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May 9, 2008

Keeping Contact With The Client

In massage school, we were taught that during a massage we are not to break contact with the client. Whether you are putting more oil in your hand or walking around the table to access the other side of the body, you do not take your hands off of the client.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, during a relaxation massage, continuity of contact does not disrupt the relaxation process. Too much off again/on again body contact is disturbing to a person on the table who may be in an altered state. Second, as long as your hands are in contact with the client, they know where you are. This gets into the issue of trust, which, when your client knows where your hands are, facilitates relaxation.

This also brings up the issue of secondary contact. If you are working and area that is too tight to facilitate the use of both hands, or you are doing compression work with an elbow, where is the other hand? As far as your client is concerned, that second hand may be floating out in space, or worse, getting ready to land somewhere that it is not permitted! For that reason, I always place my free hand on the client, usually the shoulder, if possible. I've actually had feedback from two separate clients that firm but gentle secondary contact with the free hand was actually comforting to them.

We covered the issue of maintaining client contact in PT school as well. However, the reasoning was more crucial to safety than in massage therapy. Of course, maintaining client contact in order to engender trust is the same for PTs. However, the population of people that PTs work with is much more dependent in most regards than the typical massage client. Balance problems, injuries that limit lying positions, and potentially paralyzed clients make them much more at risk for falling off the treatment table. For that reason, it is important to keep contact with the client, especially when not administering treatment.

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Posted by linda at May 9, 2008 7:17 PM

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