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Massage Mentoring: Building Your Practice
I’ve been learning about bodies for a long time and it still feels as if the surface is just being scratched. Each person that comes in for help with their body presents with an individual layer of idiosyncrasies unique to them. Even if 2 people come in with the same symptomology, the treatment protocol can be completely different. Allowing the person on the table to have their own experience within our shared experience is pivotal for a successful treatment. The therapist and Client must hear and understand what the other is saying.
Good Communication between a massage therapist and a client allows for a safe and trusting relationship to build. It is our responsibility as a therapist to hear and that they want a Swedish Relaxation massage and give them what they want even when we see they need more intensive work. We have to put our ego aside and honor the request. A therapist must also open the dialog up in a way the client can hear what we are saying to them. Pressure during a session is a good example of common miscommunications.
Clients don’t communicate pressure needs for many different reasons. For instance: They maybe naturally submissive, a veteran who was trained to ignore and not voice pain so as to not give up a location to an enemy, was your person abused physically, sexually, or emotionally, are they naturally masochistic? There are so many reasons people don’t understand and/or choose not to communicate honestly about the pressure a therapist gives. Preventative measures, as a therapist, can begin with a protocol to start all new clients supine to gauge their facial expressions. A therapist will know pretty quickly if the client needs a more in-depth understanding of how much pressure is acceptable. With good healthy communication about the depth of a treatment, trust will begin to form. Most of the time a more in depth explanation is needed, especially for a new client. It is telling that most first time clients need further explanation about protecting their body from another person they consider a professional.
The sacred act of working with another human body in a healing space takes time, energy and the practice of being grounded. Any time my ego gets involved, I will mess up EVERY SINGLE TIME. As a therapist, being aware of what the person’s body and energy are trying to tell us is pivotal. Intuition, deduction, knowledge, and listening carefully are the most effective tools for therapists’ use.
How does one begin to discern the difference between intuition, deduction, knowledge, body signals and ego? Time and practice is the best yet a very unhelpful answer. Gaining adequate experience tempered with radical self-honesty is the way most of us learn this skill set.
When I was a new massage therapist, I felt that going in deep was the answer to everything. The mindset “no pain no gain” is a trained cultural behavior and was re-enforced by my greenhorn massage therapist’s ego. The combination of youthful ignorance of older bodies and being deeply embedded into my ego was definitely a handicap to the good therapeutic care I was trying to give.
After my first 4 or 5 years, an injury (imagine that) made my work very difficult. A single mom, with no child support, taking a break was not an option, so I worked through the injury. An industry advertisement for continuing education touted “working the weight of a nickel“ piqued my interest. This technique promoting a lighter touch piqued my interest and I took my first Cranial Sacral Class. At the end of the class, I received a full CranioSacral treatment for the first time and was super disappointed. I felt as if nothing had happened and was irritated I’d taken the class. I quickly jumped off the table and immediately fell down. I know then my time and money were not wasted. The depth of the changes within my nervous system was so comprehensive, I fell to my knees because I got up to quickly. Sometimes the nervous system needs a moment to recalibrate significant change to the system. Inspired, practice with clients began immediately. It took years of practice to get a full working understanding of basic CranioSacral. Reiki also came into this new realm of light work healing around the same time. The understanding of the benefit of “lighter” work was an evolving process year by year.
As a therapist, the most important ego factor to remember is bodywork, massage, and energy work puts a body in an environment to heal itself. We FACILITATE healing for clients, but we don’t heal them. Essentially it is the client’s responsibility to heal to the best of their body’s ability after a treatment. When we think WE healed them, we are in the dark lands our ego.
Hands-on healing work can give a therapist a lifetime experience of learning and healing both individually and as a therapist for others. The learning is vast and enables us to grow in new directions often. Many blessings and opportunities will come your way in this line of work, so enjoy and bloom.
Illumina Sky founder, Elizabeth Williams is a massage therapist, bodyworker, yoga teacher, lightworker, intuitive and Reiki Master. Elizabeth has been immersed in the healing arts since 1993, developing her massage, energy and bodywork skills in both the spa and medical settings.
Elizabeth’s passions include CranioSacral Therapy, Reflexology, Thai Massage, Body Memory Recall, Massage Cupping, Raindrop Therapy, Reiki, Athletic Massage, Yoga lessons, and Yoga Inspired Bodywork.
Illumina Sky is a peaceful encompassment to dive deeper into honoring who you are. Allow Elizabeth to relax you back into your soul. Enjoy the peaceful surroundings of Black Mountain which provide the perfect wholesome healing environment you are looking for. Illumina Sky provides a rich opportunity to experience treatments that are uniquely crafted specifically for you.
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