Book Review of The Ethics of Touch

International Myomassethics Federation (IMF) Forum
Fall 2003
by Beth Fordyce

The Ethics of Touch is a hands-on practitioner's guide to creating a professional, safe and enduring practice. The authors, Dr. Ben Benjamin and Ms. Cherie Sohnen-Moe, honestly describe the issues, identify clear principles, name specific resources and use stories straight from the treatment room. This book is to guide, support and inspire both students and seasoned practitioners.

Ethical situations can be difficult, confusing and seldom-discussed-but-often-troubling dilemmas confronting touch therapy practitioners, but the authors cover these issues forthrightly and effectively. The chapters provide reflective exercises and questions which allow the reader to personalize each chapter so as to help handle individual situations that may arise.

Especially impressive, from my viewpoint, is the fact that those wanting to extend their training can obtain Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for each chapter. Their courses are recognized by many organizations, and they are Category A providers for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB). If this is your interest, you can call 800-786-4774 or visit their website.

Chapter 1, Ethical Principles, deals with the book's key terms, codes of ethics, self-accountability, ethical dilemmas and resolving them, and core psychological concepts.

Chapter 2, Boundaries, breaks down into professional, personal, physical, emotional, intellectual, sexual and energetic boundaries.

Chapters 3, 4 and 5, are Dynamics of Effective Communication, Dual Relationships and Sex, Touch and Intimacy. Every therapist has his/her own method of handling these subjects, but here is an open and frank discussion which gives fresh insight into managing sometimes extremely difficult situations.

Chapter 6, Ethical Practical Management, explains the difference between licensure, certification and registration, all of which are important to the practitioner when moving from one township, county or town to another, for each one has its own set of regulations. And you had better make the effort to find out what those regulations are. I personally knew of one massage therapist who decided to work out of another therapists office in the next township, under the assumption she was covered in all respects by the other therapist's credentials. She was not, however, and needed to establish her own credentials with that township. It is wise to go to that township board yourself to get the facts.

Chapter 7, Business Ethics, covers legal issues, such as Copyrighted materials and their Fair Use Factors. It also covers fee structures, tips, barter, gift certificates, taxes, product sales, referrals, marketing materials and insurance issues.

Chapter 8, Special Considerations in Cases of Trauma, states that one of every five clients a practitioner sees has a history of some kind of trauma or abuse. This chapter will help the therapist with basic knowledge about trauma and abuse survivors, and gives a clear protocol for working with these particular clients.

Appendix A lists among many other features, a Client Bill of Rights, which is an informational handout, that you may find useful.

I highly recommend this book because of its sensible coverage of the many daily issues of therapists.

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