Webinar: Maintaining Sexual Ethics: Part 3-Protecting Practitioners

Anne Williams

Most clients are seeking massage for reasons that are healthy and appropriate. But what do you do when a client seeking massage for the wrong reasons ends up on your massage table and starts to cross your ethical boundaries? Also, is it possible that massage practitioners sometimes overreact to client behaviors that are inappropriate but not dangerous? Finally, what about clinic managers or massage supervisors that act inappropriately or fail to safeguard the practitioners that work for them against sexual harassment? How do you report sexual harassment and what whistleblower protections exist? In this session, we'll tackle these complex questions and discuss ways we can keep ourselves safe as massage practitioners.

View the course handout for additional information on reporting sexual harassment and whistleblower protections.

This course is the third in a series of four webinars.


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Course Outline
  • Introduction
  • Client screening
  • Boundaries
  • Exit strategies
  • Reporting
  • Complaint types: verbal informal, written informal, written formal
  • Sexual assault reporting
  • Sexual arousal
  • Sexual harassment definition and types
  • Whistleblower protections
  • Filing whistleblower complaints
Learning Objectives

Learning Objectives

Having viewed the online massage therapy ethics CE course, participants will be able to:

  • List two motivations that might define a client seeking massage for the wrong reasons.
  • List two ways that inappropriate clients might cross a massage practitioner’s boundaries in ways that cause the massage session to become unhealthy.
  • Define the term, client screening.
  • Outline one method for screening out clients who might be seeking massage for the wrong reasons.
  • List one question a client seeking massage for the wrong reasons might ask during a booking phone call.
  • Describe one behavior a client seeking massage for sexual gratification might exhibit in the massage session room.
  • Outline the steps for checking client boundary crossings during a massage session.
  • Define the term, incident report.
  • Outline the information that is typically included on an incident report.
  • Describe two “small transgressions” a client seeking to manipulate a therapist might use.
  • Define the term, transference.
  • List three behaviors consistent with transference.
  • Outline the steps for reestablishing professional boundaries when behaviors related to transference are occurring.
  • Describe two things clinic managers can do to keep massage practitioners safe.
  • Define the term, unwanted sexual arousal response.
  • Describe two methods for respectfully managing a client’s unwanted sexual arousal responses.
  • Define the term, sexual harassment.
  • Describe manager behaviors consistent with quid pro quo harassment.
  • Describe work cultures that might lead to hostile environment complaints.
  • Outline reporting procedures for quid pro quo and hostile environment complaints.
Anne Williams

Anne Williams is a licensed massage therapist, former esthetician, certified reflexologist, clinical hypnotherapist, registered counselor, aromatherapist, author, and educator. She has worked as a school director of education, massage instructor, CE provider, spa consultant, curriculum specialist, and director of education at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). She is currently the director of education at Massage Mastery Online. Her publications include Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists (2006) and Massage Mastery: From Student to Professional (2012). Learn more at www.plantspiritlife.com and https://massagemastery.online/.

Topics and Techniques

This online massage therapy CE course is available to you on demand to access, learn, and earn CE whenever and wherever it’s most convenient for you!


Visit the ABMP Education Center FAQ page for a full list of resources.

Is this ethics CE course approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) for CE credit?
Yes! All of the courses are approved under ABMP’s NCBTMB Approved Provider account (451086-09).

How do I earn a CE certificate for this video-based ethics course?
After you complete the webinar video, a quiz will appear on the page. Earn a CE certificate by scoring 70% or higher on the course quiz.

How do I access my CE certificates?
CE certificates are available on your “My CE Transcripts” page and on the course page. Visit your “My CE Transcript” page by clicking “My CE” on the navigation bar at the top of your screen.


"Amazing course! I have taken many ethics courses in my 20+ years of massage and this course is the best. The instructor's material is presented well, very thorough, and takes a strong stance on the proper way to immediately handle tough situations that most people ignore. I mentor other LMTs and will highly recommend this course!"

"Anne is fantastic in her professional directness about a highly charged topic. Her direction on how to deal with inappropriate sexual behavior is the best I've encountered."

"Everything that would constitute possible sexual harassment from innuendo to actual misconduct was explained systematically with each situation explained to its best possible solution."

"Very well presented. Good pacing, good use of visuals, engaging teacher. The material is delicate but was handled skillfully. Examples given were relevant and poignant."