The consideration of legal issues is a critically important subject for EFT practitioners and one that is often ignored or dismissed. It can be confronting and feel overwhelming. But let’s proceed, knowing that tapping is an excellent resource for calming anxious feelings.
From the outset, let us say that we are not attorneys and we rely on the legal advice of counsel when it comes to such matters, as that is their arena of expertise, just as EFT is ours. So the purpose of this article is not to offer legal advice but to offer insights that we have gained from mentoring and coaching EFT practitioners on how to market their EFT business ethically, with legal considerations in mind and with integrity.
Though there are many important issues surrounding the ethics of an EFT practice, including informed consent, proper referral, scope of practice, and more, this article focuses purely on marketing considerations.
We will be honest with you.
When we look around the Internet at EFT practitioner websites, we often find ourselves cringing. We don’t mean that the graphics or look of the website is unappealing; it frightens us as to how legally vulnerable they make themselves. A high majority of websites have significant factors that are problems from a legal risk management perspective. We see “guarantees results” and we find diagnoses listed that the practitioner treats, an absence of disclaimers, improper/illegal use of copyright images, and more.
The illusion that “if other people are doing it, so can I” seems to run rampant. Just because you have not been contacted by an attorney, professional board, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yet does not mean that it cannot or will not happen.
A while back we learned that lesson when Getty Images contacted us about our use of one of their images we had found on a Google search and had used on a blog years ago. Getty Images told me they had the right to fine us hundreds of dollars for every month that the image had been on our website. Fortunately, we were able to settle for only a fraction of that amount.
EFT, Energy Healing, and other alternative health practitioners often act as if they live outside the scope of advertising laws. Given the fact that many of them (including most tapping practitioners) receive minimal information education about ethical marketing, this lack of knowledge is reflected blatantly on many a website. Inappropriate marketing and advertising is a huge problem in the EFT world, as it can include the misrepresentation of qualifications of the practitioner, misleading use of EFT research in the passionate attempt to excite potential clients about EFT and its effectiveness, and false claims, all of which have the potential to create harm to both client and practitioner.
Midge Murphy is our “go to” professional in this arena. She was the first attorney to receive her PhD in Energy Medicine and, as such, understands both the law and the healing arts. She has created risk management programs that we think are so important that we have included her program within our EFT Marketing and Business Academy coaching training. She has been a great mentor to us. She is also the author of the book Practice Energy Healing in Integrity: The Joy of Offering Your Gifts Legally and Ethically. Some of the material in this article is drawn from her book.
Many who will be reading this article live outside of the United States.
While many will consider the U.S. to be extremely litigious and perhaps overly extreme with legal considerations, each nation has their own licensing and advertising laws and practice regulations that should be explored by each practitioner. In the U.S., considerations can vary from state to state and profession by profession. Our advice is to implement strategies that adhere to the strongest of considerations, especially if you offer sessions in distant locations where clients reside in different state or national domains. Ultimately, the location of the client is where legal jurisdiction rules.
An important distinction needs to be made as to whether an EFT practitioner is a licensed provider or not, such as a licensed social worker, counselor, acupuncturist, and so on. Professional practice boards usually offer clear guidelines as to what is allowed in marketing a practice. Unlicensed EFT practitioners do not have a licensing board, but there are still lines that, if crossed, can get them into big trouble.
As Midge states in her book, “Both likened and non-licensed practitioners are subject to legal liability for fraud and misrepresentation in their practices…misrepresentation claims can arise from the practitioner committing false, misleading and/or deceptive statement or actions.”
Whether you are aware of it or not, there are state practice laws, consumer protection laws, and FTC regulations that are in place to keep consumers safe and free from misleading statements and practitioners. There is a task force in place in the FTC that actively reviews websites, especially regarding health claims and specifically targeting newly discovered therapies, such as EFT. And since EFT is not yet part of any established standards of care, EFT practitioners will be looked at with suspicious eyes if attention is drawn to us in any way.
We have personally known EFT practitioners who came under such scrutiny and all we can say is that they went through emotional, financial, and vocational hell for simple transgressions in how they worded the text on their website. You don’t want to be put in that position by being careless in the ways you market your business.
Here are 5 legal considerations:
- Unless you are appropriately licensed, never use words like “treat” or “examine,” or state that you work with conditions that are diagnoses such as PTSD, depression, arthritis, etc. Even the use of the word “pain” as something you can help could potentially trigger an investigation.
- Depending on where you live, the use of the title “therapist” can be risky and even illegal.
- You must have a clear disclaimer on your website.
- Never offer a promised or guaranteed result of your services.
- Be careful in the use and wording of testimonials. Testimonials are viewed as implied health claims and, without proof to back up such claims, you could be at risk for investigations and fines.
There are, of course, more considerations, but this is a start. This may cause enough concern for many practitioners to start tapping as they read this! But it is far better to know and prepare yourself than to be at the other end of a complaint or investigation.
Now you see why it is important to have an EFT business coach who has walked the path ahead of you and learned by trial, error, omission, and success! Having an attorney who understands your business is an obviously important team member to help you maintain your growing practice.
If you are looking to establish an EFT practice with ethical and legal considerations in mind, feel free to contact us at www.EFTMBA.com to find out more.