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If Oswalt attended the client’s graduation, the likelihood existed that she would meet the woman’s husband and family.
Might that lead to questions about the client’s counseling work that the client wouldn’t want to deal with on her graduation day?
Because you are meeting someone under the premise that you will provide massage therapy for them for a fee you have other obligations to be professional and create boundaries to protect the client at all cost.
In a regular relationship where you meet someone in a coffee shop or at a party it is an equal relationship where both exchange information freely in order to get to know each other.
Having a strong ethical compass is paramount to being a good counselor, says Oswalt, who in addition to running her private practice works two days a week as assistant director of career services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“I can’t be unethical and at the same time be an effective counselor,” she says.
What if you really really really fall head over heels for a massage client and go on to date them?
If the person was just divorced or the divorce happened as a result of the new relationship, the ex-partner could take legal action against you especially if there is a law regarding dating in your state.
There is a power differential in the relationship between the massage therapist and client where the client will put their trust into the hands of the massage therapist and will look to them for help with their health issues.
All of the excuses are just that, excuses for inappropriate behavior.
We have to use our ethical code to increase our ability to analyze issues in ways that will facilitate our ability to move on to ethical action — to make it part of who we are as a professional [and] prepare us to deal with ethical dilemmas before they even arise.
Most of us are trained to ‘do things right.’ Ethics help us to ‘do the right thing.'” Oswalt’s graduation invitation is just one example of the ethical dilemmas that confront counselors on a daily basis.
If the relationship ends badly at a later date, the client may finally realize that you took advantage of them when they were in a vulnerable state and try to sue you or put claims against your license for inappropriate behavior and ethical violations.