Holistic Massage School Reflects on Importance of Massage Therapists’ Code of Ethics

“The career path of a Massage Therapist requires more than physical dexterity and knowledge of a few massage strokes”, said Paula Curtiss, Director for Healing Hands School of Holistic Health. (HH)  “They must also be able to make sound ethical decisions and navigate a myriad of difficult dilemmas that may arise during a client’s care.  Students need a capacity for personal introspection, an awareness of the law, and respect for the ethics of the Massage Therapy Professional”, she added. A Massage Therapist’s choices and actions, both inside and outside of the therapy room can dramatically impact their personal and professional lives.  State licensing boards and professional associations set forth codes of ethics to define standards of professional conduct that ensure the highest good for the client in therapeutic relationships. The first step ethical practice is to become aware of these established regulations and to implement them.  In the Massage Therapy Industry, there are some ethical ‘absolutes’ of professionalism which include:



  • Professionals do not breech sexual boundaries with clients.

  • Client care is focused on help, not harm.
  • When the therapeutic skills required are out of the Practitioner’s scope,they refer the client.
  • Clients are to be informed.


The following Code of Ethics, developed by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB), is considered an industry standard and used among many massage clinics. The NCBTMB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to defining and advancing the highest standards in the massage therapy and bodywork professions through Board Certification, Approved Providers, and Assigned Schools. For more on the NCBTMB go online to: https://www.ncbtmb.org.


(Copyright 2007 National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork)


  1. Have a sincere commitment to provide the highest quality of care to those who seek their professional services.
  2. Represent their qualifications honestly, including education and professional affiliations, and provide only those services that they are qualified to perfor
  • Accurately inform clients, other health care practitioners, and the public of the scope and limitations of their discipline.
  1. Acknowledge the limitations of and contraindications for massage and bodywork and refer clients to appropriate health professionals.
  2. Provide treatment only where there is reasonable expectation that it will be advantageous to the client.
  3. Consistently maintain and improve professional knowledge and competence, striving for professional excellence through regular assessment of personal and professional strengths and weaknesses and through continued education training.
  • Conduct their business and professional activities with honesty and integrity, and respect the inherent worth of all persons.
  • Refuse to unjustly discriminate against clients and/or health professionals.  
  1. Safeguard the confidentiality of all client information, unless disclosure is requested by the client in writing, is medically necessary, is required by law,  or necessary for the protection of the public.
  2. Respect the client’s right to treatment with informed and voluntary consent. The certified practitioner will obtain and record the informed consent of the client, or client’s advocate, before providing treatment. This consent may be written or verbal.
  3. Respect the client’s right to refuse, modify or terminate treatment regardless of prior consent given.
  • Provide draping and treatment in a way that ensures the safety, comfort and privacy of the client.
  • Exercise the right to refuse to treat any person or part of the body for just and reasonable cause.
  • Refrain, under all circumstances, from initiating or engaging in any sexual conduct, sexual activities, or sexualizing behavior involving a client, even if the client attempts to sexualize the relationship unless a pre-existing relationship exists between an applicant or a practitioner and the client prior to the applicant or practitioner applying to be certified by NCBTMB.
  1. Avoid any interest, activity or influence which might be in conflict with the practitioner’s obligation to act in the best interests of the client or the profession.
  • Respect the client’s boundaries with regard to privacy, disclosure, exposure, emotional expression, beliefs and the client’s reasonable expectations of professional behavior.  Practitioners will respect the client’s autonomy.
  • Refuse any gifts or benefits that are intended to influence a referral, decision or treatment, or that are purely for personal gain and not for the good of the client.
  • Follow the NCBTMB Standards of Practice, this Code of Ethics, and all policies, procedures, guidelines, regulations, codes, and requirements promulgated by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.

To date, HH has prepared more than 7,000 students for rewarding careers in Massage Therapy and can do the same for you. To find out more about the more than 80 Massage and Holistic Health classes available at HH please visit us on-line at www.HealingHandsSchool.com or call us at (949) 305-2722 in Laguna Hills, (760) 746-9364 in Escondido or (858) 505-1100 in San Diego.