People might have a better idea about what to expect from a massage therapist if the media didn’t present such absurd portrayals of the profession.
When I first met my wife, her only impression of what massage is came from the media, mostly for comic effect. She’d seen countless television episodes that usually portray the masseuse (more on this below) as a very muscular woman with a Swedish accent. The woman then begins working on the client’s back by making chopping actions with her hands reminiscent of Miss Piggy. Hi-yah! It took me months to get her to let me work on her.
Another thing that annoys me is when the term masseuse is used as an all-inclusive term for a massage therapist. It’s not. It’s of French origin, referring to a woman who performs massages. A man (remember, this is French) is a masseur. Imagine “mister/masseur” — it can help you remember. Personally, I prefer to be called massage therapist, because it underscores the fact that massage can be used as therapy hence medical and orthopedic massage.
The other day we were watching an episode of Bones, in which Dr. Brennan and her colleague went to a day spa. The therapists appeared to merely be slightly poking at the ladies’ backs. They weren’t even using bolsters under the clients’ feet. I blurted out “what the heck type of massage is that?” “Better than what happened on Law & Order: SVU in the last season’s finale,” my wife said. “That evil massage therapist set Capt. Cragen up for murder!” A therapist just can’t win!
This brings me to The Client List. You can find it discussed here and reviewed here. The under-premise of this Lifetime show seems to be that female therapists also tend to be prostitutes. Despite the protests, it has been renewed for a second season.
With this type of imagery prevailing about the massage profession, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) found the need to publish a formal statement regarding how our profession is viewed.
Where do I stand? Our Code of Ethics states it best. These two statements get right to the point:
Massage therapists/practitioners shall:
- Project a professional image and uphold the highest standards of professionalism.
- Accept responsibility to do no harm to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of self, clients, and associates.
- Refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their clients in the course of a massage therapy session.
You can read our Code of Ethics in its entirety here – or on my office wall – where it is proudly displayed.