Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2013

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education Classroom to client | Pathology perspectives | body awareness | functional anatomy | somatic research Smart Session Plans Setting and Managing Goals By Anne Williams Session planning is the process of using information gathered during an assessment to set goals and choose appropriate techniques in collaboration with the client. Session planning helps ensure client safety, establish realistic client expectations, and guarantee an effective session that meets the client's needs. Clients visiting a spa on vacation or taking a cruise vacation are more likely to accept and enjoy a standardized wellness session. Clients who experience sore muscles from playing basketball over the weekend, have low-back pain from cleaning house, or for any other reason feel soreness, pain, or high levels of stress are more likely to need focused work in particular areas. After ruling out contraindications, session planning focuses on using data gathered before, during, and after the session to meet the client's unique wellness goals. Before the Session The information the client tells you before the session is very important. You want to understand clients' expectations for sessions, what they hope to feel like at the end, and the body areas where they want massage. Clients with a lot of experience receiving massage may have clear expectations and give you specific directions. Alternately, the client may have no experience with massage and need guidance. It can be helpful to ask, "What do you know about massage and what do you think massage will be like?" This can clue you in to clients' expectations, even when they say they have none. 40 massage & bodywork september/october 2013 During the health-intake interview, make general observations about the client's freedom of movement, symmetry, breathing patterns, stress level, and body language. These observations often bring to light a client's massage needs. If you notice a client turning his head cautiously, ask about any neck pain. If a client explains that she slept strangely and woke up with a stiff neck, focus a good deal of massage time in this area. If you notice a client taking shallow, rapid breaths, suggest starting with a deep-breathing exercise. A client demonstrating high levels of sympathetic dominance is likely to benefit from slow, calming strokes during the opening sections of the massage, while a client with an open body position in good physical health may be ready for strokes that are firm right from the start. Clients usually want something specific from a session, and their goals may be realistic or unrealistic. A client who worked all day in the garden and tells you, "I'm sore in every single muscle of my body and I don't want any soreness" has unrealistic expectations. Explain that you expect that the soreness will be reduced by massage but that there will likely still be some soreness after the session.

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