ABMP Code of Ethics

  1. Commitment to High-Quality Care I will serve the best interests of my clients at all times and provide the highest quality of bodywork and service possible. I recognize that the obligation for building and maintaining an effective, healthy, and safe therapeutic relationship with my clients is my responsibility.
  2. Commitment to Do No Harm I will conduct a thorough health history intake process for each client and evaluate the health history to rule out contraindications or determine appropriate session adaptations. If I see signs of, or suspect, an undiagnosed condition that massage may be inappropriate for, I will refer that client to a physician or other qualified health-care professional and delay the massage session until approval from the physician has been granted. I understand the importance of ethical touch and therapeutic intent and will conduct sessions with the sole objective of benefiting the client.
  3. Commitment to Honest Representation of Qualifications I will not work outside the commonly accepted scope of practice for massage therapists and bodywork professionals. I will adhere to my state’s scope of practice guidelines (when applicable). I will only provide treatments and techniques for which I am fully trained and hold credible credentials. I will carefully evaluate the needs of each client and refer the client to another provider if the client requires work beyond my capabilities, or beyond the capacity of massage and bodywork. I will not use the trademarks and symbols associated with a particular system or group without authentic affiliation. I will acknowledge the limitations of massage and bodywork by refraining from exaggerating the benefits of massage therapy and related services throughout my marketing.
  4. Commitment to Uphold the Inherent Worth of All Individuals I will demonstrate compassion, respect, and tolerance for others. I will seek to decrease discrimination, misunderstandings, and prejudice. I understand there are situations when it is appropriate to decline service to a client because it is in the best interests of a client’s health, or for my personal safety, but I will not refuse service to any client based on disability, ethnicity, gender, marital status, physical build, or sexual orientation; religious, national, or political affiliation; social or economic status.
  5. Commitment to Respect Client Dignity and Basic Rights I will demonstrate my respect for the dignity and rights of all individuals by providing a clean, comfortable, and safe environment for sessions, using appropriate and skilled draping procedures, giving clients recourse in the event of dissatisfaction with treatment, and upholding the integrity of the therapeutic relationship.
  6. Commitment to Informed Consent I will recognize a client’s right to determine what happens to his or her body. I understand that a client may suffer emotional and physical harm if a therapist fails to listen to the client and imposes his or her own beliefs on a situation. I will fully inform my clients of choices relating to their care, and disclose policies and limitations that may affect their care. I will not provide massage without obtaining a client’s informed consent (or that of the guardian or advocate for the client) to the session plan.
  7. Commitment to Confidentiality I will keep client communication and information confidential and will not share client information without the client’s written consent, within the limits of the law. I will ensure every effort is made to respect a client’s right to privacy and provide an environment where personal health-related details cannot be overheard or seen by others.
  8. Commitment to Personal and Professional Boundaries I will refrain from and prevent behaviors that may be considered sexual in my massage practice and uphold the highest professional standards in order to desexualize massage. I will not date a client, engage in sexual intercourse with a client, or allow any level of sexual impropriety (behavior or language) from clients or myself. I understand that sexual impropriety may lead to sexual harassment charges, the loss of my massage credentials, lawsuits for personal damages, criminal charges, fines, attorney’s fees, court costs, and jail time.
  9. Commitment to Honesty in Business I will know and follow good business practices with regard to record keeping, regulation compliance, and tax law. I will set fair fees and practice honesty throughout my marketing materials. I will not accept gifts, compensation, or other benefits intended to influence a decision related to a client. If I use the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals logo, I promise to do so appropriately to establish my credibility and market my practice.
  10. Commitment to Professionalism I will maintain clear and honest communication with clients and colleagues. I will not use recreational drugs or alcohol before or during massage sessions. I will project a professional image with respect to my behavior and personal appearance in keeping with the highest standards of the massage profession. I will not actively seek to take someone else’s clients, disrespect a client or colleague, or willingly malign another therapist or other allied professional. I will actively strive to positively promote the massage and bodywork profession by committing to self-development and continually building my professional skills.

10 STANDARDS OF PRACTICE National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork

Standard I: Professionalism

The certificant or applicant for certification must provide optimal levels of professional therapeutic massage and bodywork services and demonstrate excellence in practice by promoting healing and well-being through responsible, compassionate and respectful touch. In his/her professional role the certificant or applicant for certification shall:

a. adhere to the NCBTMB Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, policies and procedures

b. comply with the peer review process conducted by the NCBTMB Ethics and Standards Committee regarding any alleged violations of the NCBTMB Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice

c. treat each client with respect, dignity and worth

d. use professional verbal, nonverbal and written communications

e. provide an environment that is safe and comfortable for the client and which, at a minimum, meets all legal requirements for health and safety

f. use standard precautions to insure professional hygienic practices and maintain a level of personal hygiene appropriate for practitioners in the therapeutic setting

g. wear clothing that is clean, modest, and professional

h. obtain voluntary and informed consent from the client prior to initiating the session

i. if applicable, conduct an accurate needs assessment, develop a plan of care with the client, and update the plan as needed

j. use appropriate draping to protect the client’s physical and emotional privacy

k. be knowledgeable of his/her scope of practice and practice only within these limitations

l. refer to other professionals when in the best interest of the client and practitioner

m. seek other professional advice when needed

n. respect the traditions and practices of other professionals and foster collegial relationships

o. not falsely impugn the reputation of any colleague

p. use the initials NCTMB only to designate his/her professional ability and competency to practice therapeutic massage and bodywork, or the initials NCTM only to designate his/her professional ability and competency to practice therapeutic massage

q. remain in good standing with NCBTMB

r. understand that the NCBTMB certificate may be displayed prominently in the certificant’s principal place of practice

s. use the NCBTMB logo and certification number on business cards, brochures, advertisements, and stationery only in a manner that is within established NCBTMB guidelines

t. not duplicate the NCBTMB certificate for purposes other than verification of the practitioner’s credentials

u. immediately return the certificate to NCBTMB if certification is revoked

v. inform NCBTMB of any changes or additions to information included in his/her application for NCBTMB certification or recertification

Standard II: Legal and Ethical Requirements

The certificant or applicant for certification must comply with all the legal requirements in applicable jurisdictions regulating the profession of therapeutic massage and bodywork. In his/her professional role the certificant or applicant for certification shall:

a. obey all applicable local, state, and federal laws

b. refrain from any behavior that results in illegal, discriminatory, or unethical actions

c. accept responsibility for his/her own actions

d. report to the proper authorities any alleged violations of the law by other certificants or applicants for certification

e. maintain accurate and truthful records

f. report to NCBTMB any criminal conviction of, or plea of guilty, nolo contendere, or no contest to, a crime in any jurisdiction (other than a minor traffic offense) by him/herself and by other certificants or applicants for certification

g. report to NCBTMB any pending litigation and resulting resolution related to the certificant or applicant for certification’s professional practice and the professional practice of other certificants or applicants for certification

h. report to NCBTMB any pending complaints in any state or local government or quasi-government board or agency against his/her professional conduct or competence, or that of another certificant, and the resulting resolution of such complaint

i. respect existing publishing rights and copyright laws, including, but not limited to, those that apply to NCBTMB’s copyright-protected examinations

Standard III: Confidentiality

The certificant or applicant for certification shall respect the confidentiality of client information and safeguard all records. In his/her professional role the certificant or applicant for certification shall:

a. protect the confidentiality of the client’s identity in conversations, all advertisements, and any and all other matters unless disclosure of identifiable information is requested by the client in writing, is medically necessary, is required by law or for purposes of public protection

b. protect the interests of clients who are minors or clients who are unable to give voluntary and informed consent by securing permission from an appropriate third party or guardian

c. solicit only information that is relevant to the professional client/therapist relationship

d. share pertinent information about the client with third parties when required by law or for purposes of public protection

e. maintain the client files for a minimum period of four years

f. store and dispose of client files in a secure manner

Standard IV: Business Practices

The certificant or applicant for certification shall practice with honesty, integrity, and lawfulness in the business of therapeutic massage and bodywork. In his/her professional role the certificant or applicant for certification shall:

a. provide a physical setting that is safe and meets all applicable legal requirements for health and safety

b. maintain adequate and customary liability insurance

c. maintain adequate progress notes for each client session, if applicable

d. accurately and truthfully inform the public of services provided

e. honestly represent all professional qualifications and affiliations

f. promote his/her business with integrity and avoid potential and actual conflicts of interest

g. advertise in a manner that is honest, dignified, accurate and representative of services that can be delivered and remains consistent with the NCBTMB Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice

h. advertise in a manner that is not misleading to the public and shall not use sensational, sexual or provocative language and/or pictures to promote business

i. comply with all laws regarding sexual harassment

j. not exploit the trust and dependency of others, including clients and employees/co-workers

k. display/discuss a schedule of fees in advance of the session that is clearly understood by the client or potential client

l. make financial arrangements in advance that are clearly understood by and safeguard the best interests of the client or consumer

m. follow acceptable accounting practices

n. file all applicable municipal, state and federal taxes

o. maintain accurate financial records, contracts and legal obligations, appointment records, tax reports and receipts for at least four years

Standard V: Roles and Boundaries

The certificant or applicant for certification shall adhere to ethical boundaries and perform the professional roles designed to protect both the client and the practitioner, and safeguard the therapeutic value of the relationship. In his/her professional role the certificant or applicant for certification shall:

a. recognize his/her personal limitations and practice only within these limitations

b. recognize his/her influential position with the client and not exploit the relationship for personal or other gain

c. recognize and limit the impact of transference and counter-transference between the client and the certificant

d. avoid dual or multidimensional relationships that could impair professional judgment or result in exploitation of the client or employees and/or coworkers

e. not engage in any sexual activity with a client

f. acknowledge and respect the client’s freedom of choice in the therapeutic session

g. respect the client’s right to refuse the therapeutic session or any part of the therapeutic session

h. refrain from practicing under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any illegal substances (with the exception of a prescribed dosage of prescription medication which does not impair the certificant)

i. have the right to refuse and/or terminate the service to a client who is abusive or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any illegal substance

Standard VI: Prevention of Sexual Misconduct

The certificant or applicant for certification shall refrain from any behavior that sexualizes, or appears to sexualize, the client/therapist relationship. The certificant or applicant for certification recognizes the intimacy of the therapeutic relationship may activate practitioner and/or client needs and/or desires that weaken objectivity and may lead to sexualizing the therapeutic relationship. In his/her professional role the certificant or applicant for certification shall:

a. refrain from participating in a sexual relationship or sexual conduct with the client, whether consensual or otherwise, from the beginning of the client/therapist relationship and for a minimum of six months after the termination of the client/therapist relationship unless a preexisting relationship exists between a certificant or applicant for certification and client prior to the certificant or applicant for certification applying to be certified by NCBTMB

b. in the event that the client initiates sexual behavior, clarify the purpose of the therapeutic session, and, if such conduct does not cease, terminate or refuse the session

c. recognize that sexual activity with clients, students, employees, supervisors, or trainees is prohibited even if consensual

d. not touch the genitalia

e. only perform therapeutic treatments beyond the normal narrowing of the ear canal and normal narrowing of the nasal passages as indicated in the plan of care and only after receiving informed voluntary written consent

f. only perform therapeutic treatments in the oropharynx as indicated in the plan of care and only after receiving informed voluntary consent g. only perform therapeutic treatments into the anal canal as indicated in the plan of care and only after receiving informed voluntary written consent h. only provide therapeutic breast massage as indicated in the plan of care and only after receiving informed voluntary written consent from the client