Massage & Bodywork

September | October 2014

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34 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 4 CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education Managing Client Emotions By Anne Williams During a massage session, changes at both the structural and chemical level can lead to the surfacing of emotions in your client. Massage therapists must learn to manage these emotional releases in a way that supports the client and maintains the integrity of the therapeutic relationship. Emotions can be described as the truth of the body-mind. They help people connect to what has meaning, what is really happening, what requires attention, and where letting go can occur. When emotional release happens in a massage session, it can be viewed as a natural process, where a healthy shift of the client's body-mind leads to greater equilibrium. REASONS FOR EMOTIONAL RELEASE DURING MASSAGE Clients might experience a variety of emotions during or after a session. Here are some examples of what might trigger an emotional release: The Fullness of Life Massage can evoke tender, open feelings not based on sadness, but rather on the recognition of the fullness of life. Massage allows a space for inner exploration, where people can reconnect with themselves and embrace their challenges and triumphs. As the therapist, you might see the client's face soften and the eyes turn misty. Gentle tears may escape from the sides of the eyes and the client may take deep breaths. Recognition of Disembodiment Disembodiment refers to the sensation of being disconnected from the experiences of the body, or alienated from the body. Such feelings are often unconscious. A client can be shocked when the therapist points out a physical holding pattern, such as hunched shoulders, in a mirror. The client doesn't view himself as hunched and fails to recognize the physical sensation of hunching. Massage brings a person back into his body, and suddenly he is connected with his body's sensations and needs. This can stir deep emotions. A sensation of grief might be felt as the client recognizes his previous disassociation from his body and experiences the sense of dismay this produces. Remembering Repressed Memories Researcher Candace Pert's theory is that repressed emotions, and the memories that surround them, become stored in body tissue on a biochemical level. Massage manipulates the tissue where these memories may be biochemically stored, often allowing them to resurface into the client's consciousness. In some situations, these memories can be frightening or traumatic for the client. Let the client know he is safe and that you can help him find the right people to further address these feelings if need be. Freeing Emotion Held by Physical Tension On a similar note, as the physical tension in a client's body is reduced and softened during massage, emotions held in by tension patterns are freed. Often the client doesn't have a specific memory that goes with the emotion, perhaps because different emotions have been building over time. It could be possible for the client to remain in the emotion, or travel through a variety of conflicting or related emotions without self-awareness of what is happening.

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