Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2022

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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 85 TAKEAWAY: Though it may feel uncomfortable at first to receive feedback from a client, it is important to teach them that it's not only OK, but encouraged to ensure they get the massage experience they're seeking. CLIENT EDUCATION Let's consider the when, what, and how of teaching clients to give feedback. When A great place to start is in a first-time client information packet. This can be delivered digitally prior to the session or on paper during the initial client intake. Just as you obtain informed consent via signed documentation, and communicate your practice policies and procedures, you can also use this opportunity to give a one-page document that outlines feedback recommendations. Then, when you deliver the client intake interview, have a brief discussion about feedback. As previously mentioned, set the tone by informing the client how important feedback is and that you welcome it with great care and a desire to deliver a session that adapts to their individual needs and preferences. Lastly, check in during the session. In most cases we learn to do this in school. But how often do you actually do it and how do you ask the questions? Do you say, "How is the pressure?" Or do you say, "Would you prefer deeper or lighter pressure in this area, or is this just right for you?" Do you say, "How's the face rest feel?" Or do you say, "Are you feeling any pressure points on your face or forehead with the face rest in this position?" Give clients options using specific language so they know what to be on the lookout for. What What aspects of the massage typically warrant feedback? A few suggestions would be: • Depth of pressure • Pace of the massage • Draping • General discomfort (This could include being scratched by a fingernail/hangnail, hair being pulled or dragged during stroke application, uncomfortable positioning of the face rest or bolster, feeling pressure or excessive congestion while lying prone, feeling cold and needing a blanket, etc.) Brainstorm an extensive list using resources from massage school. Reviewing class notes and referring to textbooks helps remind you of the details of the more subtle aspects of delivering a high-quality massage. How Let's talk more about how to craft an informational document for first-time clients. First, keep it simple, yet specific. For example, list a topic (such as draping) as a header. Then describe what good draping feels like and what exposed draping feels like. Then, give a sentence the client can use to communicate a feeling of exposure. It might look like this: Draping Draping establishes professional boundaries and maintains the client's modesty. The only area that is exposed while receiving massage is the one being massaged. The drape should feel snug and tight to your body. If you feel the sheet is not snug enough or if you feel exposed at all, please simply say, "Can you please tighten the sheet? I feel some exposure." It's as simple as that. Do this for each potential feedback topic. When you undrape the first area during the massage, ask, "Does the drape feel snug enough for you? If you feel any exposure, please speak up and I'll make the adjustment." FEEDBACK FIRST-AID If you find yourself in a situation where you feel a fight-or-flight response, such as defensiveness, take a deep breath and draw your attention to what thought crossed your mind. For example, when a client says, "That's way too deep," you might think "I really screwed up" or "This person is criticizing my work." Instead, recognize the root of your internal response. Then, consider that clients might not know how to articulate themselves with finesse and simply want to feel comfortable. It's not about you or anything you've done wrong. Reframe it by reminding yourself that you want them to have the best possible experience and you are grateful they are asking for what they need. Typically, autonomic responses such as fight and flight in a feedback situation stem from a thought that can be shifted to something positive. It might also stem from a past experience that has nothing to do with the current situation. Be self-aware and reframe the thought, thereby shifting the energy of the situation and your response to it. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of an exceptional massage. With a few tools and some willingness to be client-centered and self-reflective, you can add value to the experience and cultivate a fearless exchange for both you and your client. Since 2000, Cindy Williams, LMT, has been actively involved in the massage profession as a practitioner, school administrator, instructor, curriculum developer, and mentor. She maintains a private practice as a massage and yoga instructor. Contact her at cynthialynn@

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