Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2021

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20 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m ay/ j u n e 2 0 2 1 best practices | BLUEPRINT FOR SUCCESS What Do We Owe Our Clients? By Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds Massage and bodywork are heart-based, caregiving professions. We concurrently practice an art and a science, serving the body and the mind. Many of us came to massage because we wanted a career that included meaningful work and connection to others. In the same vein, that desire to connect and serve can cloud boundaries and turn into service from an entirely emotional place. This is a recipe for resentment and burnout, all too common in our field. In our January/February 2021 column ("Code of Ethics," page 26), we explored creating a personal code of ethics and considered our responsibilities to our clients. Included in my own personal code of ethics were the following: • Provide the best possible care given my abilities; refer out if a client's needs are not being fully met by my services. • Work only within my scope of practice as defined by my state regulations and training. • Keep clients emotionally and physically safe. • Vigilantly protect confidentiality. As I dive deeper into how I serve my clients, I find myself thinking about the less tangible aspects of practitioner-client relationships, boundaries, and exactly what my service to clients includes, in a holistic sense. I've heard many stories of practitioners who stay late for clients, tolerate uncomfortable situations, or give discounts out of a sense of guilt or loyalty. I've wondered about the balance between generous caregiving and good boundaries. I've wondered: What do we owe our clients? WE OWE CLIENTS CLARITY AND HONESTY We should be clear and honest about if and how our services can help clients achieve their desired outcome. If a client comes to me because they heard massage can help improve thyroid function, I owe that client the unequivocal truth of saying, "I have never heard of any credible information demonstrating massage can change thyroid function. We know massage can help with stress. I am happy to provide massage for the purposes of stress relief; that's what I do! But I want to be clear there likely won't be a change in your thyroid function as a result of massage." We also owe clients and potential clients our honesty— even in uncomfortable situations like when we do not wish to schedule an appointment with them. It's very hard to say, "I was uncomfortable with your behavior at your last visit, so I've decided to terminate our professional relationship." I've seen many MTs get trapped by their own dishonesty when they default to "I don't have any appointments available" when in fact they do. Lying to a client or potential client is a bad idea. Best case scenario, you are a liar. Worst case, you're a liar and it will backfire. You'll run into that client at the grocery store on the day

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