Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2011

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q & art BY ART RIGGS HONORING AUTHENTIC EMOTION Q A DEAR ART, I'm taking an advanced continuing education (CE) class and the instructors are trying hard to elicit a strong emotional release when demonstrating on models. This upsets me. I feel this is unethical and potentially harmful, and it conflicts with my previous training. What is your opinion? —FRANK DEAR FRANK, I can empathize with your feelings—or rather, "I feel your pain." Some teachers in my CE classes over the years appeared to be trying to impress practitioners with the power of their work by demonstrating their ability to initiate emotional release. Some therapists in the class reserved their spots in queue for a meltdown virtually every day so they could have their 15 minutes of fame in the center of the healing circle. My opinion is that expanding our skills is an important part of the profession, but it should be limited to our professional parameters. You're correct: playing amateur psychologist is in conflict with our scope of practice as bodyworkers. I know several clients who expressed their distaste for what they consider to be intrusive and leading questions by some therapists attempting to steer the session into psychological encounters. If one wants to be a psychologist, then by all means pursue that goal with accredited academic training and a long period of supervision. But how would we bodyworkers feel if psychologists began offering massages without proper training? The mind-body relationship is very real, though, and one of the wonderful gifts we can give our clients is the ability to feel and express their emotions within proper boundaries and in a safe environment. Spontaneous emotional reactions do happen during bodywork, and I will offer a few suggestions for dealing with them. However, there is a huge difference between allowing emotions to naturally occur and the manipulation of tune in to your practice at ABMPtv 31

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