Massage & Bodywork


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CLASSROOM TO CLIENT education You can learn a great deal receiving massage from other massage therapists and observing how they manage their practices. Checking out a variety of practitioners can be professionally educational on every level. For example, I've received many enjoyable massages, but I haven't received consistent, thorough intake processes. Often this process is too brief, even with an injury present. As a result, clients don't get what they need and practitioners aren't doing informed work. It's worth evaluating why an intake process is important and whether yours is on the mark. BE THOROUGH, NO MATTER WHAT Whether a client is an athlete, dad, soon-to-be mom, kid, or grandma, their bodies are responding and changing. People experience stresses and challenges—positive and negative. Doctors prescribe new medications. Diets change. Exercise routines ebb and flow. The more a therapist knows about a client's current state of health, the better they can serve the client. Many factors are involved in how a client is feeling. Following is a guide to ensure you are keeping up with clients' essential information and effectively supporting them, even in straightforward wellness massages. Is Your Health Intake on the Mark? By Cindy Williams THE INITIAL SESSION AND INTAKE FORM Contact Information The first step in filling out an intake form is gathering contact information. In addition to the client's name, address, phone number, and email address, be sure to get an emergency contact. You likely won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad you have it. A primary health-care provider's name and number is good to have for all clients, too, and is essential when working on someone with an illness or chronic condition. When health providers work together and share information (with consent, of course), the circle of care is enhanced. Current Health Information This section of the intake form is most effective when a body map is included. Visuals help clients better convey what they are feeling and sensing in their bodies. Using symbols, such as a circle around an area that sometimes hurts and an X on an area that is causing pain or distress, is simple and useful. The more complex the setback, the more specific your notating symbols should be. Have colored pencils on hand and ask clients to draw on the body map using their choice of colors and symbols. The results can be insightful. Providing an area for current and past medical conditions is also important; it helps you observe overall stress in the body—even if the injury was long ago. Old patterns create new patterns, so being aware of possible root causes can help unravel the discomfort. Medications Far too frequently, this section of the health intake is missed. When a client takes medication, a physiological process is altered. Massage may or may not interact negatively with the drug, but what if it can and the therapist doesn't know about it? Most core massage programs don't spend a significant amount of time teaching students about pharmaceutical interactions and massage therapy. It pays to do your research. One great resource is Jean M. Wible's Drug Handbook for Massage Therapists (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008). Include frequency and dosage information in your intake, because in cases such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease, the timing between the client's dose and your massage can make a difference; this is also the case with pain-relieving medications, which are all too commonly used.

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