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28 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m a rc h /a p r i l 2 0 2 3 TECHNIQUE By Til Luchau KEY POINTS • There are simple ways to help clients be more engaged, interested, and involved. • Clients who know how to actively receive are great to work with and get even more out of their sessions. Are Your Clients Skilled Receivers? THE SOMATIC EDGE Without meaning to, therapists can reinforce this passivity by assuming their clients just want to lie there and "receive." As a practitioner, there are easy ways to gauge your client's willingness to participate and simple things you can do to help your clients actively get the most out of their work with you. Set the Tone First, set a participatory tone by talking with your clients before the work begins. This might be asking them what kind of session they're looking for, what areas they want to focus on, and any issues you should be aware of. This will help you tailor the work to their needs and sets a collaborative tone that makes sure they don't feel like they're supposed to lie there and keep quiet. Check In Often Second, keep communication open during the session and keep it body-based. In addition to asking about the pressure, model what it's like to be curious about sensation itself. Ask what your client notices in their body. Help clients refine their proprioception by asking about differences they might feel between one side and another, or about what's different before and after an area is worked. Directing clients' attention to sensation not only gives you relevant information you can use in your work, but also helps the client notice the changes happening as the session progresses. And in a fundamental but easily overlooked way, asking clients to feel their body lays the groundwork for knowing whether they like something. It takes skill to give a great massage or bodywork session. We don't always think about it this way, but it also takes skill to receive. Skilled receivers get immeasurably more out of their sessions, and clients who are good at receiving work are truly a joy to work on. Or more accurately, a joy to work with, since a key aspect of being a great receiver is being engaged in the experience rather than passively letting it happen. Like all skills, receiving is something that can be learned and refined. As a practitioner, are you doing your part to help your clients be skilled and engaged receivers? STEPS TO HELP OUR CLIENTS Helping our clients be more involved, interested, and connected as receivers isn't difficult, and it doesn't mean our clients have to work hard. Being actively engaged can be as simple as breathing, communicating, or moving. But our clients don't automatically know this. Many people assume they should be still, quiet, and passive during a session and, as a result, can end up letting the session happen to them rather than finding a way to take part. Helping clients be more engaged, interested, and involved doesn't have to be difficult— for the practitioner or the client.

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