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Many practitioners' careers suffer because of carelessness about the finer points that make clients comfortable. Quality of care means more than giving a good massage. Many times, what makes a client leave a therapist has nothing to do with whether they give a good massage; sometimes, it's the framework—the nuts and bolts—of the business. Below are some of the reasons clients give for leaving one therapist and seeking another—many times prefaced with a statement like, "She gave a good massage, but . . ." • The bathroom at her office was dirty. • Her treatment room was cluttered. It looked like a garage sale. • She never seemed to listen to me when I was telling her what was wrong. • She had an earpiece and answered the phone during my massage. • She would just sit there holding her hands on me. I didn't know what she was doing. 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 . 33 HEART OF BODYWORK best practices The Nuts and Bolts of Boundaries By Laura Allen • My massage never started on time. • She only had one hand on me and was texting someone. • She was always calling to reschedule my appointment because "something has come up." • The sheets smelled funny. • I was uncomfortable because there was only a candle burning in the room and no other light. • She talked my ear off about her children and her personal problems. • She dropped hints that I should leave a tip. • She talked about other clients to me, so I figured she'd talk to them about me. • She smelled like cigarettes. • Her office smelled like perfume, and I don't like lavender. • I was uncomfortable with the bolster under my knees, and she said I had to have it. • She wasn't very friendly. • She always tried to sell me something. • She dressed sloppy and was barefooted. • She asked me to come to her church. • Her cat/dog was in the office. When framework isn't stable, sometimes clients are uncomfortable without knowing why. They just feel out of kilter. They may be more demanding or more tense than they would be if they felt attended to and safe. Practitioners also are affected by unreliable framework: not only are we more likely to be dealing with cranky clients, we can also be drained by the lack of stability in our work lives. Consistency, care for the client, and the ability to set limits well can go a long way toward a solid, satisfying practice. And we will last longer in this profession. Laura Allen is the massage division director of Soothing Touch. A licensed massage therapist, she is an accomplished author and educator. Allen resides in Western North Carolina with her husband Champ, also a licensed massage therapist. Contact her at Illustrator Mari Gayatri Stein traded her hometown of Hollywood for an artist's vocation in the mountains of Oregon. From the organic farm she shares with her husband and two rescue dogs, she has authored 10 books, and illustrated countless more. To learn more, visit Editor's note: In 2017, we are delighted to print excerpts from Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart 4th edition. Nina was a longtime Massage & Bodywork columnist; prior to her death she handed her work over to Laura Allen who's created this new 2016 edition. (Adapted with permission from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins).

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