Comment for VICE Media

At the beginning of January, the FHT was approached by a journalist writing for VICE Media about the problem of sexual harassment of therapists by clients. They were keen to identify the scope of the problem, as well as to report on the options available to therapists to keep them safe. The article will be published in due course. In the meantime, here is the official FHT response.

Sexual harassment of any kind is unacceptable and therapists should never tolerate any inappropriate advances by clients. Thankfully, data collected from our large membership and the wider industry indicates that this is not a widespread problem, although some small isolated cases have occurred.

Jennifer Wayte, President of the FHT says “If inappropriate client requests do occur, professional conduct by the therapist and the use of language that creates clear boundaries should ensure that the issue is nipped in the bud. In the event this doesn’t work and a client persists, therapists are advised to stop the treatment immediately and can contact the police to report the incident. As part of our membership, we also provide a Code of Conduct and Professional Practice, which offers advice on professional boundaries and the use of modesty towels.”

Additional advice for members:

  • Be mindful of your language and imagery – when doing your PR and marketing, consider how the language and imagery you use could be interpreted. Make sure your messaging is clear and concise and that your imagery is demonstrative. You can and should also display your membership logo, as this will set you apart as a true professional. Visit the Members Area to download your membership logo.
  • Be aware of red flags – clients may use indicative language such as ‘sensual massage’ or ask about your policy on modesty towels. Be clear about the type of massage you offer and what to expect at the time of booking, or during the initial consultation, to ensure clarity for all clients.
  • Trust your instincts – if you are concerned about going ahead with a treatment when you meet the client, you are within your rights to cancel it. If you feel threatened during a treatment, leave the room immediately and seek assistance from a friend or colleague, or if necessary, the police.
  • Always consider your personal safety – the Suzy Lamplugh Trust offers excellent advice on personal safety, particularly for lone workers. Most telephone network providers will also be able to offer advice about dealing with nuisance calls and texts.
  • Contact the Police – if a client is persistent and exceeds the normal boundaries for a therapist-client relationship, then you can contact the police. They will be able to offer you support and advice and take a statement about any incidences.

Thankfully, these cases are rare. Complementary, beauty and sports therapies are incredibly rewarding careers and feedback from our members say the same!