Remove the Requirement for Written Consent for RMT Treatment
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As of September 11, 2017, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario revised the Standards of Practice for Massage Therapists and now require written consent from all clients each and every time an area that is deemed "sensitive" by the CMTO is to be assessed or treated by an RMT.
Put in practice, this change has the potential to:
- embarrass the client by sexualizing parts of the body (inner thigh, gluteal, chest wall) that a client is otherwise comfortable having treated by their Registered Health Professional;
- act as a deterrent for clients who otherwise would have beneficial treatment performed, who do not want to fill out the paperwork at every treatment, or have the hands-on time reduced to allow for paperwork
- discourage clients who are victims of sexual abuse from filing a complaint if the assault happened during a treatment for which written consent was given
- stigmatize RMTs as needing stricter Standards for routine treatments than other Registered Health Professionals (physiotherapists, chiropractors) and "confirm" the long-held taboo that massage is inherently sexual
- diminish trust in the individual RMT carrying out the assessment and treatment plan, interfering with the client-therapist relationship
In addition, the use of non-anatomical language leaves each individual RMT to determine when written consent is required for treatments of the "inner thigh" and "chest wall", causing confusion among registrants and potentially inconsistent treatment of clients who see more than one therapist, which may further diminish trust in the client-therapist relationship.
- College of Massage Therapists of Ontario
- President, CMTO Council
It is noble work to endeavour to protect the interest and safety of the public, and no doubt a difficult task that faces many ongoing challenges. We commend you and The College for your zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse, however it is our fear that this new Standard requiring written consent for the assessment and treatment of sensitive areas may do more harm than good when put in practice. We, members of the College and members of the public, encourage you to further explore ways to eliminate abuse that will empower massage therapy clients, through education and support, without impacting the public perception of the RMT profession. It is of the utmost importance that massage therapy clients can receive the treatment they need, in an environment that they feel safe and protected. Written consent is not stronger, or more legitimate, than verbal informed consent, and does not inherently reduce the risk of abuse. We implore you to revisit your decision, and to remove the requirement for written consent for RMT treatment.
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