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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 91 essential skills | HEART OF BODYWORK The Needy Client Turn Their Focus to the Session By Laura Allen We sometimes fi nd ourselves with an emotionally needy client. They not only want a massage, but they also give the impression they want you to be their best friend, listen to their problems, counsel them, bring them a puppy, and serve them a large bowl of ice cream. You feel exhausted when the session is over. We all have days when we are needy; bad days when we are dealing with things that seem overwhelming. We've all been affected by the loss of a loved one, caregiving for a sick family member, financial problems, breakups, problems with our children, or something else that upsets our emotional equilibrium. Maybe the needy client is going through the same. Many times, we make it through life's hard times with sheer determination, resilience, and a positive attitude. So, what can you do to help a needy client without making them feel like you're agreeing to be their friend and savior? First, remind yourself (silently) that you are a professional massage therapist, and that this is a therapeutic relationship. You're here to help clients, not make friends. You can be compassionate without getting enrolled in their personal problems. You can listen to a needy client like you would listen to a happy client telling you their son just graduated from Harvard. While you would congratulate the happy client, you can say to the needy client, "I'm sorry that has happened to you. It's a hard thing to go through." Then turn the attention back to the session by getting the client to participate. It's easy to do that by saying, "I think it will help your sciatica for us to do some stretching and resistance on this leg," and then start doing it. If the client has to listen to you saying "resist" and then "let it relax," their attention will have to focus on the work at hand. Ask them to take deep breaths and slowly breathe out. Make them feel like they're part of the process instead of a passive recipient. Refrain from giving advice; that's not your job. If they ask what they should do about their problems, say (politely), "I'm not qualified to counsel you, and it's against my policies to give advice about the personal lives of clients. I keep a list of nearby and online counselors I refer to. I'd be glad to share that with you if you're interested." Maintain a professional demeanor; keep engaging the client to participate in the work and remember the session will end soon. If you rebook them, be sure to consistently maintain that same behavior every session. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fi fth edition, and numerous other books. Allen lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. TAKEAWAY: Instead of giving advice to clients about their personal lives, have them actively participate in the session to keep their focus on the work.

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