Physician practice of energy healing: boundary issues

Does physician practice of energy healing raise legal, ethical, and regulatory boundary issues?

Interestingly, it does.

Our law office can draft language in a consent to help protect the physician against civil charges such as battery (assuming the physician's conduct is not inappropriate). For example:

"My consent to using such approaches includes specific consent to the use of touch or other contact rendered as part of energy healing modalities such as Healing Touch or Reiki."

However, there are additional rules of law at play. For example, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine has Guidelines Related to the Practice of Psychotherapy by Physicians (Adult Patients). These rules specifically address touch, and provide that other than "legitimate medical purposes" such as examination and treatment, physical contact should be limited to a handshake at the end of the session - but only "when this seems called for."

Also, a "reassuring pat" may be appropriate, or something more in an appropriate public setting.

No hug.

Deep eye contact: be sure it is not considered "flirtatious."

Is it all a matter of clear intent? Or does one need to fence in behavior a bit so as to comply with guidelines' rigid rules?

Interpretation often comes too late, after the fact. Being mindful of the written rules can help steer conduct as well as shape the practice, as we increasingly move culturally from the physical to the non-physical, virtual, and collective. In that transition to a more unbounded place, boundaries are still essential.