draping and new massage ethics

sandy Thu, April 7, 2011 - 5:02 AM by sandy

I used to post on bodyworkonline, but it got to be very heavily censored if you posted anything that differed from what the moderators thought.

I have lots of clients that do not like to be draped - or like a small washrag to cover the essentials. They range from young to old and male and female. Perhaps because I do, I get more referrals.

I started doing no draped after having the massage aura interfered with by the tucking and draping changes. A male client told me that his MT ended up "touching him" more by tucking the drapes between his legs than not.

In 10 years, I have had only several requests (and one by a woman) for a happy ending and 2 spontaneous happy endings.

I am amazed at the comments by some of our colleagues that massage is not sensual. I do a range of light to deep touch and like long strokes aka Esalen. I do end up with a hot stone to the legs and abd and that often triggers a parasympathetic response in the clients (again both sexes) - which I ignore (or if it especially large, cover with a washcloth - more for the client's embarrassment than mine)

I have noted more clients sleeping though the massage since I changed my practice. My teacher who was a MT in the Bay Area in the 70s told me that most massages were done undraped.

On the other board mentioned, some post that "they have never seen a client's private parts" - both groin, breast or buttock. They pride themselves on giving a massage to the gluts through a sheet.

I think it is a shame the direction that our profession is going. I understand that most Americans are prudes. No topless bathing, etc. I was in Amsterdam and clothes/bathing suits were not allowed in the spas.

As to "the law", it is totally misunderstood. In TN, it states drapes must be provided. In San Diego, drapes must be used for "out call"

I think that before we judge clients as being a pervert if they ask for no drape, we need to ask them why.


Re: draping and new massage ethics

Del Sol Massage Thu, April 7, 2011 - 7:12 AM by Del Sol...

I have only had one client who didn't want draping and that happened to be my husband and it had to do with temperature. In all other cases, my clients want a drape. Many of them are concerned about modesty, especially those who are receiving their first massage.

Recently I had a new therapist tuck the drape between my legs while I was supine and she did indeed touch me quite firmly on the genitals, which definately disturbed me. I talked to her about draping after and her comment was "it's only you". I guess she felt it was ok to be sloppy when working on a colleague (there were many other less than stellar practices in her massage). Unfortunately , I do not feel comfortable refering work to her. Unknown to her, I was trading with her to see what her work wa like prior to our season beginning because I need help with my client load occassionally. It is h.ard to imagine that her draping instruction included "tucking" the drape between the legs.

In my massage I use draping as part of the massage, which my clients seem to like. There have been many times the feedback has included comments on how comforted, cradled, or safe they felt. I doubt it has much to do with being prudish, as I have found myself feeling the same way when draping is done with care and used as an addition to the massage and not just a mechanical movement performed for a prudish client.

Recently I had a client who wanted me to massage his adductor attachment sites. All I can say is I am glad there was draping. I am definately not a prude, but I have no desire to touch a client's scrotum. Normally I would have asked that he leave his tighty whities on for that work, again, not because I am a prude but because it keeps everything contained, but he mentioned his problem after the massage had begun. Draping was key in this instance as well as his assistance in keeping everything in check while i worked.

it is funny that you mention Amsterdam. Most Euros I have massaged (A LOT) insist on wearing underwear during a massage whereas most Americans do not.

As for discusssion on draping in my studio. There is none. Draping is the law, the studio is mine, I am in charge, there WILL be draping, end of discussion. The only time it has ever been brought up was from a gentleman who wanted more than the services I offer.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Del Sol Massage Thu, April 7, 2011 - 7:13 AM by Del Sol...

I guess I should clarify, the only client who didn't receive draping happens to be my husband.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

sandy Thu, April 7, 2011 - 9:32 AM by sandy

I understand your post. There are for sure those who feel most comfortable tucked into a warm drape. My room is warm. The first person I ever did undraped was hot and a regular client. We went from towel to towel on his back as I did his gluts (Because of my size, I often sit on the legs). and then "since I am undraped, why not dispense with it". Nudity does not bother me - used to swim at Black's beach in San Diego.

I am not saying "it is wrong to drape" But I do disagree with those that say a client is a perv because he / she want it.

As to the abductors, I have several tennis players that have problems there. It is easy. I have them "cup" themselves with their hand and hold everything away. I would think that this would also work better if they are draped.

As to Amsterdam Spas, Have not "given" massages but here is web of place I went.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Del Sol Massage Thu, April 7, 2011 - 10:35 AM by Del Sol...

again, I should clarify, I have not worked in a european spa, I worked at a spa in the US that catered to a lot of europeans.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Amy Fri, November 4, 2011 - 8:48 PM by Amy

I'm a little late to post, but I had to respond because I was surprised by the original post from Sandy in TN. I am a massage therapist in Nashville and have been for 6 years and am very familiar with the laws and statutes and what was quoted by Sandy regarding draping is only part of the statute.

Our Massage Board statutes are VERY clear that undraped massage is ILLEGAL in the state of TN. Infact, according to TN State law, exposing genitals during massage is a Class A Misdemeanor. (The reference number for this in state law is 39-17-918)

I personally have no issue with your personal feelings regarding draping vs no-draping, but here in the state of TN, regardless of what you think, by doing undraped massage you are not only breaking the law, but acting in a very unethical way. It's something you can lose your license over and more. You may want to reconsider your practices ASAP. Or if you feel strongly enough, you have the option of presenting your feelings to the board or simply moving to a state where draping is legal. There's still a few left.

I copied and pasted complete statute from which you were quoting directly off the TN Massage Therapy Board's website: Rule 0870-1-.19(1)(t)
with a massage to the client, each massage therapist shall have explained to the client expected
draping techniques and provide the client a clean drape large enough for the purpose of draping the
buttocks and genitalia and in the case of a female client the breasts. Such body parts must remain
covered except during therapeutic treatment of those specific areas, with the exception of the
genitalia, which shall always remain covered.

Anyway, thought you'd want to know.

Comedic Movie about what pervert clients say

Whit Wed, April 4, 2012 - 7:47 AM by Whit

Hi there! I'm a Massage Therapist (7+ years exp.) and I collaborated with a filmmaker to make super-short comedy/film about some of the ridiculous stuff that people (mainly guys... Lol) have said to me as a Massage Therapist... The link to my video is below... Do you mind  REPOSTING/SHARING ON YOUR FACEBOOK? 
I would really like for other Massage Therapists and Facebookers to see it...  Thanks!
Ps-It took a lot of guts to make it... So, at the very least, I hope you at find it slightly amusing or entertaining!

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Gary Tue, December 25, 2012 - 9:03 PM by Gary

I just ran across this post and have to agree with Sandy. I do not like to be draped during a massage because it is distracting. So instead of being fully relaxed I lay on the table and wish the towel would be adjusted a little or I just don't like the feel of it. Just the short time it takes to drape another part of my body is distracting.

I have found Nashville is not very open to no draping.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Cedar Rapids Iowa Lonnie Mon, January 7, 2013 - 11:10 PM by Cedar R...

I think that the only people who think it's wrong to not cover a client are those who were taught that it's wrong, either by an ethics class in massage school or by society in general. IT IS ABSURD to believe that it is wrong to not cover a client, if that client isn't modest. People tend to believe whatever they're acculturated to believe, without questioning.

I LOVE not being draped, when I get a massage and also prefer not draping my clients.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Del Sol Massage Wed, January 16, 2013 - 7:53 PM by Del Sol...

It isn't that it is "wrong" it is the LAW. That is a big differnce. One's personal feelings do not play into it. In my state full draping is mandatory. No exceptions.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Del Sol Massage Wed, January 16, 2013 - 7:55 PM by Del Sol...

and after looking at your profile page I can see why you say what you do. Your example is exactly why there is a law stating that draping is mandatory. You give us all a very bad name.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Erica Datura Thu, January 17, 2013 - 11:02 AM by Erica D...

The draping issue is one reason I'm doing more shiatsu and Thai and moving away from Swedish.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

Eric Tue, April 16, 2013 - 6:54 PM by Eric

Amy, I think you need to review the law a little closer. In TN it is NOT a Class A Misdemeanor to provide an undraped massage. The exact quote for the law you referenced is "It is unlawful for a masseur or masseuse to expose the masseur's or masseuse's erogenous area for compensation or to touch with any part of the masseur's or masseuse's body, or fondle in any manner or massage an erogenous area for compensation...." The masseur is the person giving the massage, not the person receiving the massage. This means the therapist can't expose himself/herself, but the TN code is silent on the draping of the client. I welcome you to provide a different citation, but I certainly have never found one.

Next, we have to differentiate between what is required from the criminal code and what is mandated by the Massage Board. Massage Board regulations aren't "laws", so what they say isn't "illegal." It is simply what a licensed person needs to follow to retain their license. This leads to my second point. 0870-1-.02(3)(b) says "Before proceeding with a massage to the client, each massage therapist shall have explained to the client expected draping techniques and provide the client a clean drape large enough for the purpose of draping the buttocks and genitalia and in the case of a female client the breasts." Note, a drape only needs to be provided. The regulations do NOT say the client must use it. (I'm also not sure where you got your cite from).

I am a TN licensed massage therapist, and draping is optional in my studio. My idea is a massage should be client-focused, with the client's comfort paramount. If that means a client would rather be undraped, so be it. As therapists, we shouldn't have hang-ups about the human body. And let me point out, I had a teacher in my massage program try to say that it is illegal in TN to do an undraped massage. I quickly proved him wrong, and I have never had a problem with my draping policies with the licensing board.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

glen Sat, March 8, 2014 - 12:15 PM by glen

On a very recent visit to a local massage therapist, I started out draped. During the massage I was asking her what the law was regarding draping, and I explained to her because I'd been to another massage place a month earlier where I started out being draped and the therapist sort ''nudged'' the draping away until it ultimately fell on the floor. Once it fell to the floor, the masseuse picked it up and tossed it onto the chair but never bothered to drape me after that.

The therapist I saw more recently told me she was not aware of any law (in California) that 'requires' draping. She further explained that she was ok with it if the clients wanted to be undraped. She also indicated that basically it is whatever the client and masseuse/masseur are both comfortable with. I removed the draping during the session with her and she proceeded with the massage in a professional way.

On the flip side, I've been to some masseuses who literally yanked the drape right off me the moment they walked in the room, while other masseuses were fanatical and insisted on covering me from shoulders to ankles and would only uncover the specific area they were focusing on (leg, arm, mid/lower back, etc) then they'd restore the draping to position when they'd finish that section.

All of the massage places I've been to are in California. So, I'm not really sure if there's any law that actually exists in Calif., but I was pretty sure I'd heard (on a CNN story on the massage/sex trade) that draping is required, and that masseuses are required to wear clothing that is not suggestive or revealing (no short skirts, no low-cut tops/bikini or halter tops, etc).

So I am left to wonder.

Re: draping and new massage ethics

ace Fri, May 9, 2014 - 10:04 AM by ace

I am a male who has a ton of pain management issues from a disorder I have. I would never have undraped massage, but prefer to be minimally draped. I hate heavy blankets and when people put a quilt type drape up to my neck..and I am near sweating. I don't really like heavy things on me. When there's more draping, the therapist must fiddle with it more, and it takes time away from the massage, and prevent longer, gliding strokes which I do better with. Being minimally draped would be uncomfortable for some, but I am so tired usually I just don't care, and have surrendered myself to the trust of the therapist. I try to zone out, so if I was every accidentally exposed, I might not even know it, because I don't want to sit there and worry rather than relax the entire session. I've found many therapist will start out with strict draping, but once they get to know you and trust you as a client, they relax their standards and are more willing to try new things.