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February 19, 2007

To Hug Or Not To Hug

Does your massage therapist hug you? Therapists, do you hug your clients?

I generally don't hug my clients unless they want a hug. This way I'm not forcing myself on people who are not "touchy-feely," and accommodating to those who feel that something special has happened in the session and want to express that.

However, I've been thrown into a couple of situations where that hug made me uncomfortable. An elderly gentleman used to come to the natural health clinic where I worked at the beginning of my career. He would hug all the women there. He eventually began to get massages. At the end of one session when I was walking out the door, he propped up on his elbow and asked if he could have a hug. I obliged with the intention of hugging his neck and found myself dragged across the table to lay on top of him. I immediately extricated myself and left the room. Outside of the room in the lobby he said the hugs were better than the massage and I immediately told him that I would not be hugging any more. I lost that person as a client, but that was preferable to being put in a compromising position.

Since then, I have had clients who hug. One or two have expressed that the hug is just as nice as the massage and alarm bells go off in my head. And then the dance starts. How can I distract my client or put myself in a position where I don't hug them when they leave. I've decided that honesty is the best policy and that maybe I should tell them my story. This would give me an opportunity to enforce boundaries with clear intentions and would give the client the opportunity to be sensitive to my concerns.

see also: "This Coupon Good for One Free Hug," a previous post on this topic

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Posted by linda at February 19, 2007 11:21 AM

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