Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 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 25 We all have basic needs: oxygen, food, water, clothing, and shelter. Those of us who are massage therapists get something we need out of our work . . . human connection and touch and the feeling we've helped someone. We are caretakers, and we get satisfaction when we've helped someone feel better. But what about our own needs, like emotional and social self-care? For those practitioners who were (or still are) out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for self- care became magnified as we sheltered at home. Many of us self-quarantined and didn't get together with friends and family as we usually might have done. Judging by the many comments on my social media, some had a much harder time adjusting to that than others. We are warned about dual relationships in massage school, but we should look at that in the context of our own emotional and social self-care. We can't do our best at helping others when we're not taking care of ourselves. Emotional self-care can take many forms: meditation, making a conscious effort to let go of negativity, doing something that feeds your soul, or seeking the guidance of a mental health professional. Social self-care also takes many forms. It might include having lunch with your best friend, attending a support group, or spending time with those who make you laugh and feel good. The one thing emotional self-care and social self-care have in common is the need for observing our own boundaries, and our clients' boundaries, when it comes to work. We sometimes need a reminder that when we are with a client, regardless of who they are, the therapeutic relationship needs to be honored. So even if you're giving a massage to your cousin or your old college friend, you shouldn't take up that time with the family gossip or catching up on 20 years' worth of what you've been doing since you last saw them. When that happens, the focus is no longer on the massage they came for. Take an honest look at your practice. If you're lacking in friends and/or family support, you may be unconsciously using your clients to fill the need for someone to talk to about your problems or viewing them as someone to socialize with. When that happens, the lines of the therapeutic relationship become blurred, and you may have to make a conscious effort to get out and meet new people. Attend a class, join a networking or civic group, or volunteer for a worthy organization. Taking care of your emotional and social needs makes it easier to take care of others without taking advantage of the therapeutic relationship. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition. Allen lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. We Have Needs Too Be Mindful of Your Therapeutic Relationships By Laura Allen best practices | HEART OF BODYWORK Even if you're giving a massage to your cousin or your old college friend, you shouldn't take up that time with the family gossip.

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