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So from what I gather, draping is really a state thing first and then based on the state's code of ethics, a client-therapist consideration.

With that said, I believe TX's current regulations states: draping will be used during the session, unless otherwise agreed to by both the client and the licensee

I read this to say that draping is NOT a state requirement but a client-therapist consideration. This may explain why I get a lot of requests for non draping sessions.

Just yesterday I got a request from someone looking for a professional massage but states that he does not like draping. He also offered to pay more if I would allow this.

My first instinct with all these clients is that no draping request = wanting something extra than a professional massage. However the state regulations says contrary.

So am I foolish for turning down a session because of this? I know I must follow my intuition, so I have already written him a note thanking him for the interest but letting him know that it would make me too uncomfortable. I explained that this was not how I was taught or how I practice, and therefore doing such a session would not be giving him the best I could give.

But I am curious as to other's thoughts and practices with regards to draping. Do you get a lot of requests to exclude it? What are your state's regulations? Have you ever worked on someone who wasn't draped?

Let the dialog begin...


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Daniel, I have never been nude in front of a doctor during a checkup --male or female, or nurse for that matter. There is draping in the medical profession as there should be in the massage therapy profession. Thanks for your point of view. When I worked at a local hot springs and spa, there people were scantily draped during hot stone, and still we draped. Lynn

Daniel Cohen said:
Exactly my point. We are health care professionals and as such draping or not draping should not be a criteria by itself as to the professionalism. The medical field does not have such restrictions. We fall into a trap ourselves automatically judging on this criteria that the service is unprofessional. A drape does not prevent unethical behavior. It is the ethics and professionalism of the Therapist. Who hasn't seen news of doctors or nurses convicted of sexual crimes? Draping is not the issue. It does not make people ethical. As with other health professions we should be recognized as professionals by our training, skills and ethics.

Lynn Johnson said:
Thank you Jimmy for your ethical boundaries to give the massage industry credability. We are potentially working with doctors, chiropractors, dentists, and others that are already recognized as "professionals" in the field. Isn't this what we are massage "therapists" are striving to do? Lynn
Thank you Jimmy for putting this whole issue into words everyone can appreciate! I get the point he is trying to make about ethics, but overall we as therapists have been trying so hard for years to earn credibility for the few who give our profession a bad wrap. Education is key.

Jimmy Gialelis said:
Daniel, I think you missed my point. Just because the law does not equivically state you don't need to drape in bold, obvious terms, that doesn't mean it's ethical to not drape. In fact, I argue it is unethical to not drape a client. You are putting yourself in danger of a major boundary violation when you perform massages in this fashion. To avoid ethical dilemnas and situations where your integrity is challenged, don't even put yourself in that position. That's my point.

Also, one more point, for our profession to advance in credibility, it's important we maintain the highest standards of professionalism. It is necessary that we EDUCATE those individuals who believe in never being draped that draping is necessary for a therapeutic session in achieving optimal results. The more we educate clients and help them see how ethical we practice our trade, the more credibility we will receive from the general public and this opens more doors for our industry!

We still have a long way to go, let's push our industry forward instead of letting unethical therapists push us back!
Actually no, I have a 50/50 ratio of men-women. Sometimes, my male clients like their torso exposed, but nothing more than that. If anyone even suggests about no draping for the session I do not serve them. Simple as that.

Daniel Cohen said:
When you mention cacooning are most of your clients women? I had mentioned above that I found most of my female clients like to bundle with the large towel we use and the males mostly prefer the towel simply draped on the pelvic area. As a male myshaveelf I can say this is not about "getting more than a massage". It is simply more relaxing. I have never had these men ask me for anything nonprofessional in my massage clinic. Nor do I think that draped or not unto itself is the criteria for being professional.

Actually about 80% of my regulars are fully or partially dressed during massage. They like the fact that they get a great treatment without disrobing. Many are Orthodox Jews and religious law must be followed and Asians. So currently I have few naked bodies on the table draped or undraped during the week.

Most response on this thread is from women. I believe this is a gender related issue of comfort and hope there may be more input on this.

Kelli Dougan said:
It is interesting how many of you actually do not drape. In my state it is the law and I am happy about that. It keeps things very professional and sets a tone for the session. Also, my clients love that they feel like they are cacooned underneath the sheet/blanket and on a warm comfy bed. I really would not recommend it any other way.
When the nurse hands me the paper gown at the doctor's office, I would never dream of not putting it on. That's how I see draping. We are the professionals. They are the clients. If we tell them to "please get under the top sheet", then that is what is expected. I wonder what would happen at the doctor's office in that situation? You probably won't be seen.


Jimmy Gialelis said:
Daniel, I think you missed my point. Just because the law does not equivically state you don't need to drape in bold, obvious terms, that doesn't mean it's ethical to not drape. In fact, I argue it is unethical to not drape a client. You are putting yourself in danger of a major boundary violation when you perform massages in this fashion. To avoid ethical dilemnas and situations where your integrity is challenged, don't even put yourself in that position. That's my point.

Also, one more point, for our profession to advance in credibility, it's important we maintain the highest standards of professionalism. It is necessary that we EDUCATE those individuals who believe in never being draped that draping is necessary for a therapeutic session in achieving optimal results. The more we educate clients and help them see how ethical we practice our trade, the more credibility we will receive from the general public and this opens more doors for our industry!

We still have a long way to go, let's push our industry forward instead of letting unethical therapists push us back!
Hi Jimmy,

I believe you are mistaken in believing that it is a law in all 50 states that draping is required. TX does not require it. It just states that both client and therapist must be in agreement of the draping.

And even though I myself prefer the client to be draped, I'm in agreement with Daniel that draping in and of itself is not what makes a sessions unethical. It's the intentions and behaviors of client and or therapist that make it unethical.

Jimmy Gialelis said:
Be careful of clients who request no draping. Their intentions are sexually oriented. Yes, the person is willing to pay more because in his mind he is expecting more than massage, also wishing to recieve sexual services. Escorts charge hundreds of dollars per hour for their services, so these guys are used to paying that much. Don't fall for their tricks. The law is the law, draping is required in all 50 states, there is no gray area.
Ok I can take ownership of that error, draping isn't required in all 50 states. When I hear the term "no draping", I hear "no sheets, no towel, absolutely nothing covering the client's body, not even the genitals." Am I right in this thought?
Lisa, I will commend you for never comprimising your ethical standards by not succombing to temptations if a client is undraped (in my view of the term, again correct me if i'm wrong).

All I am saying is why put ourselves in positions to have intentions and boundaries comprised in the first place? And can the profession truly move forward with individuals receiving massages undraped? This only perpetuates archiac views of massage that we need to eradicate to grow the profession. I'm frankly surprised many people can't see this point: that we all benefit with high standards of practice to mirror those of the medical profession et. al., and that we are all hurt by individuals who place themselves in compromising positions, intentional or otherwise.

Lisa said:
Hi Jimmy,

I believe you are mistaken in believing that it is a law in all 50 states that draping is required. TX does not require it. It just states that both client and therapist must be in agreement of the draping.

And even though I myself prefer the client to be draped, I'm in agreement with Daniel that draping in and of itself is not what makes a sessions unethical. It's the intentions and behaviors of client and or therapist that make it unethical.

Jimmy Gialelis said:
Be careful of clients who request no draping. Their intentions are sexually oriented. Yes, the person is willing to pay more because in his mind he is expecting more than massage, also wishing to recieve sexual services. Escorts charge hundreds of dollars per hour for their services, so these guys are used to paying that much. Don't fall for their tricks. The law is the law, draping is required in all 50 states, there is no gray area.
I think we do more as far as making the client feel they are the focus of attention than a doctor. The old GP is gone and the standard is a few minutes of time and a quick look at charts. Give me an hour with a good MT going over all my knots and reducing swelling or relieving a constant ache from a sprain 15 years ago anytime. I am not saying we replace doctors (nobody jumped to that conclusion right?). But in complimentary medicine we provide hands on attention doctors don't and they have training and skills we do not. It is all good but I certainly hope it never becomes the same.

Jimmy you may question your ability to remain professional with a fully undraped person to work on but for me having worked on both men and women undraped, it was not an issue. My position on this is do what you and your client are comfortable with. In talking about undraped, does this apply to a woman receiving breast massage for surgery recovery or do you regard that as draped? Your state allows breast massage and I hardly think it is expected to keep the breast(s) you are working on draped.

I have raised in my posts the question of the type of draping. But no one seems to be interested in degree only all or nothing. There are many types of draping. As a profession I do not think we should hang our professionalism on the issue of draping. This is not the ethical discussion some seem to think. It is a simple cultural issue over nudity. I think we can as professionals be trusted with an undraped client as much as a client covered by a thin sheet. Many cultures regard draping and uncovering areas of the body as you work as inviting prostitution. I seem to remember hearing it even in our enlightened country. As MTs we should be able to decide each one of us, how we want to work with our clients as long as it is professional. But please do not add to the debate your cultural upbringing on nudity and make it a rule for my professionalism.

I have stated several times that I work on most clients fully or partially clothed. When I drape I drape with towels and rarely sheets. I work within the clients comfort zone, even if that is a preference for not being draped.

I understand that there are many different positions on this issue. They are also influenced by experiences good or bad, cultural conditioning, gender, spa/clinic/home/hotel, or other locations. But please do not make draping an ethical issue which those outside the profession may interpret as reinforcing puritanical impressions of the simple issue of disrobing for a massage. I believe in the training, dedication, and professionalism of our profession that places our clients wellbeing and health above prurient interest.

Jimmy Gialelis said:
Ok I can take ownership of that error, draping isn't required in all 50 states. When I hear the term "no draping", I hear "no sheets, no towel, absolutely nothing covering the client's body, not even the genitals." Am I right in this thought?
Lisa, I will commend you for never comprimising your ethical standards by not succombing to temptations if a client is undraped (in my view of the term, again correct me if i'm wrong).

All I am saying is why put ourselves in positions to have intentions and boundaries comprised in the first place? And can the profession truly move forward with individuals receiving massages undraped? This only perpetuates archiac views of massage that we need to eradicate to grow the profession. I'm frankly surprised many people can't see this point: that we all benefit with high standards of practice to mirror those of the medical profession et. al., and that we are all hurt by individuals who place themselves in compromising positions, intentional or otherwise.

Lisa said:
Hi Jimmy,

I believe you are mistaken in believing that it is a law in all 50 states that draping is required. TX does not require it. It just states that both client and therapist must be in agreement of the draping.

And even though I myself prefer the client to be draped, I'm in agreement with Daniel that draping in and of itself is not what makes a sessions unethical. It's the intentions and behaviors of client and or therapist that make it unethical.

Jimmy Gialelis said:
Be careful of clients who request no draping. Their intentions are sexually oriented. Yes, the person is willing to pay more because in his mind he is expecting more than massage, also wishing to recieve sexual services. Escorts charge hundreds of dollars per hour for their services, so these guys are used to paying that much. Don't fall for their tricks. The law is the law, draping is required in all 50 states, there is no gray area.
I think level of draping is a key component as well, for discussion purposes. I was trained using sheets and the whole diaper draping thing. When I get it right i feel great. on the days I fumble, I feel like an ass. One thing I don't like about this particular type of draping is that I do find it sets boundaries on the cautious side than really being able to move the leg around and work the areas that need working all the way to the attachment sites if needed. i also don't like the time wasted in doing all this draping. I would imagine some are very proficient at it. I am not. And any more than I do now would require way too much time IMO.

This leads me to believe that in some cases a towel would be easier. Yet I still like the notion of the sheet over towel.

Now in as much as I haven't been on a date in forever, i can still say that a massage room never makes me think of anything other than the work I am doing. I say that because, I could very well see working with a client for a long period of time, being the type of circumstance where I might just feel comfortable enough to have a client completely nude and it not even phase me. By that time I would have worked with the client for so long that there would just be a natural connection that would create an environment where each felt safe.

The reason I say that is because, it demonstrates that the draping in and of itself is not the ethical issue. It comes down to the client/therapist relationship.

Unfortunately it also comes down to our training. Because it's there were we learn the philosophies, ethical issues, and the actual skills to drape...or not to drape (that IS the question). :) And then it's up to us to either adhere to what we've learned or break away from our specific teachings and explore other ways of doing what we do.

If I'm not mistaken, isn't it common to be completely nude when getting a massage on the beach, on the islands? That doesn't sound sexual to me. Just a different scenario and perspective.
Candace, I have worked on clients who had made suggestive remarks and I continued with the massage although nothing came from it. I felt very uncomfortable to say the least and I should have terminated the session, but I was pretty green as an LMT. I understand that many men and women become aroused with massage and say or do inappropriate things and are embarassed by their response. It is not directed to the therapist but a response triggered by touch. One client in particular, was between the sheets but his intention was very obvious when I walked in. I covered him up and told him that this was a good establishment and that if he ever tried that again, he would be barred from coming back. He chose not to come back and I am thankful.
It is obvious from the many comments that professionalism should dictate that we as LMTs lead the way in setting the boundaries necessary for making massage therapy a safe occupation that is on the par with other professional medical practices. We walk a fine line between the image of massage as a prelude to sexual encounters and a bonafide squeaky clean image of professional massage. It is up to the Licensed Massage Therapists, regardless of state statutes forbidding or allowing undraped massage to bring massage into the realm of medical professionalism.
As a licensed massage establishment, I have also wondered if those seeking to procure a massage that is not professional by our standards, may have been checking out our practices to make sure were above board.
Candace Guilford said:
Sometimes dont you think it would be easy to just have someone lay there and not have to worry about the sheets?!

YOU are in the room too, and just because they want something, legal or not, doesnt mean you have to do it. Just say "Thats not the draping techniques I prefer in my practice." If your not going to touch it, why would you want to look at it??

I'm in NY where the rules and regulations are absurd... but conservative..
In my state, draping is required. I have had a few clients (male and female) that requested no draping and usually this was due to temperature. However, they do usually follow up with a "I'm not modest!" I usually adjust the temp on the table warmer and replace the drape. Since the drape is required and I actually for more at ease with it on, I don't really have too much discussion or negotiation about it.
It is my understanding in the US you have to drap! I will tell you this it makes things more professional and safer for you as a therapist. That is why these laws are put in place! You stick to what you know and they will respect u more for being sturn! The longer u r in business u will hear alot! HaHa! Some of what you hear is not always true! When I worked with 5 Therapist in a private practice! People would come in and say well she did it for me! He allowed me!!!! Dadadada. So people will always see what the can get away with! I straight out tell them it is the LAW! Keep it at that and soon you will have the most wonderful well behaved clients!
Kay, where do you find in your state law anything about draping. Georgia has a very good massage law. You might want to look over it.

In most states draping and how you do it is left to choice. I think that is professionalism. Trusting us to be professional in how we work with clients rather than trying to enforce the social customs of some is part of being professional I believe. State laws must trust us to act professionally within the definition of our field. Certain things like draping are part of professionalism. It is part of providing a comfort level for the Client and the Therapist. Please don't confuse law and custom. Customs differ and change among the population for many reasons. Laws are rarely changed, mostly added to.

Customs vary, Asians usually feel that the line has been crossed by disrobing even though full sheet draping is used. I have demonstrated massage with draping at hospitals in China. The staff is always amazed at how it maintains a persons privacy. They are also amazed that oil massage can be performed non-sexually. They have had the perception that oil massage is prostitution. Luckily there is no law against unclothed draped massage in China or I couldn't have taught it in China.

My point is that law should not determine the draped/minimal drape/undraped issue. It should be based on our professionalism and choice (both Client and Therapist) for the session.



Kay said:
It is my understanding in the US you have to drap! I will tell you this it makes things more professional and safer for you as a therapist. That is why these laws are put in place! You stick to what you know and they will respect u more for being sturn! The longer u r in business u will hear alot! HaHa! Some of what you hear is not always true! When I worked with 5 Therapist in a private practice! People would come in and say well she did it for me! He allowed me!!!! Dadadada. So people will always see what the can get away with! I straight out tell them it is the LAW! Keep it at that and soon you will have the most wonderful well behaved clients!

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