Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2021

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L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m p.co m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 71 WHO'S IN CHARGE? During your intake, let the client know they are ultimately the one in charge. At any point during the session, they inherently have the right to tell you to stop a particular technique, revisit an area where they would like more attention paid, or adjust the level of pressure. To reaffirm your commitment to their boundaries and increase their sense of safety and trust, remind the client they always have agency over their own body. Honoring this integral aspect of the client-therapist relationship requires that you let go of your ego or any false notions of control. Most clients know what they like and what they want, and they will communicate it clearly when given the chance. But always use your common sense and avoid inappropriate touch that might cross a boundary or exacerbate an injury. Also, be mindful to not injure yourself or disregard your own boundaries. PRESSURE LEVEL As detailed in Part 1, be sure you know the type of session and the amount of pressure the client would like before you begin. Work gently as you start, and build in pressure based on the client's expectations. If you find that a different pressure not initially requested might be more effective, always ask first before acting on impulse. Setting this intention reiterates that the client is in control of their own body and can accept or decline your suggestion. One method used to empower the client is a 1–5 pressure scale to communicate if you are using too much, too little, or just the right amount of pressure. In Part One of "Keeping Clients Safe," we discussed how to avoid injuring clients. In Part Two, we will look at another way we can protect clients by attending to their personal and emotional safety. A successful practice is one where all participants—clients and therapists—respect and value each other's personal boundaries. C ultivating sensitivity and trust is essential to keeping clients safe—especially as we are aware that many women and men have experienced physical or sexual trauma in their lives. According to the National Council on Behavioral Health, 70 percent of adults in the US have experienced some type of traumatic event. That's equal to 223.4 million people, so it is highly likely you are working regularly with individuals who have experienced trauma. 1 This article outlines some clear guidelines and boundaries that will help create a safe, comfortable environment for clients, not just those for which trauma is a factor. Safety is built on trust and trust takes time to establish. Yet, trust can also be lost in an instant. It is worth taking the necessary time and care to establish a therapeutic environment that feels both safe and respectful. ASK WHAT THE CLIENT WANTS As always, ask questions before you begin each session— even with regular and returning clients. For example: • "Where would you like me to work today?" • "Is there anywhere you would like me to focus on in today's session?" • "Is there anywhere you do not want me to work on today?" Additionally, when checking in with regular clients, be sure to ask: "Is anything different since the last time I saw you?" How to Avoid Violating Client Boundaries By Dr. Ben Benjamin

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