Massage & Bodywork


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W hen a client walks into your treatment room, they are asking for your hands to help them. But oftentimes, they are also asking—whether explicitly or implicitly—for us to tell them what's happening with their bodies. They are asking us to translate what our hands feel into words that make sense to them. In that request—and in our endless desire to help as much as possible—begins our trip down one of the slipperiest of the many slippery slopes of our profession. Because, more often than not, that request is for a diagnosis—or at least, the confirmation of their own diagnosis. And as we all know—but sometimes conveniently forget—diagnosing is one of those things we cannot do. And yet, we do it all the time. Sometimes explicitly. Sometimes without meaning to. We share our opinions, but it is easy for those opinions to sound like something more. You already know you aren't allowed to diagnose. I want to explore the much bigger and much grayer area of all the ways we talk to our clients. The things we tell them, the recommendations we make, the way we project our authority. It is in this murky realm where our good intentions can have unintended consequences. When we tell our clients what is happening in their body, we rob them of one of the greatest benefits of getting a massage: the chance to get to know your body more fully and to change your brain's narrative about your body. L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 49 KEY POINTS • Massage therapists aren't supposed to diagnose. There is some variety from state to state, but for the most part, we are allowed to "assess" but not to "diagnose." • When practitioners define and declare, we: (1) narrow our ability to see the whole client, (2) narrow how our clients see themselves, and (3) narrow the possibilities for our work together. • There are practical ways you can work with clients to create a sense of expansiveness and possibility, before, during, and after your sessions. How Our Friendly Advice Can Backfire By David M. Lobenstine

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