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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 27 "The quality of their touch," she replied. "Some therapists, from the initial contact, put their hands on me with complete authority; I felt a clarity about what they were feeling and why. It just put me at ease, like they knew what they were doing and were fully in charge. Other therapists seemed tentative, which might be a lack of confidence. The difference was quite noticeable." I processed Ms. J.'s statements as we shared a moment of silence. So much of the focus of training in the field of massage therapy is centered around the therapist's assessment and subsequent response. Far less discussed is the reality that as we are assessing the people who grace our treatment table, they are assessing us as well. In our speech, in our body language, in our touch—what impressions are we giving them? Who's assessing whom? Douglas Nelson is the founder and principal instructor for Precision Neuromuscular Therapy Seminars, president of the 16-therapist clinic BodyWork Associates in Champaign, Illinois, and president-elect of the Massage Therapy Foundation. His clinic, seminars, and research endeavors explore the science behind this work. Visit, or email him at In our speech, in our body language, in our touch—what impressions are we giving them? OBSERVATION I paid close attention to Ms J.'s reaction to the group; she was observing us (including me) closely. In fact, following her comment about the varying level of experience and abilities between therapists in the group, she also commented on how fully engaged some therapists were. How did she determine full engagement? I thought back to watching her eyes when she was lying supine on the table while one therapist was treating her. She was glancing around the room, observing the other attending therapists who were not presently treating her. If those therapists were distracted or not paying attention to what the treating therapist was doing, she registered that as lack of engagement. PALPATION This aspect of her experience at the training was absolutely intriguing. I had to ask: "How is it that you determined one therapist was more experienced or competent than another?"

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