Massage & Bodywork

NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2019

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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 . 33 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education The Many Eyes of a Massage Therapist Use your hands' eyes, mind's eye, and actual eyes to leave your clients wide-eyed with amazement By Cindy Williams YOUR ACTUAL EYES Being visually alert when your client arrives to the session, as well as throughout the intake process, can offer valuable information on what they may need from the massage experience and what approach(es) you might take. Whether it's a fi rst-time client intake, which will naturally be lengthier, or a returning client with a quicker check- in, it's worthwhile to get in the habit of taking note of the following qualities: • Freedom of movement: Does the client move gracefully and freely, or do certain joints appear stiff, limited, or uneven? • Symmetry: Is one shoulder higher than the other? Is one hip higher? Does the client slouch? Is the head held forward of the body? (Note: For clinically oriented sessions, a formal postural assessment would be indicated rather than a general observation.) From the moment a client walks through the door to the moment they leave, we must observe. When we are thorough and present in our observation skills, there is a nearly limitless amount of information available that can be used to effectively choose and apply the appropriate bodywork forms and techniques, resulting in the most benefi cial outcomes. We have our actual eyes, of course, that see the client's gait, posture, movement quality, and mental/emotional state. But that's only the beginning. We also have our hands' eyes and mind's eye that tune us in to a deeper level, therefore providing a deeper quality of therapeutic work. You likely were trained to use all your "eyes" in your massage sessions; however, a reminder of these vantage points is useful since they are many. • Breathing patterns: Does the abdominal area expand when the client breathes? Do the ribs lift and expand? Is the client breathing rapidly or erratically, or is breath even, smooth, and relaxed? • Level of sympathetic dominance: Is the client speaking loudly or quickly? Are they gesturing excitedly, demonstrating a high level of animation when speaking of a particular topic? Are they sweating or shaking? Do they appear fatigued or depressed? • Body language: Is the client in a closed or open body position? (For example, rounded shoulders and a lowered head would be closed, while upright and facing you directly would be open.) Do they look you in the eyes? Is their jaw clenched? The study of visual observation for client assessment is vast. For the purpose of this article, I simply invite you to take in what you see and let it guide your area of focus, the pace of your massage,

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