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May 16, 2007

When A Session Doesn't Go Well

She had the idea that it would make a great Mother's Day gift--buy her Mom a massage and get one for herself. She was so excited to be getting a massage for the first time. Yet once she got on the table, she couldn't relax. Anything with the slightest pressure made her flinch or wince. She was clearly not enjoying her massage.

I asked her if massage was what she expected it to be like and she said "no." When I asked her about what she did expect, I got an "I don't know." I filled in the blanks from there. I can only assume that she wanted an hour of somebody lightly rubbing oil on her body. She may have come in expecting big, fluffy bath robes, candles and scented massage oils. My facility is calm and quiet, but it is not a spa.

So, why can't I shake my sense of disappointment in letting this client down? I usually love getting new clients and busting my tail making their first massage the gold standard that they compare all of their subsequent massages to. Is my ego so tied to my work that any disapproval is crushing? I know that not every massage therapist is a good fit for the client. And, I also know that not everyone is looking for "therapy" when they come through my door, so I adjust my work accordingly. And yet, this still didn't please my client. My fear is that I ruined massage for her and at the same time failed the entire industry.

So, what really went wrong? When I think back, I remember her mother filling out her intake form for her because she was arriving later. That was fine except that she also filled in a portion which has questions such as "what do you hope to accomplish with today's massage?": strike one. Her mother was hoping massage would help the woman's scoliosis: strike two. I took her mother's assessment of her needs at face value and only followed-up with questions about her scoliosis: strike three. This is why we call our massage clinic a practice, we learn through the experience of our mistakes. I hope this woman, and whoever else has been let down by massage, continues the search for the massage they feel is most appropriate for them.

Posted by linda at May 16, 2007 7:04 AM

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