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If you've been a therapist for a few years, chances are you've made some mistakes . . . most of us have. Some mistakes are unfortunately made with intention, but most are made out of carelessness. You may have exposed a client with sloppy draping, been too nosy about their personal life, said too much about your own personal life, or blurted out opinions you shouldn't have shared in a professional setting. Your long-standing regulars may forgive you for such infractions, but those slips won't make a good impression on a new client who doesn't know you. Hopefully, your family physician doesn't spend your appointment time whining about his divorce or cursing the economy, and neither should you. Put yourself in the client's place for a moment during these sessions. Imagine it's your very first massage. You're a little nervous about it, but you received it as a gift, so here you are. You are face down on the table and under the sheet as the therapist instructed, when she enters the room and says, "Let's get started." Suddenly you feel the sheet pulled down to where you know your buttocks are mostly exposed, and the therapist starts stroking from your buttocks to your neck. When she asks you to turn over, she's holding the sheet up in the air, and you feel very exposed. Since you've never had a massage before, you don't know if that's normal or not, so you don't say anything. You wonder if the therapist is trying to get a better look at your body, and you feel uncomfortable. A different scenario. You've had massage before, but this is your first time with this particular therapist. The therapist comments on your beautiful engagement ring, and you tell her you're getting married next month. The therapist immediately makes a comment that she'll never get married again and spends the entire hour telling you about her cheating partner and nasty divorce. You're too polite to say anything but you want to tell her you feel like you're listening to a soap opera instead of having a relaxing massage. During both sessions, the therapist feels like they're giving a good massage and helping the client relieve their stress and/or pain. But when it's time to leave, neither client rebooks; instead, they give a noncommittal "I'll call you when I need another massage." These are examples of less-than-professional behavior on the therapist's part, who had no conscious intention to make the clients feel uncomfortable. Carelessness was the culprit, but the client may not know the difference, so we need to stay hyper-aware of our own actions and how they reflect on our professionalism. 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, James Clayton, and their two rescue dogs. The Careless, Unintentional Mistakes By Laura Allen L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m 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 89 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK TAKEAWAY: Many times, mistakes on our part, such as sloppy draping, are made due to carelessness, without any conscious intent to do something unprofessional. Clients who don't know us well may not know the difference between carelessness and intention, so we need to be hyper- aware of being professional at all times. ELINA FAIRY TALE/PEXELS

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