Book Review of The Ethics of Touch

The Massage Doula Network
Newsletter Fall 2003
by Judith Koch

Centering my massage practice in a "redneck" area of California, I've often been greeted with raised eyebrows at the mention of my career, which was a large factor in my specialization in women's care (pregnancy, fibromyalgia, spa, etc). Compounded just this month with a prostitution ring arrest in my city that was using massage as a front for their business, I'm afraid in my 13 years in this industry, I've seen little progress in the public perception of our career.

A recent book release, The Ethics of Touch, authored by Ben E. Benjamin and Cherie Sohnen-Moe, has filled a void in sharing concrete ethical boundaries for the massage industry. The book covers a range of ethical principles, including structure in establishing boundaries, communicating to avoid a violation of ethics, and dealing with clients in a social setting. The book also covers sexual and intimacy issues, as ethics in dealing with other professionals in our field.

Because experience is such a valuable learning tool, the book is peppered with actual stories, and each chapter has a summary that gives the reader exercises or thought questions to ponder to help them understand and/or establish their own ethical behavior. The book should be must-reading for all students of touch, as it will give them a solid basis for establishing a firm ethical basis for their business.

If I were going to make a suggestion for improvements in future editions, or for a companion edition, it would be to be written in such as way as to encourage the general public to read the book, because as it is, it will have little impact on the mentality of the general public. The public perception of ethics (or lack thereof) is not likely to be changed by this book without the collective effort of every touch practitioner living and sharing the concept of The Ethics of Touch. It clearly won't impact the prostitution mind-set that has long used our legitimate industry to cover its illegitimate industry.

While the text is ideal for students of massage, which is a great starting point and as such the book has great value, we still have to keep searching toward solutions to our overall image in the community.

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