Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2022

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Self-disclosure is when you reveal information about yourself to someone else. While in some instances it can be used to help our clients, we should use it sparingly. When we go overboard with self-disclosure, it makes the session about us instead of about the client. Massage should always be client-centered. On the side of being helpful, self-disclosure may be appropriate when a client has a condition you happen to share or is in a circumstance you have personally experienced. The client who was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia may feel encouraged if you say, "I was diagnosed three years ago. I've found the more active I stay, the better I feel. I've started walking a couple of miles every morning. It seems to really help lessen my symptoms." That's saying enough. You don't want to sound like you're preaching at her to get out and exercise. To the client who gets emotional on the table, acts distressed or embarrassed about it, and then confides that their mother recently passed, a response such as, "I understand. My mom passed last January," and then turning the attention back to the client is fine. We need to keep the focus on the client. When we overshare our troubles with the client, we are taking away the time and attention they are paying us for. Especially in a small town where people tend to know each other, a client may be the one to bring up something, and sometimes in a gossipy way such as, "I heard your husband left you!" When someone does that, give a polite but short answer, then turn the focus back to them with a comment such as, "I appreciate your concern, but I don't want to spend your session time talking about that. Now, let's get to work on your neck issues." Clients you've never seen before may ask you questions that are too personal or about things you prefer not to discuss with clients at all, such as politics, religion, or your personal beliefs on some hot topic. If it's a question you deem to be too personal, you can say, "I try to keep my personal life and my business separate, so I'd prefer not to talk about that," or "I make it a policy to keep my focus on my clients, not on the President. Let's see what we can do to help your back pain today instead of talking about that." Some people may be offended you didn't give them the response they were digging for, but that's not your problem. Keep the focus on the client and limit self-disclosure to times when it is helpful. 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. Self-Disclosure Use It Sparingly 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 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 91 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK TAKEAWAY: Revealing personal information to clients can be useful if it pertains to the client's own issues, but self- disclosure should be used sparingly.

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