What is massage therapy used for?
Massage therapy is used to help manage a health condition or enhance wellness. It involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body. Massage has been practiced in most cultures, both Eastern and Western, throughout human history, and was one of the earliest tools that people used to try to relieve pain.
What are the different types of massage?
The term “massage therapy” includes many techniques. The most common form of massage therapy in Western countries is called Swedish or classical massage; it is the core of most massage training programs. Other styles include sports massage, clinical massage to accomplish specific goals such as releasing muscle spasms, and massage traditions derived from Eastern cultures, such as Shiatsu and Tuina.
Do massages help pain?
Massage therapy has been studied for several types of pain, including low-back pain, neck and shoulder pain, pain from osteoarthritis of the knee, and headaches. Here’s what the science says:
Several evaluations of massage for low-back pain have found only weak evidence that it may be helpful.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in a 2016 evaluation of nondrug therapies for low-back pain, examined 20 studies that compared massage to usual care or other interventions and found that there was evidence that massage was helpful for chronic low-back pain but the strength of the evidence was low. The agency also looked at six studies that compared different types of massage but found that the evidence was insufficient to show whether any types were more effective than others.
A 2015 review of 25 studies with a total of 3,096 participants found that in both acute and chronic low-back pain, there were short-term improvements in pain after massage therapy. However, because the quality of the studies was low, the investigators who conducted the review concluded that they had “very little confidence” that massage is an effective treatment for low-back pain.
Clinical practice guidelines (guidance for health care providers) issued by the American College of Physicians in 2017 included massage therapy as an option for treating acute/subacute low-back pain but did not include massage therapy among the options for treating chronic low-back pain.
Neck and Shoulder Pain
Massage therapy may be helpful for neck or shoulder pain, but the benefits may only last for a short time.
A 2013 review of 12 studies (757 total participants) found that massage therapy was more helpful for both neck and shoulder pain than inactive therapies but was not more effective than other active therapies. For shoulder pain, massage therapy had short-term benefits only.
A 2016 review of 4 studies conducted in the United States (519 participants) found that massage could provide short-term relief of neck pain if massage sessions were long enough and frequent enough.
Osteoarthritis of the Knee
The small amount of research that’s been done on massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee suggests that it may have short-term benefits in relieving knee pain.
Of 6 studies that evaluated massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee (408 total participants), 5 found that it provided short-term pain relief. Two of the studies that showed pain relief (149 participants) involved the use of essential oils (aromatherapy massage).
For more information, see NCCIH’s fact sheet on osteoarthritis.
Only a small number of studies of massage for headache have been completed. These studies looked at different types of massage and different types of headache, and their results are not consistent.
A 2016 study with 64 participants evaluated 2 types of massage (lymphatic drainage and traditional massage), once a week for 8 weeks, in patients with migraine. The frequency of migraines decreased in both groups, compared with people on a waiting list.
In a 2015 study, 56 people with tension headaches were assigned to receive massage at myofascial trigger points or an inactive treatment (detuned ultrasound) twice a week for 6 weeks or to be on a waiting list. People who received either massage or the inactive treatment had a decrease in the frequency of headaches, but there was no difference between the two groups.
A 2011 study evaluated the effect of adding hand massage to multimodal behavior treatment of migraine in 83 people. Hand massage had no effect on migraine frequency.
For more information, see NCCIH’s fact sheet on headaches.
Can masage help cancer patients?
With appropriate precautions, massage therapy can be part of supportive care for cancer patients who would like to try it; however, the evidence that it can relieve pain and anxiety is not strong.
Massage therapy, with or without aromatherapy (the use of essential oils) has been used to attempt to relieve pain, anxiety, and other symptoms in people with cancer. A 2016 evaluation of 19 studies (more than 1,200 participants) of massage for cancer patients found some evidence that massage might help with pain and anxiety, but the quality of the evidence was very low (because most studies were small and some may have been biased), and findings were not consistent.
Clinical practice guidelines (guidance for health care providers) for the care of breast cancer patients include massage as one of several approaches that may be helpful for stress reduction, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and quality of life. Clinical practice guidelines for the care of lung cancer patients suggest that massage therapy could be added as part of supportive care in patients whose anxiety or pain is not adequately controlled by usual care.
Massage therapists may need to modify their usual techniques when working with cancer patients; for example, they may have to use less pressure than usual in areas that are sensitive because of cancer or cancer treatments.
For more information, see NCCIH’s fact sheet on cancer.
Can massage be helpful for fibromyalgia symptoms?
Massage therapy may be helpful for some fibromyalgia symptoms if it’s continued for long enough.
A 2014 evaluation of 9 studies (404 total participants) concluded that massage therapy, if continued for at least 5 weeks, improved pain, anxiety, and depression in people with fibromyalgia but did not have an effect on sleep disturbance.
A 2015 evaluation of 10 studies (478 total participants) compared the effects of different kinds of massage therapy and found that most styles of massage had beneficial effects on quality of life in people with fibromyalgia. Swedish massage may be an exception; 2 studies of this type of massage (56 total participants) did not show benefits.
For more information, see NCCIH’s fact sheet on fibromyalgia.
Can massage therapy be helpful for people with HIV/AIDS?
There’s some evidence that massage therapy may have benefits for anxiety, depression, and quality of life in people with HIV/AIDS, but the amount of research and number of people studied are small.
Massage therapy may help improve the quality of life for people with HIV or AIDS, a 2010 review of 4 studies with a total of 178 participants concluded.
More recently, a 2013 study of 54 people indicated that massage may be helpful for depression in people with HIV, and a 2017 study of 29 people with HIV suggested that massage may be helpful for anxiety.
Does massage help baby growth?
There’s evidence that premature babies who are massaged may have improved weight gain. No benefits of massage for normal full-term infants have been clearly demonstrated.
A 2017 research review analyzed the results of 34 studies of massage therapy for premature infants. Twenty of the studies (1,250 total infants) evaluated the effect of massage on weight gain, with most showing an improvement. The mechanism by which massage therapy might increase weight gain is not well understood. Some studies suggested other possible benefits of massage but because the amount of evidence is small, no conclusions can be reached about effects other than weight gain.
A 2013 review of 34 studies of healthy full-term infants didn’t find clear evidence of beneficial effects of massage in these low-risk infants.
What are the risks of massage therapy?
The risk of harmful effects from massage therapy appears to be low. However, there have been rare reports of serious side effects, such as a blood clot, nerve injury, or bone fracture. Some of the reported cases have involved vigorous types of massage, such as deep tissue massage, or patients who might be at increased risk of injury, such as elderly people.
What are the requirements to become a massage therapist?
In states that regulate massage therapy (45 states and the District of Columbia), therapists must get a license or certification before practicing massage. State regulations typically require graduation from an approved program and passing an examination.
Some massage therapists obtain certification from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. To do this, they must meet specific educational requirements, undergo a background check, and pass an examination.
NCCIH-sponsored studies have investigated various aspects of massage therapy, including
Whether massage therapy can be helpful in preventing and treating repetitive motion disorders
If massage can be helpful as a component of a nondrug approach to pain management in veterans
If massage therapy can target sensory pathways that can help people with ankle sprains avoid chronic ankle instability (which can affect as many as 40 percent of people who experience this type of injury).
Tips To Consider
For More Information
The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
Toll-free in the U.S.:
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.
To provide resources that help answer health questions, MedlinePlus (a service of the National Library of Medicine) brings together authoritative information from the National Institutes of Health as well as other Government agencies and health-related organizations.
NIH Clinical Research Trials and You
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a website, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through ClinicalTrials.gov and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews is a collection of evidence-based reviews produced by the Cochrane Library, an international nonprofit organization. The reviews summarize the results of clinical trials on health care interventions. Summaries are free; full-text reviews are by subscription only.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Noninvasive Treatments for Low Back Pain. AHRQ Publication No. 16-EHC004-EF. February 2016.
Bennett C, Underdown A, Barlow J. Massage for promoting mental and physical health in typically developing infants under the age of six months. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;(4):CD005038. Accessed at http://www.cochranelibrary.com (link is external) on January 21, 2017.
Cortés Godoy V, Gallego Izquierdo T, Lázaro Navas I, et al. Effectiveness of massage therapy as co-adjuvant treatment to exercise in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation. 2014;27(4):521-529.
Furlan AD, Giraldo M, Baskwill A, et al. Massage for low-back pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015;(9):CD001929. Accessed at www.cochranelibrary.com (link is external) on January 26, 2017.
Happe S, Peikert A, Siegert R, et al. The efficacy of lymphatic drainage and traditional massage in the prophylaxis of migraine: a randomized, controlled parallel group study. Neurological Sciences. 2016;37(10):1627-1632.
Hillier SL, Louw Q, Morris L, et al. Massage therapy for people with HIV/AIDS. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2010;(1):CD007502. Accessed at www.cochranelibrary.com (link is external) on August 18, 2017.
Niemi A-K. Review of randomized controlled trials of massage in preterm infants. Children. 2017;4(4):pii:E21
Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, et al. Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2017;166(7):514-530.
Shin ES, Seo KH, Lee SH, et al. Massage with or without aromatherapy for symptom relief in people with cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016;(6):CD009873. Accessed at www.cochranelibrary.com (link is external) on January 26, 2017.
Yin P, Gao N, Wu J, et al. Adverse events of massage therapy in pain-related conditions: a systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;2014;480956.
NCCIH thanks Lanay Mudd, Ph.D., and David Shurtleff, Ph.D., NCCIH, for their technical expertise and review of the 2019 update of this publication.
This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.
Massage Therapy is a regulated health profession in Ontario. It is governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (the RHPA) and the Massage Therapy Act, 1991. The RHPA requires that regulatory Colleges such as the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (the College) develop, establish and maintain standards of professional ethics for Massage Therapists. College documents such as the Standards of Practice and the Professional Misconduct Regulation set out explicit expectations with respect to ethical behaviour and attitudes. In addition, the College’s Code of Ethics supports Massage Therapists in understanding and applying the ethical principles and values which are foundational to the practice of the profession.
As regulated health professionals, Massage Therapists must ensure they maintain the public’s confidence in the profession and provide the highest level of safe, ethical and quality Massage Therapy care. This is accomplished by exercising professional judgement and integrity.
The College’s Code of Ethics is grounded in four ethical principles:
Benefit Clients and Serve Their Best Interests
To fulfill the goal of benefiting clients and serving their best interests, Massage Therapists endeavour to positively contribute to their clients’ health and well-being.
Treat all Clients with Respect and Dignity
To fulfill the goal of treating clients with respect and dignity, Massage Therapists treat all clients with compassion and consideration of the client’s right to be the decision maker in their healthcare.
Not Harm Clients
To fulfill the goal of not harming clients, Massage Therapists take every precaution to prevent harm to clients.
Be Responsible and Accountable
To fulfill the goal of being responsible and accountable, Massage Therapists act in the best interest of the client and not in the interest of the Massage Therapist. Massage Therapists are accountable, not just for their own actions and behaviors, but for those of the broader profession as well. This document explains the behaviours, actions and attitudes that support the four ethical principles listed above.
Who does the College’s Code of Ethics apply to?
The College’s Code of Ethics provides guidance to all Massage Therapists in Ontario, regardless of practice context. It can also be used by Massage Therapy students, educators, researchers and others associated or working with Massage Therapists in Ontario.
Using Professional Judgement
As the Code of Ethics provides Massage Therapists with ethical guidance, Massage Therapists may encounter situations in which they will need to apply their professional judgement in interpreting and applying relevant principles and guidelines.
In interpreting the Code of Ethics, Massage Therapists may refer to the accompanying Glossary of Terms.
Principle 1: Benefit Clients and Serve Their Best Interests
To fulfil the goal of benefiting clients and serving their best interests, Massage Therapists:
a) commit to benefiting clients and serving clients’ best interests by using their knowledge, skill and professional judgement;
b) ensure that their professional knowledge and skill are current and evidence-informed, based on clinical research, practice context, client perspective and practitioner experience;
c) clearly provide clients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare;
d) encourage client engagement and focus on client goals and preferences;
e) use oral and written communication to facilitate client understanding and conflict resolution;
f) are aware of and attentive to transference and counter-transference in the client-Massage Therapist relationship; and
g) are knowledgeable about other regulated health professions and work collaboratively with other professionals to improve client care, reduce risks, increase client safety and optimize health outcomes.
Principle 2: Treat all Clients with Respect and Dignity
To fulfill the goal of treating all clients with respect and dignity, Massage Therapists:
a) recognize clients’ ethical and legal rights to be the decision makers in their healthcare;
b) obtain client’s informed consent to treatment prior to providing care and respect the client’s right to accept or refuse treatment without prejudice;
c) recognize the power imbalance inherent in the client-Massage Therapist relationship and maintain professional boundaries;
d) keep client health and personal information confidential, except with the consent of the client or as required by law;
e) provide clients with advance notice and a referral when discharging them from care; and
f) provide fair and equitable access and consistent quality care to all clients, free of discrimination based on the protected grounds and social areas outlined in the Ontario Human Rights Code1.
Principle 3: Not Harm Clients
To fulfill the goal of not harming clients, Massage Therapists:
a) refrain from participating in behaviours that could potentially harm clients, and make every reasonable effort to prevent harm to clients;
b) do not, under any circumstance, participate in any form of sexual behaviour with clients, including “consensual” behaviours”2;
c) do not, under any circumstance, participate in any form of harassment of clients, colleagues, other health professionals or employees;
d) ensure they are not impaired in their professional ability by any physical or mental condition or disorder and have the knowledge, skill and judgement to practise Massage Therapy safely;
e) practise only within their Scope of Practice, recognize their limitations and refer, when appropriate, to a colleague or other health professional whose expertise can best address client needs;
f) act with honesty and transparency if harm does occur, take responsibility for disclosing this harm to the client and initiate steps to minimize the harm and prevent future occurrences;
g) ensure they provide clients with the information they need to make informed decisions regarding treatment, and obtain clients’ informed consent prior to treatment;
h) avoid dual relationships3;
i) ensure that the client-Massage Therapist relationship is not exploited by the Massage Therapist for any real, perceived or potential personal, social, emotional and/or financial reason(s) or conflict of interest;
j) provide therapeutic touch thoughtfully and tactfully in a sensitive and professional manner;
k) maintain a clean, hygienic and safe working environment; and
l) ensure that client and business records are securely retained.
Principle 4: Be Responsible and Accountable
To fulfill the goal of being responsible and accountable, Massage Therapists:
a) individually and collectively have a professional responsibility to maintain public trust and confidence;
b) conduct themselves with personal and professional integrity at all times;
c) assume responsibility for their actions and decisions as healthcare professionals;
d) assume responsibility for upholding their ethical and professional obligations and for advising employers when these conflict with employer expectations;
e) maintain clear, legible and comprehensive client and business records;
f) meet all mandatory reporting obligations4, and consider reporting any other unethical behaviour;
g) meaningfully participate in advancing Career Span Competencies and continuing professional development through self-evaluation of practice and appropriately respond to the outcomes of evaluations and assessments;
h) commit to self-care and personal health and wellness;
i) recognize their right to refuse care to clients who:
I. sexualize or attempt to sexualize the therapeutic relationship;
II. physically abuse or threaten to abuse the Massage Therapist; or
III. are unable or unwilling to provide payment for care requested;
j) responsibly use private and public healthcare resources to care for clients;
k) responsibly use electronic communication, social media and other forms of digital technology;
l) do not participate in any kind of fraud, including but not limited to fraudulent billing practices;
m) do not participate in any form of conduct, advertising or promotion that discredits or reflects poorly on the profession or breaches public trust and confidence;
n) demonstrate the integrity and professionalism expected of a Massage Therapist as a regulated health professional5; and
o) do not justify unethical behaviour by rationalizing that such behavior is not explicitly articulated in this document or other legislation or regulation.
Massage therapists will accurately inform patients/clients, other health care practitioners and the public regarding the scope of their discipline and will represent their personal qualifications honestly, including education, experience, and professional affiliations upon request or in advertising.
Massage therapists will have a sincere commitment to provide the highest quality of care to those who seek their professional services, and will provide only those services which they are qualified to perform.
Massage therapists will provide treatment only when there is a reasonable expectation that it will be advantageous to the patient/client. The therapist will acknowledge the limitations, precautions, and the contraindications for their practice, and will refer patients/clients to other licensed health care professionals when the patient's/client's needs are outside of the therapist's scope of practice.
Massage therapists will conduct their business and professional activities with honesty and integrity, and will act with respect toward colleagues, including all other health professionals.
Massage therapists will avoid any interest, activities, or influences which might conflict with their obligation to act in the best interest of their patients/clients.
Massage therapists will safeguard the confidentiality of all patient/client information, including patient/client records, unless disclosure is required by law or court order. Any situation which requires the revelation of confidential information should be clearly delineated in records of massage therapists.
Massage therapists will respect the patient's/client's right to an informed and voluntary consent for the release of patient/client information. Massage therapists will obtain and keep a record of the informed consent of the patient/client, or, in the case of a minor, of the person in parental responsibility before releasing information, unless required by law to do so.
Massage therapists will respect the patient's/client's right to refuse, modify or terminate treatment, regardless of prior consent for such treatment.
Massage therapists will not cause the patient/client more pain than the patient/client is willing to accept, nor will they exert any psychological pressure to induce the patient/client to accept a level of pain higher than the patient/client has expressly agreed to experience.
When massage of breast tissue is therapeutically indicated, the female patient/client must be fully informed and give consent before the therapist undrapes the breast for treatment.
Massage therapists will respect the patient's/client's boundaries with regard to privacy, exposure, emotional expression, beliefs and reasonable expectations of professional behavior. Therapists will respect the patient's/client's autonomy.
Massage therapists will avoid exerting undue influence on patients/clients and will never engage in sexual behavior during the course of the professional relationship. The therapist should not engage in sexual conduct or activities, even if the patient/client attempts to sexualize the relationship.
No manipulation of the genital areas is permitted, even at the patient's/client's request.
Massage of genital areas and massage of a patient/client who is not properly draped for massage shall be considered immoral conduct.
The practice of massage by a massage therapist who is not properly dressed shall be considered immoral conduct.
Draping includes methods used by a massage therapist to protect modesty, privacy, warmth and/or comfort of a patient/client by the use of sheets, towels, blankets or any item that serves this purpose.
Massage therapists do not discriminate in providing services to patients/clients based upon culture, ethnicity, age gender, belief, or sexual orientation. Massage therapists may, however, restrict their practice to specific age, gender groups, or to specific conditions as long as this is consistent and not arbitrarily applied.
Massage therapists will maintain their premises, including supplies, in a sanitary manner. This includes adherence to techniques of communicable disease control (universal precautions).
Massage therapists are expected to maintain competency in their practice. This can be done by taking continuing education classes and workshops, and by the independent reading of research and technique materials.
Massage therapists will not practice under the influence of prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, alcohol, drugs or any other illegal substances which can impair their functioning.
Missouri Laws 324.265 – Massage therapists, qualifications of applicants — waiver, when — licensure …
324.265. Massage therapists, qualifications of applicants — waiver, when — licensure term, renewal — student license, when — provisional license, when — exemptions — exemptions for certain therapists licensed in other jurisdictions. — 1. A person desiring a license to practice massage therapy shall be at least eighteen years of age, shall be of good moral character, shall pay the appropriate required application fee, and shall submit satisfactory evidence to the board of meeting at least one of the following requirements:
Terms Used In Missouri Laws 324.265
following: when used by way of reference to any section of the statutes, mean the section next preceding or next following that in which the reference is made, unless some other section is expressly designated in the reference. See Missouri Laws 1.020
person: may extend and be applied to bodies politic and corporate, and to partnerships and other unincorporated associations. See Missouri Laws 1.020
State: when applied to any of the United States, includes the District of Columbia and the territories, and the words "United States" includes such district and territories. See Missouri Laws 1.020
United States: includes such district and territories. See Missouri Laws 1.020
(1) Has passed a statistically valid examination on therapeutic massage and body work which is approved by the board, prior to August 28, 1999, and applies for such license by December 31, 2000; or
(2) Has completed a program of massage therapy studies, as defined by the board, consisting of at least five hundred hours of supervised instruction and subsequently passing an examination approved by the board. The examination may consist of school examinations. The program and course of instruction shall be approved by the board.
(a) The five hundred hours of supervised instruction shall consist of three hundred hours dedicated to massage theory and practice techniques, one hundred hours dedicated to the study of anatomy and physiology, fifty hours dedicated to business practice, professional ethics, hygiene and massage law in the state of Missouri, and fifty hours dedicated to ancillary therapies, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
(b) A person completing a massage therapy program comprised of less than five hundred hours of supervised instruction may submit an application for licensure and the board shall establish requirements for the applicant to complete the requirements of paragraph (a) of subdivision (2) of this subsection.
2. A person who has practiced less than three years or has less than one hundred hours of training may request a waiver of the requirements of subsection 1 of this section and apply for a temporary two-year license which shall not be renewable. By the end of such two-year period, such person shall complete at least one hundred additional hours of formal training, including at least twenty-five hours in anatomy and physiology, in a school approved by the board. Such person shall have until December 31, 2000, to apply for a temporary license pursuant to this subsection.
3. Each license issued pursuant to the provisions of this section shall expire on its renewal date. The board shall renew any license upon:
(1) Application for renewal;
(2) Proof, as provided by rule, that the therapist has completed twelve hours of continuing education; and
(3) Payment of the appropriate renewal fee.
Failure to obtain the required continuing education hours, submit satisfactory evidence, or maintain required documentation is a violation of this subsection. As provided by rule, the board may waive or extend the time requirements for completion of continuing education for reasons related to health, military service, foreign residency, or other good cause. All requests for waivers or extensions of time shall be made in writing and submitted to the board before the renewal date.
4. An applicant who possesses the qualifications specified in subsection 2 of this section to take the examination approved by the board may be granted a provisional license to engage in the practice of massage therapy. An applicant for a provisional license shall submit proof that the applicant has applied for the examination approved by the board. A provisional license shall be valid for one year from the date of issuance and shall be deemed void upon its expiration date. A provisional licensee is prohibited from practicing massage therapy after expiration of the provisional license.
5. As determined by the board, students making substantial progress toward completion of their training in an approved curriculum shall be granted a student license for the purpose of practicing massage therapy on the public while under the supervision of a massage therapy instructor.
6. A student license may be renewed until the student completes such student’s training. Upon request, the board may extend a provisional license for good cause at the discretion of the board. An application for the extension of a provisional license shall be submitted to the board prior to the expiration of the provisional license.
7. The following practitioners are exempt from the provisions of this section upon filing written proof with the board that they meet one or more of the following:
(1) Persons who act under a Missouri state license, registration, or certification and perform soft tissue manipulation within their scope of practice;
(2) Persons who restrict their manipulation of the soft tissues of the human body to the hands, feet or ears;
(3) Persons who use touch and words to deepen awareness of existing patterns of movement in the human body as well as to suggest new possibilities of movement;
(4) Persons who manipulate the human body above the neck, below the elbow, and below the knee and do not disrobe the client in performing such manipulation.
8. Any nonresident person licensed, registered, or certified by another state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or foreign territory or recognized certification system determined as acceptable by the board shall be exempt from licensure as defined in this chapter, if such persons are incidentally called into the state to teach a course related to massage or body work therapy or to provide massage therapy services as part of an emergency response team working in conjunction with disaster relief officials.
9. Any nonresident person holding a current license, registration, or certification in massage therapy from another state or recognized national certification system determined as acceptable by the board shall be exempt from licensure as defined in this chapter when temporarily present in this state for the purpose of providing massage therapy services at special events such as conventions, sporting events, educational field trips, conferences, and traveling shows or exhibitions.
Chapter 13A - MASSAGE THERAPISTS AND MASSAGE FACILITIES
--- (1) ---
Editor's note— Ord. No. 5730, § 1, adopted Feb. 10, 2004, repealed ch. 13A §§ 13A-1—13A-25, in its entirety and enacted new provisions to read as herein set out. Prior to amendment, ch. 13A pertained to massage establishments and similar businesses and derived from Ord. No. 2408, §§ 1—25, adopted Jan. 25, 1977.
Sec. 13A-1. - Definitions.
Massage business or facility shall mean an establishment where any person performs massage or permits massage therapy to be performed. The operator of a massage business or facility must obtain a massage facility business license pursuant to section 13A-3 of this section.
Massage therapist shall mean a person who has completed all requirements of this chapter for a massage therapist business license in order to practice massage within the city. Upon receipt of a massage therapist business license from the City of Grandview, a massage therapist may perform massage, but only at a licensed massage facility, or as in-office massage pursuant to section 13A-8.
Massage therapy shall mean a health care profession which involves the treatment of the body's tonus system through the scientific or skillful touching, rubbing, pressing or other movements of the soft tissues of the body with the hands, forearms, elbows, or feet, or with the aid of mechanical apparatus, for relaxation, therapeutic, remedial or health maintenance purposes to enhance the mental and physical well-being of the client, but does not include the prescription of medication, spinal or joint manipulation, the diagnosis of illness or disease, or any service or procedure for which a license to practice medicine, chiropractic, physical therapy, or podiatry is required by law, or to those occupations defined in Chapter 329, RSMo.
Office shall mean a business, licensed as a business pursuant to this chapter, other than a home occupation as defined by the adopted zoning ordinance of the City of Grandview.
Patron shall mean any person who receives massage subject to the provisions of this article under circumstances wherein it is reasonably expected that the patron will pay money or give any other consideration therefor.
Sexual or genital areas shall mean the genitals, pubic area, anus or perineum of any person, and the vulva or breasts of a female.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(1), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-2. - Massage therapist business license.
It shall be unlawful for any person to perform massage within the City of Grandview without first obtaining a massage therapist business license, pursuant to this article. A complete application shall be submitted to the city clerk.
License application. An applicant for a massage therapist business license must furnish the city clerk with a valid photo identification issued by an agency of either the State of Missouri or the United States of America, and an original or certified copy of the massage therapy certificate/license issued to the applicant by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Professional Registration, Missouri State Board of Therapeutic Massage, and the full license fee of thirty dollars ($30.00).
Application review. The city clerk shall obtain confirmation from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Professional Registration, Missouri State Board of Therapeutic Massage that the certificate/license presented by the applicant is not under suspension or revocation, and remains in good standing.
Display of license/limitations on off-premise massage. The massage therapist business license shall be displayed at all times by the licensee openly and conspicuously on the premises of the massage facility where the massage is performed. All massage shall be performed in the licensed massage facility, except in-office massage as defined and regulated by this division. But a licensed massage therapist may perform massage on behalf of a patient in the patient's home, residence or other designated place if the patient's licensed physician files a signed, written statement with the city clerk, twenty-four (24) hours prior to performance of the massage, that the patient is bedfast or so physically incapacitated that it is impractical to perform the massage on the patient at the massage facility.
Exemptions. Practitioners who are exempt from the provisions of the Missouri Massage Therapy licensing law, RSMo 324.240, et seq., shall not be required to obtain a massage therapist business license under the provisions of this division.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(2), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-3. - Massage facility business license required.
License application. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or maintain a massage facility in the City of Grandview without first obtaining a massage facility business license pursuant to this article. A complete application shall be submitted to the city clerk. The massage facility business license shall be in addition to any other business license, including any massage therapist business license, required by Chapter 13 of this Code of the owner or operator of the massage facility.
License fee; Missouri professional certification required. An applicant for a massage facility business license must furnish the city clerk with the original massage business license issued to the applicant by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Professional Registration, Missouri State Board of Therapeutic Massage and a fee of one hundred dollars ($100.00) for each massage facility.
Application review. The city clerk shall obtain confirmation from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Professional Registration, Missouri State Board of Therapeutic Massage that the massage facility business license presented by the applicant is not under suspension or revocation, and remains in good standing. Approval by the city clerk of a massage facility business license shall also be contingent on the following:
Location of facility. The massage facility must be located in an appropriate zoning district, as provided in the adopted zoning ordinance.
Location in hotel or motel. The massage facility may be located in a hotel or motel only in a space specifically designated and dedicated for that purpose by responsible and identifiable hotel or motel management. The space so designated and dedicated shall be used solely for massage services and for no other purpose at any time.
Inspection by the building official and regulations. No massage facility business license shall be approved by the city clerk unless the building official certifies to the city clerk that the facility complies with each of these minimum requirements:
The walls shall be clean and painted with washable, mold-resistant paint in all rooms where massage is provided. Floors shall be free from any accumulation of dust, dirt or refuse. All equipment used in the business operation shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition. Towels, linens and items for personal use of massage therapists, employees and patrons shall be in sufficient quantity so that none is used for more than one (1) person. Heavy, white paper may be substituted for sheets if such paper is changed for each patron. No cubicle, room, booth or any area within the facility where service is to be provided patrons shall be fitted with a door capable of being locked from the inside.
Toilet facilities shall be provided in convenient locations. When the facility is designed to accommodate any combination of five (5) or more massage therapists, employees and patrons of different sexes on the premises at the same time, separate toilet facilities shall be provided. A single water closet per sex shall be provided for any combination of twenty (20) or more massage therapists, employees or patrons that the establishment is designed to accommodate on the premises at any one time. Urinals may be substituted for water closets after one (1) water closet has been provided. Toilets shall be designated as to the sex accommodated therein.
Lavatories or wash basins provided with both hot and cold running water shall be installed in either the toilet room or vestibule. Lavatories or wash basins shall be provided with soap in a dispenser and with sanitary towels.
Display of license. The massage facility business license shall be displayed at all times by the licensee openly and conspicuously on the premises of the massage facility where the massage is performed.
Responsibility of license holder. The holder of a massage facility business license may hire or contract with massage therapists holding valid massage therapist business licenses from the City of Grandview to perform massage at the facility. Massage facility business licensees are at all times responsible for any act or conduct in violation of this chapter of any massage therapist on the massage facility premises.
Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to eliminate other requirements of statute, regulation or ordinance concerning the maintenance of such premises, nor preclude authorized inspection thereof.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(3), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-4. - No transfer of license.
Massage facility business licenses and massage therapist business licenses are not transferable and such authority as a license confers shall be conferred only on the location or person identified therein.
Fees paid and licenses obtained pursuant to this article shall be in addition to and not in lieu of any other fees or licenses required to be paid or obtained pursuant to this Code or any other ordinances of this city.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(4), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-5. - Operating regulations.
Operation of a massage facility shall be subject to the following regulations:
Hours. The facility shall be closed and operations shall cease between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 6:00 a.m. each day.
Separation of sexes. It shall be unlawful for patrons of opposite sex to receive massage in the same room at the same time.
Danger to safety, health. No service shall be provided which in the opinion of the building official would impair the safety or health of any person and after such notice in writing to the licensee from such officer.
Alcoholic beverages. No intoxicating liquor or non-intoxicating beer, nor the consumption thereof, shall be permitted on any premises licensed pursuant to this article.
Conduct on premises. All persons holding a massage facility business license shall at all times be responsible for the conduct of business on the licensed premises, and for any act or conduct of any massage therapist utilizing the facility which constitutes a violation of the provisions in this chapter. Any violation of city, state or federal laws committed on the licensed premises by any such holder of a massage facility business license, holder of a massage therapist business license, or employee of the facility that affects the eligibility or suitability of such person to hold a license, may be grounds for suspension or revocation of the business license.
Sanitation of premises. All portions of a licensed facility, including appliances, shall be kept clean and operated in a sanitary condition.
Sanitation of massage therapists and employees. All massage therapists shall be clean and wear clean clothes. Provisions for a separate massage therapist/employee dressing room for each sex must be available on the premises with individual lockers for each massage therapist and employee. Doors to such dressing rooms shall open inward.
Dress of massage therapists and employees. At all times all massage therapists and employees must be fully and modestly dressed in opaque attire that does not expose to view any sexual or genital areas.
Dress of patrons. The sexual and genital areas of a patron must be covered by towels, cloths or undergarments when the patron is in the presence of a massage therapist or employee. Any contact with a patron's sexual or genital areas is strictly prohibited.
Laundry. All sheets and towels provided patrons in massage facilities shall be clean and laundered after each use and stored in a sanitary manner.
Cleaning premises. Wet and dry heat rooms, shower compartments and toilet rooms shall be thoroughly cleaned each day the facility is in operation. Bathtubs shall be thoroughly cleaned after each use.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(5), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-6. - Advertising.
No massage therapist or massage facility operator licensed pursuant to this article shall place, publish or distribute or cause to be placed, published or distributed any advertising matter pertaining to massage that would reasonably suggest to prospective patrons that any service is available other than massage as defined in and regulated by this division; or that massage therapists or employees are dressed in any manner other than required by this division.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(6), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-7. - Inspections, immediate right of entry.
The Grandview Police Department and/or the building official or his designee may from time to time inspect a licensed massage facility to determine compliance with any provisions of this article.
It shall be unlawful for any person holding a massage facility business license, a massage therapist business license or an employee of such licensee to refuse such inspection officer immediate access to the premises or to hinder such officer in any manner; such refusal or hindrance on the part of any license holder or employee shall be grounds for the immediate revocation or suspension of any relevant massage therapist or massage facility business license.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(7), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-8. - In-office massage.
Massage therapists licensed pursuant to this article who perform massage in massage facilities licensed pursuant to this article may perform massage in an office separate from the massage facility subject to the following:
At least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the date the in-office massage is performed the massage therapist performing the massage must provide the following information to the city clerk:
Name and location of the office where the massage is to be performed;
Name of massage therapist performing the massage;
Dates and times when the massage will be performed;
Number of persons to receive in-office massage; and
The number of the business license pursuant to which the office where the massage will be performed conducts business, or, if the office is exempt from such licensing, the grounds for the exemption.
Massage shall be limited to above the waist only.
The patron and massage therapist must be fully clothed at all times.
No intoxicating liquor or non-intoxicating beer shall be present on the premises in which the office is located.
In-office massage shall occur only between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The Grandview Police Department and/or the building official may inspect any office where the city has notice, pursuant to this section, of in-office massage, or where the department or building official has reason to believe in-office massage is occurring, to determine compliance with any provisions of this article.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(8), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-9. - Suspension/revocation.
Authority to suspend or revoke license. The board of aldermen may suspend or revoke a massage therapist or massage facility business license when it finds that:
Any of the provisions of this chapter or Chapter 13 entitled "Licenses" are violated, or
The licensee or any employee of the licensee has been convicted of any offense described in this chapter.
Procedure. The procedure for suspension or revocation shall be as provided in Chapter 13 of this code, but the chief of police or his designee may temporarily suspend a massage therapist or massage facility business license pending a hearing before the board of aldermen if the chief believes a failure to do so would impair public health, safety or welfare.
Surrender of identification card. A massage therapist whose massage therapist business license is suspended or revoked shall immediately surrender to the chief of police or his designee the identification card associated with the license.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(9), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-10. - Therapeutic massage schools.
Missouri certificate to operate required. A school offering massage training must first obtain a certificate to operate as a therapeutic massage school from the Missouri Department of Higher Education. Any student of such school may perform massage as part of the curriculum training, provided that:
The student does not represent himself or herself as a licensed massage therapist;
Neither the student nor an instructor receives compensation for the massage; and
Any massage a student performs is personally supervised by a qualified school instructor.
Display of certificate. Any such school shall prominently display a Missouri Department of Higher Education Certificate to operate as such.
Compliance with zoning ordinance. Therapeutic massage schools shall comply with the regulations contained in adopted zoning ordinance for business or trade schools.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(10), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-11. - Renewal of licenses.
Issuance and notification of renewal. Massage facility and massage therapist business licenses shall be issued annually. The first license shall be effective upon approval, and expire December 31 of that year. Renewal notices will be mailed by the city clerk by October 15, to the licensee at the address appearing on the licensee's most recent application, or the most recent address the licensee has provided the city clerk.
Contents; when due. Renewal applications must be received by the city clerk no later than November 1. Applications to renew a massage therapist business license or massage facility business license shall satisfy the requirements of an original application and, in the case of an application to renew a massage therapist business license, be accompanied by confirmation from the Missouri Department of Economic Development, Division of Professional Registration, Missouri State Board of Therapeutic Massage that the certificate/license presented by the applicant is not under suspension or revocation, and remains in good standing
Non-renewal of license. If any renewal application contains information that, in the city clerk's opinion, does not warrant renewal or if other information known to the city clerk indicates that renewal is not warranted, the city clerk shall notify the applicant in writing, mailed by regular mail no later than November 15 to the applicant at the address on the renewal application, that the license renewal application is denied. In that case the applicant may contact the city clerk by December 1 that applicant desires a public hearing before the board of aldermen. So notified, the city clerk shall schedule the hearing and the board of aldermen shall decide the matter.
Effective date of license. A renewed license shall be effective January 1. If a licensee fails to obtain renewal in the manner or within the time limits herein prescribed, the license shall expire at midnight December 31.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(11), 2-10-04)
Sec. 13A-12. - Persons under age eighteen (18).
No person shall permit any person under the age of eighteen (18) years to come or remain on the premises of a massage facility as a massage therapist or employee of a massage therapist or massage facility.
A person under the age of eighteen (18) years may be a patron of a massage therapist only if, while at all times as a patron, the person possesses written, signed consent of a custodial parent or legal guardian.
(Ord. No. 5730, § 2(12), 2-10-04)
THERAPY NEVER INCLUDES SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
Holon Inclusive Medical System want the public to know that professional therapy never includes sexual contact between a therapist and a client. It also never includes inappropriate sexual suggestions, or any other kind of sexual behavior between a therapist and a client. Sexual contact of any kind between a therapist and a client is unethical and illegal. Additionally, with regard to former clients, sexual contact within two years after termination of therapy is also illegal and unethical. It is always the responsibility of the therapist to ensure that sexual contact with a client, whether consensual or not, does not occur.
Table of Contents
Sexual behavior between a therapist and a client can harm the client. Harm may arise from the therapist’s exploitation of the client to fulfill his or her own needs or desires, and from the therapist’s loss of the objectivity necessary for effective therapy. All therapists are trained and educated to know that this kind of behavior is illegal and unethical.
Therapists are trusted and respected by their clients, and it is not uncommon for clients to admire and feel attracted to them. However, a therapist who accepts or encourages the expression of these feelings through sexual behavior with the client—or tells a client that sexual involvement is part of therapy—violates the therapeutic relationship, and engages in conduct that may be illegal and unethical. This kind of abusive behavior can cause harmful, long-lasting, emotional, and psychological effects to the client.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Throughout this booklet, the terms “therapist,” “therapy,” and “client” will be used. “Therapist” refers to anyone who is licensed to practice psychotherapy, or is training to become licensed, and includes:
Physicians and Surgeons (Psychiatrists are Physicians and Surgeons)
Licensed Clinical Social Workers
Registered Associate Clinical Social Workers
Social Work Interns
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists
Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors
Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselors
Professional Clinical Counselor Trainees
Licensed Educational Psychologists
Registered Research Psychoanalysts
“Therapy” includes any type of counseling from any of the licensed or registered professionals listed above1.
“Client” refers to anyone receiving therapy, or counseling, or other services.
“Sexual contact” means the touching of an intimate part of another person, including sexual intercourse.
“Sexual behavior” means inappropriate contact or communication of a sexual nature. This definition does not include the provision of appropriate therapeutic interventions relating to sexual issues.
“Touching” means physical contact with another person either through the person’s clothes or directly with the person’s skin.
“Intimate part” means the sexual organ, anus, groin, or buttocks of any person, and the breast of a female.
“License” includes certificate, registration, or other means to engage in a business or profession regulated by Chapter 1, General Provisions, section 475 of the Business and Professions Code.
1Social Work Interns, Marriage and Family Therapist Trainees, and Professional Clinical Counselor Trainees are still in their master’s degree program and have not yet earned their graduate degree. They also are not registered with the Board of Behavioral Sciences yet. Complaints about these individuals should be directed to their supervisor, the agency that employs them, or their academic institution.
You, as a client, have the right to:
Request and receive information about the therapist’s professional capabilities, including licensure, education, training, experience, professional association membership, specialization, and limitations.
Be treated with dignity and respect.
A safe environment, free from sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
Ask questions about your therapy or other services from your provider.
Decline to answer any question or disclose any information you choose not to reveal.
Request and receive information from the therapist about your progress toward your treatment goals.
Know the limits of confidentiality and the circumstances in which a therapist is legally required to disclose information to others.
Know if there are supervisors, consultants, students, or others with whom your therapist will discuss your case.
Decline a particular type of treatment, or end treatment without obligation or harassment.
Refuse electronic recording.
Request and (in most cases) receive a summary of your records, including the diagnosis, your progress, and the type of treatment.
Report unethical and illegal behavior by a therapist (see “What You Can Do”).
Receive a second opinion at any time about your therapy or your therapist’s methods.
Receive a copy of your records or have a copy of your records transferred to any therapist or agency you choose.
In most sexual misconduct cases, other inappropriate behavior comes first. While it may be subtle or confusing, it usually feels uncomfortable to the client. Some clues or warning signs are:
Telling sexual jokes or stories.
Sending obscene images or messages to the client.
Unwanted physical contact.
Excessive out-of-session communication (e.g., text, phone, email, social media, etc.) not related to therapy.
Inviting a client to lunch, dinner, or other social and professional activities.
Changing the office’s business practices (e.g., scheduling late appointments when no one is around, having sessions away from the office, etc.).
Confiding in a client (e.g., about the therapist’s love life, work problems, loneliness, marital problems, etc.).
Telling a client that he or she is special, or that the therapist loves him or her.
Relying on a client for personal and emotional support.
Giving or receiving significant gifts.
Suggesting or supporting the client’s isolation from social support systems, increasing dependency on the therapist.
Providing or using alcohol or drugs during sessions.
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, you have the right to file a complaint with the appropriate licensing board and consult with another therapist.
COMMON REACTIONS TO SEXUAL MISCONDUCT BY A THERAPIST
If a therapist has engaged in any sexual behavior or contact with you, you may experience some or all of the following feelings or reactions:
Intimidated or threatened.
Guilt and responsibility—even though it is the therapist’s responsibility to keep sexual behavior out of therapy.
Mixed feelings about the therapist—e.g., protectiveness, anger, love, betrayal.
Isolation and emptiness.
Distrust of others’ feelings or intentions, or your own feelings.
Fearful that no one will believe you.
Feeling victimized or violated.
Experiencing traumatic symptoms, e.g., anxiety, nightmares, obsessive thoughts, depression, or suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Report the Therapist—What happened to you may be illegal and unethical and you should report it to the appropriate licensing board as soon as possible in order for the board to take appropriate action within the statute of limitations.
In California, there are four boards that license and regulate therapists.
Board of Behavioral Sciences 1625 North Market Blvd., Suite S-200,Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7830 www.bbs.ca.gov
This board licenses and regulates Licensed Educational Psychologists; Licensed Clinical Social Workers; Registered Associate Clinical Social Workers; Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists; Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapists; Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors; and Registered Associate Professional Clinical Counselors.
Board of Psychology 1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-215,Sacramento, CA 95834
(916) 574-7720 www.psychology.ca.gov
This board licenses and regulates Psychologists, Psychological Assistants, and Registered Psychologists.
Medical Board of California 2005 Evergreen Street, Suite 1200,Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 263-2389 www.mbc.ca.gov
This board licenses and regulates allopathic (MD) Physicians and Surgeons (Psychiatrists are Physicians and Surgeons) and Research Psychoanalysts.
Osteopathic Medical Board of California 1300 National Drive, Suite 150, Sacramento, CA 95834-1991
(916) 928-8390 www.ombc.ca.gov
This board licenses and regulates Osteopathic (DO) Physicians and Surgeons (Psychiatrists).
The purpose of these licensing boards is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of consumers. Licensing boards have the authority to discipline therapists by using the administrative law process.
HOW TO FILE A COMPLAINT
You can submit your complaint online or in writing using the forms on the respective board’s website to start the process. You should provide as much information as possible, but it is especially helpful to provide the following information, if available:
Detailed description of the conduct you are reporting.
Copies of materials that support your complaint, e.g., emails, text messages, correspondence between you and the therapist, photographs or other images you shared with or received from the therapist, etc.
The board will require a signed release form, authorizing it to obtain your records from the therapist. These records are required for official use, including investigation and possible administrative proceedings regarding any violations of the law. Your complaint will be evaluated, investigated, and you will be notified of the outcome.
The following are possible outcomes of your complaint:
Revocation or surrender of the therapist’s license: This results in the loss of license and right to practice.
Probation: The therapist’s license may be placed on probation for a defined period of time, with terms and conditions that must be complied with, in order to continue to practice.
Case is closed and no action taken against the therapist’s license: The board could not substantiate a violation of the laws and regulations.
It is board policy to use only initials, rather than full names, to identify clients in public disciplinary documents. However, hearings are open to the public, and you may be asked to testify. All disciplinary actions are public information.
In addition to filing a complaint with the appropriate regulatory board, you may also have civil remedies and criminal recourse available to you in regard to this incident.
WHERE TO GET HELP
Therapy may be an important tool in your recovery. Before selecting a new therapist, here are a few suggestions to support that process:
Ask someone you know and trust for a referral.
Search online for a local sexual assault center or crisis intervention service. These centers can refer you to therapists experienced in dealing with those who have suffered sexual misconduct by a therapist.
Contact professional associations and ask for referrals to therapists who specialize in helping those who have suffered sexual misconduct by a therapist.
Seek a referral from your primary care physician or insurance provider.
Visit the board’s website to verify the status of the therapist’s license.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is it normal to feel attracted to a therapist?
Yes, it is normal to feel attracted to someone who is attentive, kind, and caring. This is a common reaction toward someone who is helping you. However, all therapists are trained to be aware of this and to maintain a professional therapy relationship that is beneficial to the client.
What if the client initiated sexual behavior?
The therapist is the one who is responsible for ensuring that sexual behavior or contact is not part of therapy.
Why do I feel scared or confused about reporting my therapist?
In most cases, the therapist is an important person in the client’s life. Therefore, feelings such as fear, confusion, protectiveness, shame, or guilt are common.
Can I file a complaint if there is or has been a civil case between myself and the therapist?
Yes, you may file a complaint at any time, whether the case is ongoing or concluded. A civil settlement cannot preclude you from filing a complaint against a licensee.
Is there a cost associated with filing a complaint?
No, filing a complaint is free and can be filed via telephone, email, mail, or online.
Can I file a complaint if I had a personal relationship with my therapist?
Can I contact the therapist after I file a complaint?
In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation, it is strongly recommended that you do not initiate contact with the therapist once you have filed a complaint.
What if the therapist contacts me after I file a complaint?
Once you have filed a complaint, notify the board right away if the therapist contacts you.
The 2019 edition of “Therapy Never Includes Sexual Behavior” is published by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. This publication is a joint project of the California Board of Psychology, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, the Medical Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, and the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Publications, Design and Editing.
This publication, and its previous versions, are the result of the dedicated work of former Senator Diane Watson, whose Senate Task Force on Psychotherapist and Patient Sexual Relations prompted the development of the original “Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex” brochure in 1990.
This booklet is available in the “Publications” section of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ website at www.dca.ca.gov.
Single copies of the publication are available at no charge from the boards listed above. For larger quantities, please contact the Office of Publications, Design and Editing, California Department of Consumer Affairs, 1625 North Market Blvd., Suite N-119, Sacramento, CA, 95834, or call (866) 320-8652 or (916) 574-7370.
This booklet may be copied, if (1) the meaning of copied text is not changed or misrepresented, (2) credit is given to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and (3) all copies are distributed free of charge.
Department of Consumer Affairs
1625 North Market Blvd.
Sacramento, CA 95834