Deep Tissue Therapy & Reiki Grand Rapids

Legal Boundaries in the Massage Office

This is the written law from the State of Michigan that every massage therapist in the state has to be licensed and fingerprinted for. It’s not an option. Every healthcare worker has to do this.

It’s only March and so far in 2019, I’ve had three clients ask me to break the law according to my license. One left money sitting on the table even though she totally needed medical manual therapy and told me she felt I was OBLIGATED as a massage therapist to provide her with spa, relaxation massage with her lotion. No. That is patently wrong and she was crossing my professional boundaries and her rights as a patient. I have the right to conduct my practice within my legal scope of practice in any manner I wish. The other two were men asking me out on a date or for sex, even though they were already my client and also…totally needed the medical care. None of them have returned for needed care because they couldn’t focus on HEALTHCARE. I did my best to mitigate the awkwardness with the males as ALL women have to everywhere we go, in all jobs, in all situations. It’s constant when we’re trying to focus on making money, working, and being professional.

So, I decided it’s important for anyone in the area to see the written law, in our manual from LARA (Licensing and Regulatory Agency) that states the law. To repeat the obvious, we have our hands all over our patients as bodyworkers. Every massage therapist in the state has access in an unequaled fashion, to our patient’s bodies. THAT’S A BIG DEAL! It makes us vulnerable and the patient vulnerable to abuse. If we don’t have legal boundaries, practice boundaries, and technique boundaries it will create trouble.

Right off the bat in the Prohibited Conduct section, R338.723 (a) it states that I cannot provide a massage therapy service that I’m not trained to do. Blue Heron Academy in no way teaches spa, relaxation massage and forbids the use of oil in the school. So, if graduates of our school go out and do that, they really need to get training from a different school. The technique of a 600-hour student with oil is in itself not safe for the patient because it hurts them, especially if you go deep with oil, but to use medical manual therapy techniques with relaxation massage is a f*ing disaster. Don’t do it! It’s against the law and unsafe for the patient! I wasn’t trained in relaxation massage so I’m not supposed to do it for a paying patient. I do it in private though, which is where it belongs for everyone.

Now, look at section (c). We have the right to refuse treatment to a patient that requests I engage in treatment that is unlawful or unsafe or that I’m not trained to do.

Section (f). We can’t have a personal relationship, meaning intimate, with a client. I can’t take money for treatment from a man I’m dating. It’s one or the other. Either he is my client or he is my lover. It can’t be both. It’s illegal and rightfully so. I can do manual therapy for him privately and not charge him or see him in my office but that boundary must stay in place. In section (ii) it reiterates specifically that we cannot engage in a sexual relationship with a current client. That makes ALL prostitution massage illegal folks. The State laws usurp any local Grand Rapids ordinance that previously existed, bar none. Day Spa, Spa, or Prostitution massage with or without sex-trafficked individuals is illegal.

Bodyworkers education requirements and scope of practice need to come up in the world. I believe our hours of training in the State of Michigan are about to increase. Right now they are at 500-600 hours only. That is FAR too low. Blue Heron Academy has a program that preps students to become Naprapathic Doctors (Soft Tissue Doctor or Muscle Doctor) which is still not licensed in our State. That is my level of training with eighteen years of experience. You can ask Blue Heron, but last I heard, upon their observation of the Naprapathic Doctors in Chicago, it’s graduates of the advanced Manual Therapy program here in Grand Rapids are practicing at the same level. My patients who have been treated by me would testify to that.  So it doesn’t feel fair to me that I have to practice under a massage therapy license, but that’s all we’ve got right now. So be it. When I was in the advanced program at BHA, Dr. Lawton asked me if I thought we should be included in the massage therapy license or have our own license. I said I wanted a Medical Manual Therapy license but he didn’t go with that and pushed the massage licensure in Lansing. It’s progress anyway.


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