In almost a century as a registered health profession, massage therapy has evolved into a well-respected career with over 80 different specialties, including reflexology, Swedish massage, and deep tissue massage. Given the rising average age of the population and the increased number of retirements, it is an occupation that has been growing more than any other. According to Massage Therapy Ontario, it will grow by 19 per cent between 2009 and 2019 throughout Canada and southeastern Ontario.
With this increased demand and opportunity, it is no surprise that many people are looking to start their career in massage therapy. If you’re thinking about starting your training or taking courses in this field, it’s important that you understand how to create healthy, respectful relationships with your clients. Read on for a few tips on how to do that.
One of the purposes of massage therapy is to reduce the everyday stresses of the client. You can help alleviate muscle pain or discomfort, however, the only way to do this is to make sure that the client experiences an emotional release—where stress leaves the body and mind—while you treat the client. To do this, it’s essential that the focus of the session never wavers or switches to you. As you’ll learn in massage therapy courses, it’s all about them. Your worries, anxieties, personal struggles, and anything else that is on your mind should be left at the door when you begin their treatment. Otherwise, you run the risk of engaging in counter-transference; a process in which your client becomes your therapist or confidante, and they leave having received none of the treatments or benefits that they were expecting because the session wasn’t focused on them.
A massage is a very relaxing, peaceful affair. The atmosphere should follow suit, which doesn’t necessarily mean that there must be silence during the massage—only that the client should be the one to engage in conversation if at all. Some clients may be uncomfortable with total silence, and others may want to talk about their stresses as you work on them. In this case, you should be an active listener, letting them vent and move past the issues that are troubling them. However, it is also important that your clients know it’s okay to be silent or just listen to music. The atmosphere should be peaceful and massage therapists, once they complete their training, understand how to create this beneficial environment.
As with any profession that involves physical treatment of any kind, there are boundaries that must be respected. Students who graduate from a massage therapy program have received hands-on training and have a deep understanding of this. They also know how to pick up on both verbal and non-verbal cues. For example, there is an emotional boundary that exists between client and practitioner that should not be crossed. A client who pushes for personal information about the therapist is crossing the line. This is what massage therapists refer to as an emotional boundary; there are also other boundaries, like physical, social, and professional, that always need to be considered.
Are you interesting in receiving massage therapy training?
Visit the Canadian College of Health, Science, and Technology for more information or to speak with an advisor!