Book Review of The Ethics of Touch

AMTA - Missouri Chapter Newsletter
Fall 2003
by Esteban Ruvalcaba

A therapist facing an ethical issue would likely look for help in an old text book such as Milady's [Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage (isbn: 1-562534-04-1)], or in a code of ethics.

These sources are hardly adequate. Texts usually devote a single chapter to ethical issues. Such treatments do little more than introduce a complex topic. They typically provide some prescriptive information (avoid dual relationships. . . keep good records for tax purposes. . . etc.), but not a sound and thorough basis for making ethical choices.

The codes of ethics are less helpful because they are even more general and full of good by broad language that again fails to provide a thoroughgoing basis for developing an integrated ethical model.

This situation has just been remedied with the publication of The Ethics of Touch (isbn: 1-882908-40-6), by Ben Benjamin and Cherie Sohnen-Moe.

This 300 page book provides the first thorough examination of ethics for somatic practitioners. The book is easily the most readable ethics text I have ever read.

In nine chapters Cherie and Ben treat core issues of dual relationships, communications, boundaries, sex, practice management, business ethics, working with victims of trauma, and supervision. In the appendices they also provide, among other useful tools, sample forms that include: Client Bill of Rights, Informed Consent, Trauma Survivor Handout, etc.

Perhaps the most useful aspect of the book is its two initial chapters: Ethical Principles, and Boundaries. These chapters provide the basis for the ethical issues and choices discussed in the rest of the book, and provide the therapist with a tool for developing a personal integrated ethical practice.

It is possible to earn category CEU's from reading each chapter (see page iv of the Preface for details).

We will be giving away a copy of this excellent text at the state meeting in Columbia [in 2003].

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