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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 "Superior" Massage Therapist Focus Belongs on the Client By Laura Allen There are those who think they are superior massage therapists—better than everyone else in the field. I once heard a therapist say they would never refer out to anyone "because no one is as good as I am." During the pandemic, when the governor of North Carolina shut down our massage practices, I saw another therapist state online that their clients would be hospitalized—or even go as far as to harm themselves—if they couldn't see them. It must be a terrible burden to be so great; all that conceit you're carrying around must get heavy. While you may have been practicing for 30 years and are perhaps more technically skilled than someone who has been practicing for less, that does not make you a superior therapist. A superior therapist is one who is 100 percent ethical and entirely client-centered; one who can maintain their boundaries while protecting the client's boundaries. The superior therapist does a thorough intake and actually listens to what the client says, reading body language and identifying when the client is uncomfortable. This therapist presents themselves professionally and respects client requests for a lighter touch or to avoid certain areas. They practice careful draping, keep clean and sanitary offices, and start appointments on time. The superior therapist honors confidentiality and never violates the client in any way, doesn't try to diagnose the client, doesn't talk about personal problems, and understands the right amount of vocalization the client prefers. This therapist doesn't claim they can "fix" every client; if you make that claim and the client doesn't feel any better soon after, that won't leave a good impression. When a client is displeased with you, they may not tell you directly . . . but they will tell their friends. They will relay their experiences, whether you talked about your divorce the entire time they were on the table or kept applying deep pressure when they asked you not to. They won't come back and they might even leave a negative review online or post about their bad experience on social media. Client-centeredness and technical expertise are two different things. Most consumers of massage prefer a therapist who listens to them and addresses their concerns, instead of acting like an indisputable authority. That's not client-centered in any way. 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 fifth edition, and numerous other books. Allen lives in the mountains of western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. TAKEAWAY: A truly superior therapist is client-centered and not caught up in their own ego.

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