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Posted by Emma Jane Riley Thompson, Apr 8 2009 10:51AM

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SAFETY FOR MASSAGE THERAPISTS - WORKING ALONE

I was just wondering if anyone knows whether there are any regulations concerning health and safety for massage therapists, with specific reference to working alone. I currently work from my therapy room at home and for a Holistic Clinic. When working from home I ensure that if I have a male client, my husband is present in the house so that I am never alone with a stranger. However, when I work at the clinic - a small private two room practice - I am constantly having to wrangle with the owner/manager to make sure that I am not alone in the building with strange male clients. Sometimes we have a receptionist or other therapist covering the front desk, but this is not always possible and my manager who is a practising female kinesiologist (who is happy to work alone in a building with any clients male or female)makes me feel like I am being deliberately difficult or obstinate because I don't want to be left alone.
I accept that many massage therapists choose to work alone either from home or in a mobile capacity and that is entirely up to them. But am I really being obstinate because I have concerns for my safety?
I'd be very grateful for any opinions or feedback.
Many thanks
Emma
Roushan Martens
Apr 8 2009 1:51PM
Hi Jane, no, I don't think you're being unreasonable or silly. You are perfectly entitled to choose not to work alone with new (or existing, if you like) male clients. I personally will not take a new male client in the centre where I work if I know I'm going to be alone in the building at the time.

It may be that it's a struggle, or not cost-effective, for your centre to provide someone to be present whilst you're working, if there wouldn't be someone there anyway. It's up to them whether they make someone available or not. It's up to you whether you choose to work when there is no-one else around. In my case, I might turn down a new client, and that's my choice. You shouldn't let anyone make you feel bad about protecting yourself.

Hope that's helpful,
Roushan.
Roushan Martens
Apr 8 2009 1:52PM
Sorry, Emma, not Jane!
Angela Rawlins
Apr 8 2009 8:15PM
Emma

I would refuse male clients if there is no one in the clinic. Could you find a chaperone?
Beth Reynolds
Apr 9 2009 7:34PM
Hi Emma,

Don't ever compromise your safety, & always go with your gut instinct. I think your clinic is being very unreasonable!

If you are there alone, does that mean you have to lock up the clinic on your own? If so, this has safety complications of it's own. Is there anyway your hubby could come to the clinic in the evening?

I think, at the end of the day, you need to do what's right for you.

Best of luck

Beth
Joy Healey
Apr 9 2009 9:37PM
Hi Emma

You're NOT being unreasonable.

My friend who is a massage therapist was working alone with a client when he "misunderstood" the nature of her therapy!!

She is a very assertive lady and told him in no uncertain terms where to get off, and happily he backed down. But if he he'd turned nasty it could have been a very different story. That was the point when she refused to see any male clients unless by personal recommendation.

If they won't compromise could you carry some kind of "noise-making" personal alarm system which, you could say was linked to a central police system?

At home I have a mobile fob on my desk which would set off my burglar alarm and a neighbor would, in theory, come running!!

Joy
Tonia Parsons
Sep 9 2009 4:36PM
Totally you need to go with what you feel is right. Basically for your own safety and mainly when I work for RBMind at an NHS Mental Health Hospital they don't allow me to massage alone due to the nature of our business, that's on their premises. However when you are out in the Community you are dealing with Inclusivity of the all the Public and although in mental health training you learn that 1 in 4 people suffer mental distress at sometime in their lives then you also learn (and this is the most relevant to the work I've done in the Community as a whole)...you are generally safer in a mental health unit than you are in a pub! Just never take chances with your own safety. What you are doing is correct and sometime...over time...the rest of the professions will catch up ie. private clinics etc and enable you to carry out your work how and when the public/clients need it. The Public Health Service understand what's necessary but it just means who funds their time...its an ongoing thing... Hope this helps and shows there is hope in the future..
Tonia
SWLondon Area Coordinator and Mobile Therapist mainly for RBMind (funded and voluntary)
Dawn Poole
Jun 30 2010 6:34PM
hi there, i know this is an old thread but thought id post anyway!
im fairly new to mobie therapy, and have found all but 1 male client who i have either treated or who have contacted me about a treatment have seemed to have "ulterior motives" for their treatment. After contacting 1 guy about a Swedish Massage, who clearly wanted more than that- he was told firmly he had the wrong therapist! the same guy had the cheek to call a week later and leave another message. Clearly trawling the internet and didnt realise he had called the same person twice. I have has requests go to hotel rooms etc and have always turned them down.
Its got to the point where im a bit off put going to a male client. My husband always knows where i am and how long treatments going to last, but is that really enough if something goes wrong while you are there?
call me naive, but I thought all this old fashioned "massage parlour" stigma went out with the ark- as people who offer this other sort of "service" aint exactly backwards in coming forwards in the advertisments, I cant understand why we are contacted in reagrds to this sort of stuff!
i didnt want to seem sexist in turning down male clients, but reading some of the posts on here seems other therapists are happy to refuse if they would be alone with them.
would be grateful for advise from any other mobile therapists on how they have coped with this!
thanks
Angela Rawlins
Jun 30 2010 8:16PM
Dawn - never, ever go to any place for a male client! Sorry, my husband would kill me if the bloke hadn't!! My husband is SO concerned about my safety............ And I don't do massage - reflexology and other therapies that I practice at my home clinic.

I have been a therapist since 1997 and unfortunately, yes you will still get the sex calls! Why - who knows, perhaps they think you're better!

If you'd like to include males, then better to practice in a therapy centre or at home with chaperones.
Dawn Poole
Jul 1 2010 5:48PM
Hi Angela, thanks for your reply.
To be fair, my husbands not at all keen on the fact that i have gone out to male clients- but like i say hes always had the address and has called if im not home at the said time. i am pretty new to this and didnt want to seem unprofessional by refusing male clients- as some of them genuinely want a treatment.
Which way can I approach this- do I advertise female clients only on my site? I defo see where you're coming from, but at the moment I cannot have or rent any sort of treatment room, as I am mobile simply as I do this evenings and weekends around my full time civil service job. Taking a few slow steps then hopefully progress as things pick up.
I have to admit though, it really has put me off, and its a shame as there are some genuine decent male clients who simply want a treatment and nothing untoward. My husband would certainly be a lot happier for me not to go to a male clients house- though hes never kicked up a huge fuss as I have always maintained I advertise to be mobile and cannot be sexist. Maybe that has been my 1st business mistake....guess its all a learning curve!
Angela Rawlins
Jul 1 2010 6:08PM
Hi Dawn

You are NOT sexist, just sensible. One idea - what if you take your husband to the appointment or at least ask the prospective client if they would mind you bringing your husband as you have had a bad experience in the past. You then can gauge the response and decide if you should take that man on! Mind you, you'll have to get your husband or even a brother to go if they do not mind:)

Some people only take on male referals from other lady clients, friends but still your safety is of the utmost importance:))

Take much care
Dawn Poole
Jul 2 2010 6:55PM
Hi Angela, funny enough my friends husband done just that, and sat in the car outside for the whole treatment! (and to be fair mine would have done the same given half the chance) I thought however that would come across to a genuine client like you thought they were gunna pounce and would break that trust between therapist and client before it had even started.... maybe i have been trying too hard to be professional, above my own safety.
But thanks for your views, i feel much better that I am not being sexist to refuse, which really was a concern for me- hopefully some day I will be able to take on things in a therapy room with people around me. thanks again. x


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