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13 Feb 2020

Treating minors (that’s children and teenagers – not men in hard hats with pick axes!)

I’ve had a the same question recently from a couple of therapists that I am mentoring. “How to give treatments to minors?” I thought I would post here some info about that in case it’s helpful to you. This particular answer was about a 13 year old. 

Your level 3 Diploma doesn’t usually stipulate an age-range that you can safely massage. Therefore it’s fine for you to massage a minor. However you do need to be aware of the legalities around that.

Here’s what is says in the FHT code of conduct :

“Treating children and vulnerable adults
Members who treat children (persons aged under 16) and vulnerable adults must ensure treatments are safe and appropriate, and have a duty to safeguard and promote their welfare.

Members must consider whether a given therapy/treatment is safe and appropriate for the child or vulnerable adult.

When working with children and vulnerable adults, members must have knowledge of relevant legislation relating to their welfare and safeguarding and apply this to their practice. Such legislation would include the Children’s Act 1989, the Protection of Children Act 1999, and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

When treating a child or vulnerable adult, it is advisable to have a parent or guardian present for the consultation and treatment, and their details recorded on the client’s consultation form. This is to safeguard the member against any allegations of inappropriate behaviour. However, members can base their decision to have a parent or guardian present on a common sense/caseby-case basis, taking into account the age or vulnerability of the client, and the type of treatment being given. Members should make a note on the client’s record, explaining their decision to treat without a parent or guardian present.

Members must not treat a child or vulnerable adult without that individual’s consent, where the individual has capacity to give consent.

Members must have written permission from a parent or legal guardian before treating a child.”


So basically – just make sure you have written permission from the parent/guardian. Then you will probably want to make sure the parent can sit in the room while the therapy is taking place (unless you have a good reason not to, but then you need to write in your records why not.)

Then, on a teenager, I wouldn’t do a full hour massage, I would keep it to 30 minutes. Use lighter pressure. Also be aware that as a minor reaches puberty, they may be more self-conscious than an adult. So you might want to be careful about how you hold the towels when turning them over, how far down the back you pull the towel – etc
I would also let them decide whether they’d like their parent in the room while they get changed, or if you should both only come in once they are on the bed. Also be aware that a teenage girl may have painful breasts, whilst also possibly being too shy to say so.

Are you a member of the Orchid Massage Academy Therapists facebook group? If so in the “Files” section, you’ll find a Minor Release Form that you can use to get parental permission.
If you’re not a member, feel free to add yourself, or else let me know and I’ll email you the file.

And you might want to have a read of this article by the FHT on the subject. The article is a few years old, so doesn’t talk about the current VTCT qualifications, but the rest it is still valid.


Hope that helps! 🙂

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