Oh, hey. Sorry for not being on my weekly schedule. I got the bad ass flu and my computer went down. I’ll do my best to keep this up. I have so much to write about!
I would like to talk about boundaries and body awareness. Too often, I get clients on my table who complain about other therapists who don’t seem to respect their needs. I interview my clients before each session. Even if they’re regulars. Things change. Injuries happen and sometimes we want to try something new. I tailor each massage to the person I work on. Apparently, some therapists can’t manage that. They’re one trick ponies. Only being able to do bone crushing work or a weak, “spa” massage. Some therapists have a set routine and can’t seem to deviate. Nothing chaps my hide worse than a therapist who doesn’t listen or respect that you’d like more or less pressure or extra work on a particular area. I had to threaten to punch a therapist in the neck, once. (She was a co-worker) Because I asked for psoas work and she jammed her hand into the lower attachment, without warming the tissue. Seriously! She could have injured me. She was later fired for, guess what? Hurting clients. She did not know how to slowly sink into tissue. Every time I asked her to back off. She would huff and snort. “You need work there.” No respect, and it almost felt like she was shaming me. I do a lot of deep tissue work, but personally, I respond better to light work. There you are. Naked, vulnerable and trusting a person to take care of you. Instead, they batter, bruise and insult you. If that had been my first experience. I’d never get another massage.
What encouraged me to write about this. I had two, very different clients with some similar traits. My first, had never had a massage before. He was so worried that he’d get hurt or tickled silly. But he was in such pain, that he was willing to take a chance. He was delighted! He was also madly in love with my work and kept telling me he was going to follow me home. He asked me how many men wanted to marry me and then told me how aroused he was. It was a bit creepy, but then I realized. This man probably has very little experience in non sexual touch that feels this good. Massage does release endorphins. I gently educated him as he moaned and went on about how much his wife would love and needed a massage. His migraine had long since vanished. Good thing it was only a 30 minute massage. I’d have to pour him into a bucket after a full hour. So, another convert to the power of massage. Being present, understanding and knowing how the body responds to therapeutic touch helped keep things from getting awkward. Some, less experienced therapists might have panicked and stopped the massage. Leaving the client feeling shamed and justified in his fear. I had a wonderful teacher who told me. “You will attract the clients who need your work.” She was right.
The other client is a seasoned massage receiver. Visiting her parents and just a little stressed. She went on about her last massage at a high end resort. The therapist beat her up. Even after several requests to lighten up. She wanted 90 minutes of relaxing, “petting” massage. Not my favorite type of massage to give, but it was her massage and I wanted her to enjoy it. She did. Told me how much better I was than most therapists. I told her during the interview, like all clients. “If anything is uncomfortable. Let me know. If anything feels particularly yummy. Let me know. I’ll do it again.” I had a therapist at a student clinic who didn’t listen to any of my requests. When she did something that felt good. I told her and her response was a little, acknowledging noise and a quick transition to another area. WTF!? That’s your queue to do that again! You better believe she got a scathing review on her feedback form. The supervisor read it with horror and asked me if her initial touch was good, at least. I try to give positive feedback with constructive criticism, but this woman left me feeling enraged. It’s therapists like her that give the rest of us a bad name. I won’t tolerate it. Massage is not just a job for me. It’s a calling. Touch, empathy and just being present are powerful gifts. You have a naked, vulnerable, trusting, human being on your table. The very least you can do is listen and respect their boundaries and sense of self.