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Preventing/Avoiding Sexual Advances in A Massage/Spa Setting

50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances

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Preventing/Avoiding Sexual Advances during a Spa or Massage Session

“50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances”
by Eunice

This article/report is not an all encompassing, everything-in-it method of preventing or avoiding sexual
advances in a spa or massage session. The methods and ways described herein are intended to at
least minimize, if not totally eradicate a common malaise of our industry, having to deal with “sexually
charged” clients. Like anything else in life, there are no guarantees and the practitioner is cautioned
to use their own judgment about their individual circumstances and act professionally and
accordingly. Trusting one’s guts and intuition may prove life-saving in some cases. As in all my
writings, it is presented in a contemporary style to address mainly the practitioners and spa, massage
clinic and wellness center owners or operators and a minority of the inquiring public.

Let me be clear that there is no one way to totally avoid sexual advances or offers of such. Massage
is by nature an intimate and pleasurable experience but it is not intended to sexually gratify a person.
Some spa and massage therapies require the client to be semi-nude and sometimes naked. Even in
the most professional setting the massage/ spa professional is exposed to being vulnerable to
temptations which might lead to awkward situations. We can combine several of the pointers
mentioned and act with due diligence. Practitioners in the spa, massage and wellness industry should
perform their tasks that only true and unadulterated professionals do.

Recently, I have been asked again a truly valid question, one relating to handling clients who are
taking advantage of their practitioner (whether this is a spa therapist or massage therapist). There are
some ways of handling this, but let us first take into account what one validates (on a professional
perspective) as “taking advantage or inappropriateness” means. Ano ba talaga ang maco-consider
nating inappropriate? These are some examples (and by far, not a complete one) of inappropriate
1. When approached or asked by a client or practitioner requesting any sexual contact of any

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50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
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2. When a client is trying to touch the practitioner inappropriately or the client asks to be touched
in private areas including but is not limited to the genitalia.
3. Asking the practitioner to do something sexual apart from professional massage/spa therapy.
4. Making direct and/or indirect movements and comments that make it uneasy for the
practitioner to work professionally and proceed with the session.

How do you, as a professional, handle these types of clients? These are just some tips and pointers
in handling these types of clients, how to prevent sexual harassment during a session, setting
boundaries and how to free yourself from being perceived as a prostitute instead of a real, honest-to-
goodness” spa or massage professional. I said some as you can adjust the pointers listed here
depending on your specific condition. I am aware that there might be many questions and a
combination of answers out there and we are at our liberty to implement these pointers as befits us:

1. Most of the time, simple statements like “I cannot perform more than just massage or
professional therapy because I love my job” or “The only extra service we provide is a smile
and a hot cup of ginger tea (called Salabat in the Philippines) or rice tea, which would you
prefer?” or “if you cannot respect me in this way, I would be forced to terminate the session
and you will be charged in full sir/ma’am _______ (the client’s name).” Always address them
with sir or ma’am, so even in addressing clients you have already set your boundaries. Never
call them just by their first name or nick name. Overly sexual comments and requests or
suggestions of the client should be handled by comments such as “we only provide
professional therapies and anymore of those comments and requests will force me to stop this
session immediately and you will be charged in full price”. These statements should be
memorized and taken to heart by the practitioner.
2. Your establishment should have a clear and strict work ethics and guidelines which are to be
implemented not just written- again, these ethical guidelines should be implemented all
throughout the rank and file including management. No exceptions. An example of this rules
and regulations: sexual advances towards clients by any employee will not be tolerated.
Immediate termination of employee/s will follow any complaint that is investigated and where
legitimacy of the claim is determined.
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3. In cases that you cannot control or your safety as a practitioner is being compromised, you can
end the session immediately and ask the client to dress up and pay for the session and then to
leave the premises. The client’s name should be entered into the prohibited client database to
prevent any subsequent appointments being made by the client. Likewise, if you are the client,
tell your therapist that you are only interested in professional massage, nothing more.
4. Move out of the room and should not return until the client/guest has departed the premises.
5. Any sexual contact and indulgences between a client and a staff is equivalent to being fired on
the job.
6. Create an environment that is conducive to a healthy, relaxing and satisfying experience for
the client. Examples: do not display or post nude and sexually explicit photos, displays, etc.
inside your spa, massage clinic or wellness center; if your spa has a video or movie lounge do
not include videos that are rated X.
7. Never ever include any sexually appealing advertisements for your establishment or practice. I
have seen ads that goes something like “young, pretty, sexy, discrete masseuse for hire”,
“presentable, class A, awesome beauty, flawless, available for stag party”. Words such as
sexy, hot, macho, meztisa, irresistible, heartthrob, etc. should not be used at all costs. Hay
naku, ang ipinagtataka ko lang, why is it important to be sexy and with awesome beauty? Is it
not enough to be decent, clean looking and professional? So, if you want to be taken seriously
in your practice, never ever- and I say it again, never advertise like those mentioned above.
8. It should be stipulated in the employee’s manual that therapists are not allowed to date or to
have any other external physical relationships with any client while that person is a client of
your respective spa, massage clinic or establishment until after a period of six months since
the client received the last service. Definitely, NO dating with clients. As a practitioner, you are
not there to look for a boyfriend, you are on the job to make a living and not be looked down
9. The room should never be too darkly lit. To be technical about it, under Philippine laws, in PD
856 Chapter XII Section 5.4.1 states a room shall be provided with illumination to permit
effective inspection and cleaning in accordance with the DOH (Department of Health) general
illumination standards. The massage room shall be provided with a minimum of 10 foot-candle
or kilowatts (107.6 lux) have a minimum while a sauna bath room should be provided a
minimum of 5 foot-candle or kilowatts (53.8 lux) illumination. In 5.4.2. All lightings shall be
reasonably free from glare and distributed so as to avoid shadows. But if you will ask me, I
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50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
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would prefer lighting which can be adjusted so when doing massage or spa therapies it will not
have too much glare and when cleaning the room one can have enough illumination.
10. It is also the responsibility of the practitioner to communicate clearly with the client allowing the
client to be at ease and know that they are professionally (not sexually) handled.
11. During a massage, the practitioner should minimize, if not refrain from making direct contact
with “stimulating spots” like the inner thighs, groins, nipples, etc.
12. No touching of private areas and genitalia.
13. An experienced massage therapist should be able to guide the recipient through the massage
or spa process so that there will be little confusion about some of the basic areas that may
cause embarrassment or confusion. Like, if there are client concerns regarding a body scrub or
body treatment, the concierge, practitioner or therapist should explain to the client that he/she
will get undressed, get the armpits and butt rubbed, etc. will make the client prepare
psychologically on the procedure.
14. Presence of mind on where the practitioner rests their hands while the other hand might be
working. Example, if your right hand is doing a massage your left hand should be assisting the
movements of your right hand and should never rest in any private area of the recipient or
client. Hindi dapat nakadantay sa maselang bahagi o kahit sa malapit sa maselang bahagi ng
katawan ng client ang kamay ng isang therapist.
15. The amount of clothing worn during a session is dependent on the type of treatment or therapy
to be administered. Therefore, do not expect that you will be asked to take all your clothes off if
you choose Thai massage or Shiatsu. Normally these massage modalities are performed with
the client’s clothes on. It is also common to be completely undressed during a Swedish
massage BUT don’t despair, as your therapist will professionally drape areas which are not
being worked on. The bottom line is that, the client should be able to wear what makes them
comfortable but not to the point of distracting the therapist’s work or disregarding the policies
on clothing (if there are any) of the spa, massage clinic or wellness center.
16. Shorts can be provided by the spa to all clients and can be worn during the session.
17. The therapist should also instruct the client about what to expect before they begin to undress.
18. The therapist should leave the room when the client will be undressing and return afterwards.
Generally, no less than 5 minutes and should knock before entering. The practitioner should
also say something like “Ma’am/Sir ______ (name of client) are you ready?” before opening
the door.
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19. To quote again PD 856 Chapter XIII Section 5.8.2 a massage room shall be provided with
sliding curtain or wing type wooden door or equivalent materials at the entrance. Doors with
locks are not permitted. If you will ask me, my personal favorites are the sliding doors or the
accordion type doors. Some form of privacy is needed though when the client dresses and
20. The therapist should instruct the client to position himself/herself under a sheet or towel during
the massage session.
21. In some countries especially Middle Eastern countries, the therapist works only on a client with
the same gender.
22. The therapist should always cover the genitalia area at all times.
23. The therapist should ignore minor comments regarding giving “extra service”, “happy ending”,
“pocket massage” and provide professional answers instead of joking about it.
24. Respect the boundaries set by the client and establish your own conscience-boundaries.
25. No therapist should take their liberty or make assumptions relative to what parts of the body
can be touched. As a general rule, it is never appropriate to touch the genitals during a
massage or spa session. The client should never expect to be touched sexually and the
therapist cannot touch the client in a sexual manner.
26. Let us briefly touch the topic about breast massage. While there are documented benefits of
breast massage, it should not be included in a full, complete or total body massage. Breasts
(including nipples) are off-limits unless a very special request is made by a qualified therapist
or physician. This means that breast massage can only be included if and only if, it is indicated
in the patient’s (notice I used the word patient instead of client. guest or patron because of the
medical condition that this person, a patient really needs to undergo breast massage) plan of
care and only after receiving informed voluntary consent from the client and their qualified
health care provider (most often, a physician). But normally, breast massage should be
27. A professional massage therapist, whatever gender, should know how to deflect sexual
advances by a client. If a subtle response does not do the job then a forceful statement or
ending the session will be the correct alternative.
28. A client, who respects their practitioner, should feel confident to tell them that they feel they are
being touched inappropriately. If it is just an incidental/accidental contact or just a slip, the

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50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
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therapist should immediately apologize and continue with the client’s discomfort noted
29. The relationship between a client and a therapist should always be bounded professionally and
not personally. Therefore, therapists are not allowed to give their personal mobile numbers or
private contact telephone numbers without asking permission from management or having to
consult with their direct superior. In the meantime, if the client is persuasive let them know that
they can call the establishment during business hours so their concerns or any questions, if
there are any, can be addressed.
30. If you will allow any relationship between the therapist and a paying client beyond the massage
table or spa premises to a more social or even romantic connection is like inviting a host of
ethical dilemmas. Examples of preventing social relationships include: do not go out on a date
with a client, return a client’s phone call only within the premises of the spa or business
establishment and during business hours.
31. Although I do not personally agree, installing a security camera (focused only on the massage
table area and not the dressing area) inside the room to be able to monitor the activity in each
room can also minimize ‘sexual harassment” for any or both parties, practitioner and clients.
32. All clients should be draped, whether they like it or not, except for the head and the area that
the therapist is working on.
33. The genitals, breasts and nipples (especially for women) and the gluteal cleft (puwet or pwet)
should always be covered professionally. In some cases, a portion of the gluteal cleft might be
reasonably exposed if being worked upon.
34. The front desk people, concierge or receptionist should be able to screen clients before any
procedures and ask relevant questions as well as professionally answer any concerns the
client might have. It is very important that these people (front liners) project professionalism,
care to the health and well-being of the client and reputation of their establishment. They
should undergo training and briefing on how they should handle client calls, answer specific
questions, provide relevant data, etc. Inquire about this with your spa consultant.
35. If your establishment is accepting out-call or in-room services, be sure to bring a companion or
the company driver to drive you to the location. The central information center of your HQ (or
headquarters) should know the exact address, the time that you arrived and what time you will
be done with the session/s. Upon arrival, you should phone-in and let the HQ know about any
changes in the service/s to be done, do this where the client can hear you.
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50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
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36. Be firm in saying “NO” to any sexual requests and favors. Let the client know that you have a
firm foundation in your profession. This will help reputable clients feel safe and non-reputable
individuals know that they picked the wrong place and the wrong person.
37. Educate friends, relatives and significant others in the wholesome benefits of massage and
spa therapies. Treat them to a spa day; buy gift certificates for them so they can experience
the feeling and satisfaction of a client after a session. Thereby, dispelling the myth that
massage (or any spa therapy for that matter) is a sexual experience. If you are working in a
spa, massage clinic or wellness center, bring them at work and give them a tour on the
38. Never talk about a client unprofessionally between your colleagues. Examples of these
conversations, include, but are not limited to: “her butt is perfect”, “ay, ang guwapo ng lolo mo
ang sarap pagpantasyahan”, “makalaglag panty naman yang lolo mo” and other comments.
39. Before any procedure/s, let the client sit and fill-up an intake form that details some of the
common medical histories of the client including allergies, medical conditions like high blood
pressure, etc. This will at least prevent (if not, turn-off) the client from assuming that the
establishment is tolerating sexual services. It sometimes helps to interview the client after the
intake form is filled-up and just ask some follow-up questions like what prompted him/her to
have a massage? Is there any particular area that the therapist should focus on like the upper
back or head? What are the painful areas? Etc.
40. It depends on the modality or the service/s to be rendered but a clear intent should be set from
the beginning to work with the client’s quantitative goals. For example, a client came because
of chronic shoulder pains. In order to establish yung ating quantitative goals, we should ask
how long this has occurred, clearly explain the recommended therapy/ies to be made and how
many times in a particular period (whether weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.), the cost and the
expected results- assuming that the client really wants and can afford the program, you have
to meet the goals of the client.
41. I could not stress more about the practitioner’s demeanor and attitude in setting an appropriate
tone that would dispel any misconceptions regarding “extra services”. The client watches how
you handle him/her and any insinuation that you are open to an offer might give the client
“lakas ng loob” to ask the practitioner for an extra service. So watch your language and

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50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
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42. Professional boundaries should be established before, during and after the session/s. It’s okay
to be friendly and cheerful but do not overdo this and be careful about joking with clients.
43. Be aware of where you place the client’s hands while working with other parts of the body. Do
not place nor rub the client’s hand on your breast or inner thigh and other areas that might
signify that you are open for a sexual discussion or activity.
44. There are some body treatments or other types of waxing like bikini wax, Brazilian waxing, etc.
that would really entail the client to be nude. In such circumstances, maintaining professional
boundaries firmly in control is the best option. This is the time where you as a professional can
prove that you are a grounded and mature professional.
45. Always practice “distancia amigo” or distance while performing massage or spa therapy.
Meaning, always practice reasonable physical distance and focus less on your client’s sexually
charged areas.
46. Be aware and monitor your own breathing techniques and right body mechanics while
performing massage and other spa therapies.
47. There are some forms of massages that are oriented to sexually energize a couple or an
individual. Some of these are: tantric massage, yoni massage, sensual massage, couple’s
massage, etc. but as of this writing, these massages are rarely done in a spa, massage clinic
or wellness center. It is more often in the privacy of the client’s home. To a client who is
seeking these types of services, it is very important that you stress to your client that your
sessions are not to stimulate arousal and is therapeutic in nature. Therefore, you will neither
tolerate sexual advances, innuendos or sexual comments. Tell them that “my work is to bring
healing and a sense of well-being and relaxation.”
48. Inform your direct superior at once regarding any untoward incident so that necessary
precautions and the spa, massage clinic or wellness center’s protocol can be implemented as
per definitive guidelines.
49. Train your staff to give professional remarks, intelligent and respectful answers and proper
decorum. Your spa consultant can guide you through this.
50. Timed-sessions inside your spa rooms or installed wall clocks and your therapist knowing the
duration of the treatment/s to be made will minimize sexual interferences.
51. Decent looking uniforms should also be worn during his/her duty hours by the practitioner.

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50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
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All in all, there can be combination of ways that can at least deter clients on asking more than what a
professional really does. In other countries, different ways have been implemented in order to strictly
enforce client boundaries. To give you an example, in Minnesota, a client is not allowed to date their
therapist until after two years of his/her last session. In Indonesia, a chastity belt is being worn.
Thanks to the proliferation of day spas that slowly, the industry is now being perceived as a
wholesome, even family oriented environment. Hopefully in the future, there might not even be room
left for any sexually explicit activities in our industry just pure unadulterated pampering health and
wellness at hand.

A list of training centers, magazines, publications, books and literatures both local and international are all
available in the book, “The Spa, Massage and Wellness Resource Guide and Career Book”. You can order it
online via or for local Philippine orders, email If you are looking for a
career opportunity, not just a job in the spa, massage therapy and wellness industry, this book is a must read.

This article is written by: Eunice Estipona a spa consultant, mentor, advisor, speaker and lecturer.
One of her advocacies is to make healing and information regarding the field of spa, massage and
wellness accessible and affordable to everyone. If you are serious about turning your business or
practice around, making the right decisions, getting an unbiased opinion and knowing where to get
help, for lectures and other concerns she can be contacted at or
+639184745685. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site
These along with hundreds of resources found locally and abroad are contained in “The Spa,
Massage and Wellness Resource and Career Book”, the first book of resource information to know
more about the Spa, Massage and Wellness Industry in the Philippines and other countries including
the United States, Australia and other Asian countries. You can view, read, download and print for
FREE the book’s summary at this link

If you are a spa, massage therapy and wellness information seeker the resources contained in the
book for you. This book is a collection of data and valuable information regarding the spa and
massage industry in a global perspective with a focus on the Philippines. Her advocacy in writing the
book is to make “unbiased” information regarding the field of spa, massage and wellness resources
and career, accessible and affordable for everyone. If you are considering a career in the massage,
spa and wellness industry, this book will prepare you and give you a glimpse of what it is like, the
preparation you need to take: emotionally, intellectually and financially. In this book, you will learn
more details in the spa and massage field and the possible paths you can take. You will also learn
about local and international training programs offered and numerous employment possibilities.
Giving you much needed information at your fingertips. You can order it from or
for local Philippine residents, you can email and get in touch with Eunice at


Updated 2/27/2009
Preventing/Avoiding Sexual Advances in A Massage/Spa Setting
50+ Ways of Handling Client Advances
By 10
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Updated 2/27/2009