By now, most massage therapist and a number of other health care, government, and other officials have heard, or at least know of what is going on with this controversial court case. Laurie Thompson, a massage therapist in Kindersley and Eston, has been convicted of sexual assault on one of his clients.
For all of us in the Massage Therapy profession, this is a huge slap in the face. We cannot even begin to express our disgust, disappointment, and dread at what this could do for the good standing we have gained in the many years of building a reputation as a professional and necessary health care practice. As we were discussing this topic at the school, some expressed anger, others frustration, and even some sadness and confusion; "How could anyone think this was ok?" and "Why is he still allowed to practice, that's despicable!" were just some of the comments heard in class.
We understand how easy it is to read this article and become negative, even to the point of being unprofessional in retaliation; but we would like to point out one very interesting, and under stated fact that has come out of this case: A Saskatchewan Court has now put it on the record that inside of the practice of Massage Therapy there is an Imbalance of Power. Why is this important? Because, in order to become a regulated profession (as the defense attorney pointed out we currently are not), this imbalance of power must be recognized by the government before they will put a regulating Massage Therapy Act in place to truly protect the public from the likes of Mr. Thompson.
We see this story, and we are fully against what this man did and are appalled at his clear disregard for the trust and vulnerability placed in his care. We expect any person who has taken 2200 hours of education and has registered with a professional association to hold the same high standards of practice that we work so hard to uphold; but, let's be honest, there will always be a small percentage of people who make these kinds of mistakes, deliberately or not. The only safety we can hope for, both for our clients and for the reputation of our profession, is to become regulated as a profession in EVERY province.
The professional associations in each province do their best to raise awareness, hold to a high code of ethics, and provide disciplinary action where necessary; we commend them for it, and they do a really amazing job balancing the authority they have. They can only go so far. What this case has opened up is one simple statement that could change the profession of Massage Therapy in Saskatchewan: "Imbalance of Power" Let us hope that the government is paying attention, and that Registered Massage Therapists across the province stand up and say, "We DO provide a necessary and beneficial health-care service; we KNOW that our clients choose to trust our education and skills for their betterment; we ARE creating positive changes akin to that of a chiropractor or physiotherapist; we NEED to be recognized by our government in order to keep the small percentage of people who would abuse that power OUT of practice for the sake of the public and the profession."
This may be the turning point for Saskatchewan, and indeed the other non-regulated provinces, if this information, this on-the-record Imbalance of Power, is pursued correctly. So, yes, be upset, be disgusted and frustrated; also be ready to spread the word and help get our profession regulated so we can prevent this from happening again!