Many massage therapists receive only the most cursory education when it comes to professional referral. Generally, somewhere in the course of a professional ethics class we will be taught that we need to refer our clients to the appropriate healthcare professional when their needs go beyond our scope of practice. We are taught the limits of our scope, but given a vague catch all along the lines that anything beyond that should be sent to someone else, and when in doubt that someone else should be a doctor.
However, there is a lot more to know than just those couple sentences. Is scope of practice the only reason to refer out? By referring out, aren’t we just admitting to the client that we can’t help them? From a business point of view, aren’t we simply sending our paying clients away? Sadly, answering these questions is something that most of us have to learn by trial and error over years of experience. I have been fortunate enough in my career to work closely with a physical therapy practice, even helping to manage multiple clinics for a year and a half. In the course of that time I feel I have learned some valuable aspects to professional referral that I can share with my fellow massage therapists.