Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2016

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 39 PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES bad—is to irritate the client's skin or create a risk of infection if a lesion has cracked and bled. Both of these are easy to avoid with a little sensitivity. And if you're brave enough, you can enlist your client on your team: "I've never worked with someone who has psoriasis on their back before. Let's figure out a way to give you the best massage ever." You become the local psoriasis authority, and people will go out of their way to see you because you really understand what they're going through. Does your client have a thick layer of fat and fascia between you and her neck— where she really needs some great massage? Enlist her help in exploring new ways to work with her, maybe from a different angle, or with a different kind of traction. You aren't limited to the strokes you learned in massage school; you can use your imagination and compassion to create an experience that is customized to each client. Consider Forming a Peer Supervision Group New massage therapists may not face the reality of people's physical flaws and challenges until they're well into student exchanges or school clinics. If they're lucky during this time, they have some safe, private outlets for processing surprises or discomforts. But without this option, these feelings can interfere with their ability to do great work. I am always pleased to hear about schools that build in time for debriefing in relation to clinic sessions; it provides a model for appropriate peer supervision that students can use for the rest of their careers. This can easily be carried into professional practice; Want to Know More? This article was not written in a vacuum. It was informed by experience, observation, and the input of several deeply compassionate and articulate professionals who have also addressed this challenge. I especially recommend the following resources: Kelli Wise. Massage Therapy World. "Body Shaming—Not a Good Marketing Technique." www.massagetherapyworld. com/2013/09/client-shaming-not-a- good-marketing-technique. Tracy Bradley. The Comfort Zone Massage. "An Open Letter to My Massage Clients." www.thecomfort zonemassage.com/?p=721. Barry Hatfield. Hudson Massage. "Massage and Attractiveness." https://hudsonmassage. wordpress.com/2014/06/11/ massage-and-attractiveness. Dale Favier. "What People Really Look Like." http://dalefavier.blogspot. com/2013/09/what-people-really-look- like.html. Allissa Haines. The Young Thumbs. "Things That are Funny and Things That are Not." www.the youngthumbs.com/things-that-are- funny-and-things-that-are-not. We ordinarily work in isolation; a place to appropriately share our struggles and triumphs adds enormous richness to our professional lives. peer supervision groups are considered a best practice in many helping professions. For massage therapists, they can be an appropriate place to express discomfort or embarrassment—as long as this has the intention of seeking a solution instead of simply complaining. And if a group gets stuck, they can combine resources to bring in an outside consultant to help process difficult situations. We ordinarily work in isolation; a place to appropriately share our struggles and triumphs adds enormous richness to our professional lives. GO BACK AND TRY AGAIN We all make mistakes. To paraphrase Salvador Dali, we needn't fear perfection, because we will certainly never achieve it. Bad days will happen, and poor communication will muddy relationships. But we always have the chance to try again. We can build our compassion and unconditional positive regard again. The world needs our best; let's give it. And then, let's give it again. Ruth Werner, BCTMB, is a former massage therapist, a writer, and an NCTMB-approved provider of continuing education. She wrote A Massage Therapist's Guide to Pathology (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016), now in its sixth edition, which is used in massage schools worldwide. Werner is available at www.ruthwerner.com.

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