Massage & Bodywork

MARCH | APRIL 2019

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24 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a r c h / a p r i l 2 0 1 9 BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS best practices Dual Relationships and Pricing By Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds Massage is a business, but it's a very personal business. In school, much of our "practice" is done on people we know from our personal lives. When we start and grow our businesses, many of our clients are people we know from other areas of our lives. Dual relationships are tricky. And adding money into the mix makes them even trickier. Some practitioners choose to not treat their friends and family at all. That kind of clear-cut policy eliminates the potential issues and awkwardness when people we know come looking for free or discounted massage. But that black-and-white "no massage for friends and family" decision doesn't work for every therapist and most of us juggle at least a few dual relationships. Providing massage to family and friends can cause boundary challenges for many massage therapists. Pushier people may ask for, or simply expect, free or discounted massage. Others may urge you to see them outside of your normal business hours. Further, as we transition out of the student role and into the business owner role, it can be tough to renegotiate massage arrangements with the people we practiced on. Our "student" agreements can go on and on until eventually we realize we're 10 years into practice and still not charging an old practice client a real price. Oops. So, what's a kindhearted but boundary-aware massage therapist to do? Here are some ideas for navigating the issues so you can come away feeling good about massaging a friend or family member. MAKE A DECISION Do you want to make a firm rule and just not massage friends and family? Do it. Make the rule. And when people ask, simply say, "I don't work on friends, but I'll get you the info for another local therapist who does great work." If someone presses the issue, you might choose to expand on that: "It can get really complicated to have a personal relationship as well as a professional, therapeutic relationship. So, I prefer to avoid it altogether." But you don't have to explain. "No" is a complete sentence.

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