client at the store? How do you approach charging family after your schooling is complete? See.....tricky.
     Through our business and ethics unit we are going to work through the hard facts and talk through some of these trickier gray areas. Christy compared professional boundaries to driving. We want to stay on the road with in our lane. In order to do so we are constantly having to make minor adjustments in our steering. Unfortunately accidents do happen and if it does you hope its a fender bender that can be quickly addressed and resolved. Our teachers and peers are helping us to avoid full on four car pile ups!  We do this by knowing and having firm boundaries in place and holding ourselves to a high standard by following a code of ethics.
    As massage therapists we have to be conscientious of how vulnerable our clients are. Physically they are partially or completely undressed with us standing over them. They are trusting us to keep them professionally draped, not pass judgment, and uphold a high standard of care. As the therapist we hold great power, but our purpose is to serve our clients, the time spent on our table is THEIR time.  So we need to make efforts to give the power back to them as much as possible while maintaining our professional boundaries
    I appreciate the opportunity to learn how to make my clients most comfortable while also protecting myself. I will admit I am the definition of a non-confrontational people pleaser.  Should I ever find myself in the position of a client abusing my kindness by chronically no showing for appointments or refusing to pay I will need to know how to professionally address these issues.  One of my favorite take aways thus far is having written boundaries that your can have your clients look over and sign as a client agreement. This is a good way to get scheduling and payment procedures taken care of before a problem ever occurs. We also spent some time working on a blanket statement that we will memorize and can use if we find ourselves in situations that cross our professionally boundaries. This is a great way to avoid getting caught off guard and finding ourselves frozen with a deer in the headlights expression across our face.
     We were also given the opportunity to do some role playing. There was a lot of laughs but the truth is some pretty interesting situations may present themselves through your professional career! It is easy to laugh at these seemingly impossible situations but it is important to take it all seriously so you feel strong and confident in your boundaries and how to address them being crossed respectfully and professionally.


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