A question about massage ethics

Are there any professional rules or guidelines for massage practitioners about performing a massage on someone they’re physically or sexually attracted to? I mean, obviously a practitioner shouldn’t be molesting or otherwise interacting sexually with any of their clients.

But if I were a massage practitioner (which I’m not), and Angelina Jolie came in for some body work, should I recuse myself because she lights a fire in my loins, or is it something you just learn to ignore?

(Obviously, I’m talking about legal massages here. None of this “manual release” stuff. I assume sexual attraction is just a pleasant bonus in those circumstances.)

(Also, I’m asking out of curiousity, not because I’m inspired by a particular circumstance.)

IANACMT. Here’s the American Massage Therapy Association’s Code of Ethics. Therapists are to refrain from sexual contact with clients but there’s no prohibition about working on clients to whom you are sexually attracted.

If you’re going to a massage parlor, it will become immediately obvious if they are open to sexual contact. This is done by asking you “Are you a cop?” (If you are and answer No, that’s entrapment.) If *they *are open to it, they waste no time finding out if you are.

Well, Diadem Diadose, you’re wrong on a number of concepts.
First, a cop can lie to you.
Second, if a cop lies to you and arrests you afterwards, that’s not entrapment. The cop must suggest something to you that you’d otherwise have not considered doing.
Third, your response really has nothing whatsoever to do with what the OP was asking.
Fourth, welcome to the boards!

That answers the GQ portion of my OP. Thanks, Enderw24!

Now, I put this in IMHO because I was wondering if any Dopers are/were massage practitioners (legit massage practitioners, thanks, Diadem) and if they’d had any related experiences.

I didn’t really make that clear from the start, though. So now I’m clarifying. Anyone?

You’re welcome.


That’s embarrassing. Sorry – and belated thanks – Otto!

Well, my ex-S.O. is a massage therapist (of the licensed, highly trained, almost 20 years of experience kind) and after dating him for 4+ years, I’ve heard plenty of war stories.

He always said he managed to develop a sort of professional detatchment from his clients, so that even if he would normally have been sexually attracted to them, his libido sort of disengaged while they were on the massage table. This was very handy, since the place he worked was 2 blocks from Playboy editorial headquarters…some of the editorial staff were his regular clients, and every once in a while, a model would pop in. His co-workers never believed him, though. They always thought he was the luckiest guy in the world.

In any case, clients were always draped with a sheet during the massage, except for whatever part he was working on at the moment. You’d probably see more of what they looked like if they were in their street clothes.

I agree with Eva Luna, they don’t feel sexual if they are professionals.

Certainly one that isn’t obeying ethics wouldn’t be in business very long when word got around that they were molesting their clients.

Well, I was trained as a massage therapist. That is, I went to and graduated from an AMTA accredited massage therapy school. I do not practice.

This was actually a point of some discussion during my training. The general feeling was that you should refer a client to another therapist if your sexual attraction was strong.

There’s a lot of subtlety in massage and there’s a continuum of feeling and behavior on the part of the therapist. It would certainly be possible for a therapist to be thoroughly enjoying massaging a client because of their gorgeous body in a way different from the usual pleasure taken in a job well done, without obviously doing anything that is “molesting” the client.

Not sure I’m really answering the question. Difficulty with this kind of boundary issue was one of the reasons I did not pursue massage as a career despite sinking $$$$ in the education. (I had more problem massaging people whose personalities I didn’t like than those whose bodies I did)

This is what I would’ve guessed – if you’re really attracted to the person on the table, you probably don’t want (from a professional standpoint) to be giving them a massage.

I imagine that, like doctors, LMPs can to some degree “detach” themselves from their feelings about their clients, but that (also like doctors), sometimes the detachment doesn’t work, for whatever reason. Also, massage just seems to me to have an intimacy about it that goes beyond – or is at least very different from – medical care. I’d imagine boundary issues crop up, like it or not.