There’s nothing like a good, meaty ethical topic to sink your teeth into, is there? I love ethics and I’m fortunate that a lot of you send me emails or Facebook messages about interesting ethical topics. Every now and then, I am very lucky that one of you gets so passionate about an ethical issue that you offer to write a guest post. Today is my lucky day. Today, I’m fortunate that Tracy Bradley has written a guest post on a very interesting subject – add ons.
Tracy Bradley has been practicing massage therapy in Paris, Arkansas since 2003. She works with headaches, shoulder/neck pain, and overall stress management at The Comfort Zone Massage. Tracy loves purple, peace signs, Coke Cherry, ethics discussions, sarcasm, internet cats, family life, naps, and all types of massage therapy discussions.
It’s not every day that I get to feature a writer from Paris!
Why I won’t sell skinny massage
Things you won’t find on my retail shelf or service menu:
- Skinny massage
- Anti-cellulite products
- Skinny wraps
- Weight loss supplements
- Nutrition shakes/pills/juices
Disclaimer: This post isn’t about my personal opinion about these products. This isn’t about whether or not I think they work. My professional ethics and integrity regarding clients, body image, trust, and money is what this is about.
When someone brings up a “great new product” which makes them “tons” of money from clients I cringe. It’s either an “exclusive” essential oil brand or some kind of fat-hiding/burning product. Why? Why, as licensed/certified massage therapists would we want to sell products which highlight and shame perceived imperfections?
The fat-hiding products bother me on a professional level. Could offering fat-hiding products potentially cause a client to feel shame about his/her body? As professional massage therapists we bring people to a place of trust and understanding. Clients are asked to remove some or all of their clothing allegedly without fear of judgment or scrutiny. We touch people’s skin, massaging indiscriminately over cellulite, moles, scars, freckles, and other unique markings. Did you see those words? “We touch people.” Why would we want to line our walls with products which draw attention to bodily imperfections?
I work with clients of many different body shapes, sizes, and weights. Each person possesses a body image. Many people view different body parts as abnormal, imperfect, fat, or ugly. Often these beliefs are distorted. A person may see past his/her healthy muscle and only be able to see a layer of cellulite. Cellulite naturally occurs on every human body. It isn’t shameful to have it’s natural and probably necessary.
Body image is a fragile thing.
How we speak to clients stays with them. How we handle their little fat jokes about themselves is how they decide how much to trust us. I have a few clients who worked up courage for a year or more to book an appointment. They were afraid of what I might think of their body. If potential clients are that worried about what we think of what we see why would we want to display products that throw their insecurities in their faces? I believe displaying and selling these products can contribute to low self-esteem and poor body image. We could be losing massage clients by selling these products. Who wants to be semi-nude in front of someone who could be scrutinizing him/her? Even if we aren’t scrutinizing bodies the products do.
Scope of Practice
Promoting inch-reducing products also confuses the client/therapist relationship. If we sell skinny wraps the client could see us as weight loss experts. Even though the company provides information about use and lifestyle the client will want more from US. If a client has questions beyond the product literature where will I get the answers? I am not a medical doctor, dietician, or personal trainer. I am not qualified to give advice or develop a weight-loss plan. Clients view us as experts and authority figures. If we sell these products they will think we are weight-loss experts. Is potentially harming a client with possibly incorrect information worth a little money? We are licensed to administer massage therapy not to counsel weight-loss. Restating information from marketing materials is not the same as becoming certified to become a weight-loss counselor.
Is selling weight-loss products, vitamins, and wraps practicing within our scope? This probably varies state to state. In my state our Practice Act (Law) states: (4)(A) “Massage therapy” means the treatment of soft tissues, which may include skin, fascia, and muscles and their dysfunctions for therapeutic purposes of establishing and maintaining good physical condition, comfort, and relief of pain.” Selling wraps that clients take home to apply weekly doesn’t seem to fall into this category. Applying a skinny massage technique would be within this scope. Who knows about selling vitamins and supplements? My opinion? It crosses into the territory of prescribing things, which we are not supposed to do. It appears to be a gray area and I’m sure there will be a great discussion. Discussions are good. I can see things from other perspectives.
What do you think? I’m curious to hear what add on services or products you sell and which ones you won’t and why.
Let’s discuss add ons in the comments below.