Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2019

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HEART OF BODYWORK best practices I frequently receive emails from therapists who think their clients talk too much, tell them things that are too personal, or ask them questions that are too personal. We've all had clients who like to talk … in fact, some of us like to talk. I've had massage from plenty of chatty massage therapists. I try not to be one, but I do base the amount of talking I do on the client's behavior in that regard. I figured out early in my career that for some clients, social interaction is just as important to them as the massage. Maybe they live alone and lack someone to talk to. If they are initiating the conversation, I let them talk. It's their time; they're paying for it. If a talkative client is truly a distraction to the work you are doing, you might handle it by politely saying something like, "Let's stop talking for a few minutes so we can focus on your shoulder. I may need some feedback on what I'm doing. I want you to get the best possible benefit from the massage." Then, you might engage them in a little passive or active stretching and ask how it feels, or where it hurts, to keep them feeling involved. Clients sometimes treat us like counselors, telling us about their personal issues, sharing stories about their divorce or breakup, their problem children, problem parents, problem coworkers, or whatever. We sometimes hear more than we want to. Avoid giving advice—even if you're asked. It's best just to make sympathetic but noncommittal comments like, "Oh gee, I don't have any idea what I'd do in that situation." It's not our place to counsel people or comment on their personal problems. It's not always negative; some clients may go on and on about their wonderful relationship, their wonderful children, or their generally wonderful life. Just be happy for them and say, "That's nice!" Nothing more is necessary. Some clients may ask us personal questions. Something like, "Do you have any children?" is innocent enough. But if a client asks you anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, just say, "Why do you ask?" That could be anything from "Are you a Christian?" to "Did you vote for Donald Trump?" That is none of the client's business, but you can't say that. You can say something like, "Please don't take it personally, but I prefer to keep my personal life separate from my work life, so it's my policy not to discuss personal things with clients. Now let's focus on seeing if we can help your sciatica." Turn the session back to the bodywork. Sometimes you may have to do that repeatedly, but eventually, they'll get it. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and a provider of continuing education classes since 2000, and is the author of numerous books and articles, including Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, 4th edition, which was entrusted to her by Nina McIntosh before her passing. Allen resides in Western North Carolina with her two rescue dogs, Fido and Queenie. The Talkative Client By Laura Allen If a client asks you anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, just say, "Why do you ask?" Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 31

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