Lisa Tucker RMT
President, CMTO Council
10 Meadowglen Drive, unit 10
Whitby, ON, L1R3P8
September 27th, 2017
Dear Ms. Tucker,
I am writing to you today to respectfully ask that The Council revisit the recent changes made to the Standards of Practice that now require RMTs to obtain written consent for the treatment of sensitive areas. It is my fear that these new requirements may have the unintended effect of preventing victims of abuse from filing charges and receiving the support they need, if the assault occurs during a treatment for which written consent was given. Knowing that their abuser holds physical evidence that they themselves consented to (any part) of the attack would be a very real deterrent to come forward following a sexual assault.
As an RMT who has been practicing for 10 years, I understand the importance of informed consent. It demonstrates our respect for our clients, helping to strengthen trust in the client-therapist relationship. It is the cornerstone of effective treatment and ethical care. Informed consent happens many times throughout every treatment, not just prior to it. It is a natural conversation that happens when pressure or positioning is changed, draping is performed, or specific techniques applied. Informed consent can be a simple, unimposing process that serves to comfort our clients, and empower them.
Written consent does not itself protect our clients from abuse. It does not offer more security, nor does it communicate more clearly the purpose or nature of treatment than verbal consent. It, like most waivers, conveys that there is an inherent risk to the proposed treatment plan, and in this case, that the risk is of sexual assault. It is from my own experience that I can tell you that the myriad of emotions following abuse are overwhelming, but in the aftermath, there is no confusion that what has just occurred was an act of assault. No paperwork is necessary to know when that line has been crossed. Bad touch is never mistaken for good.
In the few days since this Standard revision has been implemented, I have seen it confuse, worry, and alarm clients. Most have expressed that they feel that it does more to protect their RMT than themselves, and not one has voiced their support. I implore the College to instead explore ways to educate the public about the clinical indications for which their RMT might suggest treating said sensitive areas, and the standard draping techniques that should be used. I believe that normalizing treatment of these areas will offer more protection to clients to know how and why the treatment should occur.
I am a strong supporter of regulation, and it is with great respect for the College and its efforts to protect the public that I bring this concern to you. I have collected nearly 10,000 signatures on a petition calling for the amendment of this Standard, as this recent revision, though virtuous in its ideology, may be dangerous to our clients and the profession as a whole. I thank you for taking this under consideration, and for your continued commitment to our clients’ best interests.
Alycia Duff-Bergeron RMT
Anatomica Massage Therapy
1302 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON