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August 2, 2007

Therapists Need A Support Community

I certainly don't mean to imply by my posts this week that I know everything there is to know about customer interactions. Quite the contrary, in fact. I'm posting these topics because many of them are issues I have struggled with. I am hoping that others can learn from my mistakes and improve their own practice without having these experiences themselves.

In fact, I continue to struggle with being manipulated into doing things I don't want to do. Strong personalities that make statements about what I will or won't do for them tend to catch me off guard. I find myself agreeing to things and then kicking myself only moments later or finding an appropriate reaction after they have left my office. The problem is I'm just not quick with an appropriate comeback when I've been blindsided. Some examples of the manipulations I've agreed to both past and current are: 1) letting a client set their own price; 2) holding an appointment time for a client who isn't certain they can make it; 3) discovering half way through a massage that a client doesn't have the money to pay me for the session; 4) agreeing to call a client the next day to see if they can fill an appointment; 5) booking an appointment for a client who hasn't paid me for a previous visit.

As one of my peers has told me, I'm too nice. This is one of the reasons I developed a sheet of rules about how I run my office. I call it my "office protocols." And since I am still not comfortable telling people that they will have to pay for a missed appointment, I give a sheet of my office protocols to all my new clients. It is easier for me to pull out a piece of paper and point to a line that says "you will have to pay for missed appointments," than to give the client the bad news verbally. And though I'm well within my rights to do so, it is counter to the relaxation experience to be told to "pay up."

If a therapist begins to recognize a pattern in the way people manipulate them, it would be a good idea for them to get a mentor or go to AMTA or AMBP chapter meetings. Forming a massage therapist support group for brainstorming ideas on how to break the cycle may be a good place to tackle these topics. If state chapter meetings are too far away or a therapists lives in a remote area with few therapists, they may need to see a professional counselor.

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Posted by linda at August 2, 2007 9:30 PM

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