Dear Oregon School of Massage Students, Graduates & Colleagues,
It has come to our attention that there is controversy brewing around the Lifetime Network show, “The Client List.” If you haven’t heard the news, the show examines the struggles of a single mother who finds employment at a spa, only to discover that it is really a storefront for prostitution. She continues her employment, despite the illegality of her work. Adding to the questionable nature of the storyline, commercial trailers for the show portray it as sexy and glamorous, which is in conflict with the mission of Lifetime to offer “the highest quality entertainment and information programming content that celebrates, entertains and supports women.”
Both the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) have written official statements and have been in communication with Lifetime Network regarding their concerns. They have addressed how the show may impact professional massage therapists and resurface outdated stereotypes about the massage industry – potentially placing massage therapists in unintended danger. We encourage you to visit both AMTAmassage.org and ABMP.com to read more details from our professional associations and responses from the network. (ABMP statement . AMTA statement )
Oregon School of Massage places a high regard on professional ethics, communication and boundary setting and we find this both a concerning situation and an opportunity for client education. At this moment, Lifetime intends to continue with their plans to air the show. This means that clients, both existing and potential, may be exposed to the sexual massage parlor stereotype, which we have fought as a profession to overcome. Because the show may become a part of weekly television viewing culture, our boundaries and professional communications will be put to the test as our clients come to sessions with questions about the show and sexual massage. We encourage you to use this opportunity to discuss with your clients, in a non-judgemental and matter-of-fact way, the therapeutic nature of our work and clarification of professional boundaries.
For additional information regarding discussing sexual issues with clients, please refer to “The Educated Heart,” by Nina McIntosh or “The Ethics of Touch,” by Ben Benjamin & Cherie Sohnen-Moe.
For the Oregon School of Massage Staff,
Amy Stark, Student Services Coordinator