The Ethics of Client Communication
By Ruth Werner


When I was a new massage therapist just starting out, I had a client come to my office who scared the daylights out of me. Her ankles were huge; her legs lapped down over the tops of her shoes. She was huffing and puffing to make it up the three steps to my office. She was complaining of leg pain and was hoping that I could make some time to see her.
At that point in my career I didn’t have the tools or education to recognize congestive heart failure, but I could see that something was very wrong. Regretfully, I sent her away, because I truly didn’t know how to help her safely. She was understandably upset, but I felt that there was nothing I could do. That moment has stayed with me through many years.
How many times have you worked with a client and noticed something that made you wonder about his or her health? How many times have you felt uncomfortable discussing it?

The Ethics of Client Communication: Talking to Clients About Their Health addresses the delicate art of communicating professionally and with open hearts when we have concerns about our clients’ well-being. We will discuss…

• Medications that may influence bodywork choices;
• Visual or palpatory signs that are red flags;
• Maintaining boundaries for client safety (how to say no when your client says yes)

Basic principles of active listening will be reviewed and employed as students break into small groups to role-play a variety of difficult client-therapist conversations, all based on real-life situations provided by past participants. Students will develop the skills to make responsible, professional, client-centered choices with their work—even when those clients may have diseases or conditions that make many types of massage impractical.


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