Informed consent is one of the most important parts of the therapeutic relationship and building a massage therapy business. You inform clients of what you are going to be doing and why and everything about what you know so they can be informed and clear about what they will be getting. They get to have input into the care that they receive. It also is what will protect you when a client makes a claim against your liability insurance or makes a complaint about you. It is the basis for a safe experience for both the client and the therapist. It is the foundation of the therapeutic relationship and building a successful massage business.
From the minute they start searching for someone to give them a massage, either online or by asking friends and doctors for referrals, a person that will get initial impressions of you which starts the process of the therapeutic relationship.
Clients must be informed of:
- Who you are and that you will be working with them.
- Your work hours, fees and policies.
- The background, history, tradition or evidence of your work.
- Your training and experience in learning the massage method. How many years of training and experience, classes taken, teachers and reputations, board certifications or certificates (know the difference).
- The benefits that should come as a result of the work. Know your research.
- The risks involved in getting the massage.
- How people may feel before, during and after a massage.
- What to expect during a massage session with YOU. What areas of the body will you be working on and how. What areas of concern do you and the client have?
- Describe sessions in a language that is simple and clear, explaining technical terms. What happens from the minute they think about trying you for a massage – the website, scheduling, cancellation policies, appointment times and days, techniques you will use and how feedback will be handled. Assume that people know nothing about massage or the work you do.
- Clearly state your scope of practice and that you are not able to diagnose anything.
- Policies and Procedures including cancellation, no show, late arrivals, payment at the time of service, late fees, no payment or delay of payment fees.
- What is expected from the client – being on time, draping, how to behave (no sexual advances).
Clients must be capable of making a decision for themselves and not be influenced by marketing, hype or rhetoric. A child may need parental consent.
Right of Refusal.
A client has the right to refuse treatment at any time before or during the session. The client should be able to ask questions at any time and stop the session at any time. They should be allowed to give feedback and have it be heard. This is often one of the most difficult things for clients to do when they are undressed and in a vulnerable space.
Informed Consent Forms
Having a client sign a consent for usually should be enough, but many do not fully read those forms.
A good informed consent form will include these topics:
- Possible expected outcomes of your massage session
- Proposed course of session. What to expect during a session – think person who never had a massage before.
- The client’s financial responsibility
- Your statement about confidentiality including a link to your HIPAA forms
- Specific details of your cancelation, no show policies, late arrivals and other policies.
- Cautions and contraindications
- A bio about you with experience, training etc.
Beginning with first contact which is often a Google Business Listing or finding your website or talking to a friend/coworker/family member about you, your messaging needs to be clear and consistent. Your website should tell what solutions you provide as well as have your policies and procedures listed.
As you work with people on the massage table, you can also use this as an opportunity to inform them of everything you are doing especially if they have never had a massage session or had a session with you. Tell them how to lie on the table -under the sheets, face up or down or side, covering up, level of undressing and whatever is needed to help them feel comfortable. Tell them what you are doing before you do it —like I am going to massage the gluts or adductors or pec minor— and I am going to do this and this and you may feel this or this.
The intake process and documentation of the session will help protect you in conjunction with the informed consent. If you did not document it, it did not happen.