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November 13, 2004

When You Don't See Eye To Eye

When you work with the public, you're going to come across people who have a different world view. Whether it be the war in Iraq, religion, who's running for local government, gay marriage, or general gossip, you may not always see eye to eye with your clients' point of view. Human interactions can be a minefield of issues, which is why in massage school they try to teach us not to talk too much in our massage sessions.

However, part of some peoples therapeutic process is to talk about stress-inducing issues with who they believe to be a neutral party. So how do we, as professionals, redirect conversations that rankle our own sensibilities or distract us from serving our clients with our best work?

There are several books on the market that help massage therapists deal with issues that arise in their massage practice:
The Educated Heart: Professional Guidelines for Massage Therapists, Bodyworkers and Movement Teachers by Nina McIntosh
The Ethics of Touch: The Hands-on Practitioner's Guide To Creating a Professional, Safe and Enduring Practice by Ph.D. Ben E. Benjamin and Cherie Sohnen-Moe
Ethics of Caring: Honoring the Web of Life in Our Professional Healing Relationships by Kylea Taylor, Jack Kornfield
The Psychology of the Body by Elliot Greene, Barbara Goodrich-Dunn

How do I handle situations where I feel my own issues are about to overwhelm the session? Breathe deep and focus on the task at hand. You are there to help the client. Find your compassionate core. Gently redirect the client's awareness to the moment at hand. Ask them about pressure, ask about the history of their pain or precipitating events, ask about areas of referred pain, compensation or related impact on their daily functioning. Explain what you think is happening with their body, give them an anatomy lesson, outline your plan of action. By doing this, you have refocused the session on them and why they are there to see you. This lets the client know that you care for them and this particular pain and helps prevent the session from venturing into dicey areas.

Posted by linda at November 13, 2004 11:33 AM

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