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Being aware of client boundaries and appropriate touch is essential for any practitioner. The NHPC specifies how its members should interact with clients to ensure safety and comfort.
The NHPC requires that all massage therapists touch clients only for therapeutic purposes. As NHPC members, therapists must:
Massage therapists are prohibited from touching the genitals, anus, or nipple/areola of all clients. Interaction with these areas is not part of the massage therapy scope of practice and is considered sexual misconduct.
Areas of the body that risk misinterpretation when touched include:
Given the risk, the NHPC has set standards of practice for therapists dealing with the above areas or any other client-specific "sensitive" areas.
Massage therapists should only treat sensitive areas if it is clinically indicated and they have the skills, knowledge, and training to treat the area. They also must do the following:
Clients should provide informed consent for any treatment, especially treatment of sensitive areas. Informed consent must be given voluntarily by the client, and the practitioner must:
For greater detail on the above guidelines, including specifics on touch, draping techniques, and obtaining informed consent, see the full NHPC Position Statement on Appropriate Touch (PDF).