Book Review of The Ethics of Touch

AMTA - New Hampshire Chapter Newsletter
Summer 2003
by Rosanne Beaurivage

The Ethics of Touch was hardly my idea of summer reading, yet once I scanned the index and flipped through a few case studies I knew I was about to surprise my expectations. I have never read a book on ethics but I have attended ethics courses every year at New England Regional Conference. A seminar can be compared to but one chapter of this nine chapter/320 page book. Whereas a seminar is presenter-focused and may include discussion questions and activities, a book can be picked up and reread many times according to need. It addresses in depth what many workshops could only briefly introduce. If a workshop inspired you to explore ethics more thoroughly, the recommended reading was usually not very relevant to somatic therapies. THIS summer reading has inspired a list of small changes to improve the boundaries and communications within my own practice. I've taken ethics from an abstract concept to one of action.

I like the format very much--if not user friendly, it's "Rosanne friendly"--I love to "highlight marker" my learning books but the layout is good enough to not need to! The Chapters are broken down into bold face headings that are helpful when you wish to zero in on one topic. I found the grey-shaded case studies to be a clever distinction and there are often two cases to compare and clarify. Reference notes to appendices and other chapters appear on the side margins-helpful for quick navigating. The authors also include proverbs, quotations and short summaries on choice pages. Each chapter ends with Highlights (who needs highlighting--the authors did it for you!) and Discussion Questions and Activities (to clarify your ethical concerns and areas where you may need work).

The book is thorough and detailed in many topics that encompass boundaries, communication, relationships, touch, and business. Included is a chapter on Special Considerations in Cases of Trauma.

In our wish [to] do no harm, the book identifies that here is where we are at great risk of further victimizing a survivor of abuse. Its compilation approach and textbook style can break down many areas into more comprehensive elements to be examined by any massage therapist encountering an ethical issue. The book ends with three appendices: Forms, Specialized Protocols and Codes of Ethics which could be a book or resources in itself.

Both are highly skilled and qualified to undertake the often philosophical and confusing subject of ethics in the massage and bodywork fields. Well organized and seasoned in both massage-related business and education, the book reflects a well thought out guide for hands on healthcare. The list of contributing authors includes seven out of fifteen MTs or bodyworkers. The book's chapters can be used to obtain category A CEHs from the NCBTMB by calling an 800 number or using their website.

Surely The Ethics of Touch will make its way into future classrooms as a required textbook. I can recommend this book for many other uses: for the MT who has struggled solo with a difficult client or business relationship, this book can reveal a lot about you and your practice and give you the guidance to work out difficult situations; for the mentor/MT who may need a broader reference aid for the ethical issues that play out in supervision and the individual practice; for discussion and MT support groups-some topics to induce lively discourse! And for those of us who love to view our lives from one more angle in hope of improving not only our lives but that of our clients!

This is a good business investment for the life of your practice.

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