Massage & Bodywork

January/February 2011

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q & art BY ART RIGGS Q A DEAR ART, A few weeks ago, I took a great workshop with Erik Dalton and learned lots of new ways of working. Now I find that I'm hesitant to try anything, because I work at a spa and am afraid that the clients will think the new work is strange and not like it. I'm already forgetting a lot from the workshop. How do I escape from this straightjacket? —STUCK & PERPLEXED INTEGRATING NEW TECHNIQUES DEAR STUCK & PERPLEXED, You certainly aren't alone. Mark Twain once said, "I've had thousands of problems in my life, most of which never actually happened." It is amazing how often I hear concern that trying new work will send clients scurrying to more conventional therapists. As a Rolfer, I had the same thing happen when I studied craniosacral techniques and more subtle work. I worried that people who expected sharpened elbows and knuckles would be disappointed and that my longtime regular clients would wonder if an imposter had taken over my practice. Nothing could be further from the truth; my clients loved the new skills, just as yours will appreciate your new techniques, in addition to the relaxation work you may normally do. Just as some meat-and-potato people will never appreciate nouveau cuisine, some people might resist new bodywork. However, I think that the advantages of showing an increasingly discerning public your newfound skills far outweighs any downside; the rebookings from happy clients and word-of-mouth referrals will be evidence enough. It is far easier to draw clientele who return because they appreciate your work than to try to fit your work to your guesses about client tastes. Many therapists project their own—sometimes incorrect—assumptions about what clients expect. Some therapists assume any work that approaches intensity may be considered strange. Many mistakenly assume that clients don't want to be bothered in the midst of their headrest snooze to be moved for side-lying work, for example, or that a client will be unhappy if the session doesn't leave all parts of the body equally covered with excess lubrication. In reality, almost all clients will be grateful for skillful work that pays attention to their particular needs, instead of conforming to cookie-cutter convention. earn CE hours at your convenience: abmp's online education center, www.abmp.com 33

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