Good Sessions Require Honesty

For the most interesting aspects of massage therapy for the therapist is the ongoing evolution of the general public to the idea of massage therapy. In the massage bodywork world it is spoken of almost like you are “dating” your clients. Buy this will mean that clients must get to know us before they ever need us to get a vibe for who we are as professionals in order to consider taking the lead in contacting us. Once the client takes a step to get to the point of contacting us we must then begin to build trust with a potential new client similar to someone getting to know you on a date.

And as many people know part of building a relationship is taking opportunities to earn each others trust. This is something that many professions have to deal with in the healthcare system some are more culturally accepted than others. The criminal element in almost every society has taken advantage of the massage therapy person profession in order to create a cultural code of prostitution. Massage therapy and bodywork has been perhaps one of its greatest victims. Criminals have created a culture in many areas of the world that make people body fall break even with professional massage therapist because of the sexual undertone they haven't planted in the culture. The element of honesty and building trust becomes all the more difficult in our profession so we are constantly looking for ways to build trust and to give people very clear messages that we are very willing to earn their trust for a legitimate healthcare reasons.

There's also a secondary aspect of honesty which is the honesty of doing good professional business that promotes the profession. There is definitely an aspect to some parts of the United States including Minnesota where the laws and regulations regarding the profession are lacking (actually necessary) because self regulation of the industry is very difficult. Simple regulations about the splitting or incentivizing pricing levels and even something as simple as medical record keeping our not yet standardized in Minnesota and several other locations around the United States. There must also be some honesty here as well regarding the marketability of massage therapy as it compares itself to the general marketplace. Mini massage businesses and spice is similar practices to other industries to capture control and disseminate customer information for marketing purposes this can be everything from returning your email addresses to send spam emails to making phone calls to those individuals who have not come in for regular appointments. These practices have gone a long ways towards making the industry look not only intermittent service also intimate and it's ability to market to you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or relentless in some cases. Private therapist like myself take a different approach as a matter fact is considered a marketing point not to contact customers in between appointments and less deemed necessary and not adding them to marking less which would flood their inboxes with spam or feel their mailboxes with crap.

I have taken the view that I treat people the way I would like to be treated and that means that my time and my information is valuable and so I try to practice at in my business as well. Being honest means providing an accurate and fair impression of yourself when people look at your marketing materials including your website. I try to make sure that the information I provide is fair or reasonable and honest if I was looking at that site for the first time or to any other marketing materials that have been given to me or that I was looking for. I also try and do that with pricing policies and appointments and policies as well how would I feel if the business confronted me with an unfair pricing system contract or agreement of which they did not earn my business they contracted my business. It has been my philosophy to offer a simple straightforward approach with many options available that not only show respect for the clients but also for their privacy.

I have talked to a number of consultants about my policies regarding private information and marketability avenues including collecting and using the personal information that is provided to me. I have seen in my years as a therapist that many people supply false information in order to prevent unwanted marketing materials. I can understand his concern if people are willing to take the first step to come in for an appointment or to at least speak with me I hope that they will dish and only provide me fair and honest information with the understanding that when I looked him in the eye and promised them at their information will never be used for marketing purposes that they believe me. Is necessary for me to be honest with the clients to tell them exactly what the information will be used for most often people find to be very simple and transparent and that is to keep them well and should I need to contact them for any reason reasonable.

So how can I earn the trust of someone who may not necessarily trust me upon their first contact with me in a way that is professional and ethical. I try and ask every client to be very honest with me to provide feedback throughout their session and even after their session so that I can perform a service better for them. There is a colloquialism here in Minnesota that really is not productive and that is to not be honest in order to not hurt someone's feelings. Even if they are just fed it to satisfied with their service and many times avoid confrontation simply by not being honest about their thoughts about their services. I believe it to be absolutely essential that people remember they are paying for a service for my qualified professional and in doing so their feedback honest feedback is absolutely necessary it would be no different than going to a medical doctor. 

I honestly believe in that regard burning someone's business comes from getting the honest feedback and then showing people your understanding and listen to them by doing what they are asking if it all possible. This is where it gets interesting in that new therapist think that they are to follow the body and what it wants and not to be concerned with the demands of the client prior to the start of the session in other words what they tell you about their concerns you ignore them and follow the body. This I believe is a tremendous mistake on the part of the therapists someone is paying for service if you need to stay in an area of the body longer or use a little bit different method than what you had previously discussed it as an opportunity to educate the client and let them make a decision there for building trust. Too often over the years I've been a therapist if I heard people say that they asked for focus in an area or a particular type of massage and that is not what they received and after hearing the description of what it was and what happen I can tell you that the therapist was inclined not to explain themselves not to educate and just to expect the clients to listen to them and trust them implicitly because they got on the table. Customer service 101 is to listen understand and take action and then I believe it is one of the greatest tools I have in order to make the best session possible.

I would consider this one of the most insightful entries I have ever made and faraway one of the most revealing about the industry itself. Whether it is your first session or your 500 your honesty matters and if you have someone it was a trained professional they should listen to you and if they don't call them out on it or go on another “date” with someone else because maybe you might find out that another professional therapist could be the right one for you.

PTSD and Bodywork

In participating in the Hands For Heroes program I have become more familiar with some of the issues of our active and retired military personal. These issues have covered everything from money to lighting in the room at the time of service. Today I wanted to share something that I was aware of and had some limited training in as a massage therapist and that is the treatment of those with diagnosed PTSD. For those of you that are not aware PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder consult primary information sources before reading on. The Veterans Affairs has a number of resources as well as private councilors in your area. 

As many of you have found out over time getting bodywork that it is a very personal service that is performed. It leaves you in a somewhat vulnerable state (undressed, with someone who is not a lover, family member, or trusted friend this can cause anxiety among other feelings. Yet we can take this idea even further if you consider the idea of personal space and/or modesty preferences. Year after year I look at the “State of the Industry Report” put out by a trade publication every year (this is common in many trade publications) and we find constantly the number one concern of why people are not getting bodywork is cost and number two is personal feelings about physical contact with the therapist. Oddly enough the idea of massage being a “socially perceived luxury” and therefore could be perceived by others and indicating a “waste” or “self centered” act also constantly ranks very high.

During my training as a massage therapist the school took the time (thoughtfully) to bring in experts in working with “special populations” (I hate the term but it is meant to denote the idea of not the majority of scheduled services). The general idea was how to be considerate of those who have suffered substantial medical problems, rape survivor, child abuse trauma, and other similar situations and still provide a place a dignity and trust between the therapist and the client. I would consider it some of the most valuable training I ever received because it does not teach the therapist to treat people with kid gloves but to empower people through trust building in the most shuttle of ways to ensure a great service.

So you might ask after all this crap in the last three paragraphs what am I getting at here? The answer is that even though I got the training and have practiced much of it during my years as a therapist is that my depth of understand of PTSD has improved a great deal thanks in no small part by the willingness of those living with PTSD trying bodywork on my table with me. I want to bring the idea to the table that done right PTSD can be treated (in concert with other medical professional) with bodywork to improve peoples lives. 

Bodywork and help those with PTSD practice socialization and relationship (professional) building skills needed to function in the civilian world. Sometimes massage therapist find that when you touch some areas of the body it can't give a person a emotional reaction with many people you tend to hear that there's a mind-body connection this would be proof of that idea. The idea being that has a bodyworker we can help the emotional states of people that only when they are relaxing on the table when we are working out physical injuries or concerns which they have a specific request for attention in that area. 

If you suffer with PTSD or you know someone that may be suggest a session of bodywork with a trained professional. Obviously this is no substitute for mental health professionals or for a medical doctors assessment but it can't be an avenue of treatment. This should be a reminder to us all that when individuals have been in trauma that the scars are long-lasting and that is ongoing treatment that is necessary we must then support them long-term. In many circumstances these people have chosen to go into harms way to protect the rest of us from the horse that life can offer and then our gratitude and respect and support is necessary not pitty or charity. One of the most important lessons I have learned in my life as a bodyworker is that when people are in pain Weather it be mental or physical that condition lessens the dignity in which they carry out their lives and we should do our best not to further deteriorate that dignity which they want so much to regain with health.