Georgiy Sekretaryuk
December 10, 2015
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The Rights of the Patient in Massage Therapy

Patient Rights in Massage Therapy

The amount of trust patients give their massage therapists is humbling. The patient walks into a clinic for the first time and proceeds to tell the RMT about their lives, their health history and their hopes and expectations from the treatment.

As a massage therapist in Burnaby BC, I am blown away by this. I can think of only a few other professions where there is such a one on one rapport between patient and therapist and I am thrilled to be a part of someone’s health goals and to build upon and maintain that trust.

However, sometimes that trust is difficult to build. I meet patients who haven’t had the best experience with RMTs. I hear them say that the therapist didn’t listen to them or that they felt uncomfortable during the treatment.

If you are such a patient, who has had a negative experience with an RMT, I am sorry that your therapist didn’t meet the standards of our practice and inform you of your rights as a patient. If you haven’t had this sort of experience that is wonderful! However, it is still a good idea to know your rights, knowledge is power.

It’s understandable to want to defer to someone you believe is an expert in their field of study. That’s why you’re going to see them. However, no amount of studying or hands on experience can tell any expert how you are feeling. Only you know if you are uncomfortable or unsure about the treatment, and only you can initiate the treatment.  You, the patient, are always in control. After all, it is your treatment.

Informed Consent in Massage Therapy

All of the bylaws which BC RMTs must adhere to can be found online at CMTBC.ca, but I would like to highlight one particular bylaw – informed consent.

This bylaw states that a Registrant (RMT) must:

  1. ensure the patient is fully informed regarding assessment and treatment, and provides consent
  2. discontinue treatment if the patient withdraws consent, and
  3. monitor and work within the patient’s pain threshold relative to efficacy of treatment

In summary, you are in control. If you don’t understand why your therapist wants to or is treating a certain area, it’s your right to ask questions or tell them to stop and if you want to stop treatment at any time that is also your right. Get involved with your treatment. As an RMT, I want to earn a patient’s trust and I want you, the patient, to feel comfortable and empowered.  Remember, these are your treatments. Consent isn’t polite, it’s mandatory.

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