Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2011

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practitioner parables BY ROBERT CHUTE SESSION OR SEMINAR? Every massage should have a beginning and an end—no staccato moves, please. When I go for a massage, I'm impressed when the therapist pays attention to the problem areas I mentioned during the intake interview. Too often, clients are disappointed to find that the reasons they came for massage are left unaddressed. If we expect them to come back, we need to be able to tailor each treatment to their needs, and to do that we need to hear and listen to our clients. As therapists, is this a failure to hear what we're told, or are we sometimes in a rut? Are we grinding through the same massage for everyone, no matter what clients thought they came in for? Active listening is more than anxiously waiting for a turn to talk. Also pay attention to how much you talk. (If you're chatty, do you need to bolster your toolkit with a new continuing education course, alter your focus, or take some rejuvenating time off?) Clients need to be informed about their treatment, its potential side effects, and their bodywork alternatives. They want relaxation or treatment solutions. They rarely want to hear the theory. It's great if you're up on the latest research, but don't bury them under data. Some clients will ask further about your treatment rationale, but you don't have to tell them every physiological detail about effectively releasing a trigger point. Sometimes well-intentioned therapists, or therapists who lack confidence in their skills, talk too much with their mouths and not enough with their hands. I've heard about a practitioner who felt compelled Active listening is more than anxiously waiting for a turn to talk. to "get everybody on board" before he could begin treatment. You're supposed to get informed consent, but this was more like brainwashing. The clients were subjected to a long indoctrination campaign. The best pitch by a complementary health practitioner I ever saw was a simple class demonstration that blew everyone away. A fellow in the class had low-back pain. After examining the man's posture briefly, the teacher gave him three exercises. When the back-pain sufferer stood up, he stood up straight and pain-free. It was a big "wow," but the teacher resisted the impulse to blab on. In fact, he didn't say a word. He simply gestured in a way that said, "ta-da!" If your work is really effective, it doesn't require a lot of didactic physiological minutia (and don't use the word didactic either). If you talk too much, your clients' eyes glaze over. Just hit the big bullet points. Tell them what they need to know to help them understand why they want your hands on them. Then simply show them how it works by doing it. Contact Robert Chute at tune in to your practice at ABMPtv 127

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