People seek massage for various reasons and to meet some very personal needs.
Clients desire and deserve to feel safe in the session room. They want to trust their massage therapist. Trust is, after all, the basic tenet if all healthy relationships.
It is important to be reliable, responsible and accountable, to create an atmosphere of safety and trust. Your words and behavior must be congruent in order to foster trust.
The ultimate ethical code of ” do no harm” is of utmost importance to the client. It often takes courage to make an appointment with a new massage therapist.
In addition, the client often enters your session room with the following questions that often remain unspoken: Will I like my massage therapist? Is my therapist technically skilled? Do I have to get fully undressed? What will her or his touch feel like? Where will I be touched? What will I be asked to disclose? Can I question my massage therapist? May I say no?
Perhaps there are even more questions that reside in the shadows of the client’s consciousness.
Had a client yesterday that was guarding her past and valuable information that might have made a difference in her massage session and overall health.
Intuition & Congruence
Creating an atmosphere of safety and trust is foundation of the client-therapist relationship. How do clients recognize this foundation?
First there is the element of intuition, a deep inner feeling in the client’s belly that is often quite informative. Oftentimes the quality of the energy between client and therapist is the unspoken language in the session room.
Next, there is the congruence of words and actions.
Do what you say you are going to do, always. Be early and prepared for your appointments. Do not cancel or reschedule unless absolutely necessary. Be professional, authentic and present. Do not look for your clients to fulfill your needs.
Clients feel our energy and sense our sincerity. I cannot stress this enough.
Following are a few guidelines for massage therapists to be aware of, and that promote an atmosphere of safety and trust.
- Explain all procedures to the client thoroughly. Identifying what occurs before, during and after a session fosters clarity and soothes nervous tension. This takes place before the client undresses.
- Client cooperation is established. What role do clients have within the therapeutic relationship? It is important to teach your clients how to participate in the session. For example; invite them to breathe, receive your touch in the quiet, feel the stillness, follow your touch, relax and sink into the table, to simply relax.
- Clients have permission to speak up if something does not feel comfortable during the massage therapy session. Clients can end the session at any time and so can your massage therapist.
- Clients have choices, including the simple choices of whether to begin face up or face down, the use of oil or lotion, extra heat on the table, areas of her body she does not want to be touched, what type of pressure she prefers, if she has a preference with music.
- Offer clear instruction regarding undressing and draping.
- Offer clear instruction on what to do after the massage is complete.
- Remember, the client holds full consent for your care.
- Listen. By bringing your whole self as a listener into the session room, you can be in touch with your clients in a way that is not often experienced in our noisy and fast-moving culture today. Think of it this way; every client has a message on his forehead that asks you the following three questions: Do you see me? Do you hear me? and Do you authentically care?
- Requesting silence if that is what you need.
- Offer your client quality of stillness and calmness of mind.
Technique is Not Healing
A technique is a way of expressing something. The technique is not the healing; it is a vehicle for the healing. The quality of the therapeutic relationship—rather than what the massage therapist does—is a foundation for healing.
What truly fosters the healing process is the way both therapist and client stand in relationship to each other. The magic and beauty occur when there is safety and trust: When the client truly feels safe and when the relationship feels trustworthy.
Communicate Effectively With Your Massage Therapist
Honesty is very important to getting an effective massage. Many individuals are afraid to communicate honestly with their therapist for fear of sounding “whiny” or “picky”. However, this should never be a concern. Remember, you are paying for a service. You should be able to get the most effective service for your money. This means that telling your therapists if something doesn’t feel good or telling your therapist that you’d like to focus on a particular area is more than okay. In addition, it is also important to be honest about any potentially dangerous medical conditions that might impact your session. In fact, did you know that massage therapists are bound to the same or similar HIPAA laws as your general practitioner doctor? It’s true! Therapists are bound by law to keep any medical related information private. You should always feel comfortable being honest with your therapist.
Communicate Before, During, & After
Communicating any acute or chronic ailments that your therapist should know about before the session begins should be communicated immediately. In addition, it is also important to give your therapist feedback during the session if there is something you aren’t entirely pleased with regarding your massage. For example, you could communicate that you want more or less pressure or that the table warmer is making you too hot. These are all things that the therapist can adjust to make your massage session as pleasant as possible. Post massage, it is okay to give your therapist feedback if you have questions about your session. Even if you’re just thirsty, it’s okay to tell your therapist!
Although many think that massage therapists are miracle workers, we are certainly not mind readers. Providing your massage therapists with specifics about your ailments or things that you would like to change about the session is a great way to make sure future sessions are super effective. In addition, if the client is not specific enough about their needs or desires, there is little the therapist can do to fully accommodate the client. In other words, specificity is very key when communicating your needs.
Communication with your therapist is key. Whether you need to tell your therapist about your high blood pressure or if you don’t like the pressure they are giving during your session, communicating is the only way to continue improving your massage experience. Communication is not all on the client by a long shot. So, if there is something that you think your therapist should know, please don’t hesitate to share.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company or specific massage therapy technique, modality or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.