Earlier this week I saw an advert for a graduate “add on” Massage course, telling me that “[course topic] is an essential part of every Massage Therapists job.” Admittedly, my first response (I don’t take very well to being told what I should / shouldn’t do at the best of times) was fairly reactive – “No, it bloomin’ isn’t!” But after a few breaths and some reflection it got me thinking: well, if I don’t consider [X] essential, what *is* my definition of what I offer as a Massage therapist? How would I, as it were, describe what a treatment with me is like to the proverbial alien? And that, to me, is where it gets really interesting.
For starters, I’m a Touch Therapist – my job is to deliver safe, contractual therapeutic touch in a professional manner.
This may be touch through clothing, or on skin using a medium such as oil. You, as my client, may be lying on a Massage couch, sitting in a Massage chair, or even sitting in a normal chair opposite me. You remain in control of the touch throughout – if at any time you want it to stop, you just need to let me know. I won’t take offence or be upset: I want you to have the best experience you possibly can, and I believe that’s only possible by you being in control.
My job is to be an expert in the Touch I deliver – not a diagnostician, doctor or “fixer”. My philosophy is that by trusting the Touch, you and your body will take what it needs.
I believe the onslaught of consumerist advertising has created a sense within us that every problem has a “purchasable magic bullet” – that there is an expert out there who knows the one thing we need to do, or buy, or consume that will “fix” us. And as a service provider, there’s a pressure to be that expert, to take on the responsibility of solving clients’ issues.
I know there’s a pressure – I’ve succumbed to it myself in the past. But that ethos doesn’t sit right for me.
Pretty much every day I stumble across new research into Touch from a whole array of sources that shows beneficial impacts of Touch for everyone from neonates to alcoholics, and for conditions right across the mental and physical health spectrum. I’m fascinated and switched on to this research – and feel like I’m barely beginning to scratch the surface of what Touch can do. But I do know it’s the first sense to develop – and the last to go.
I also know I have seen people take incredible healing from as little as a few minutes of safe, contractual Touch – and that I can never predict what shifts a client will take from the Touch I deliver. I can, however, deliver the Touch requested to the best of my ability and delight in bearing witness to the shifts that your being takes from it, the unwinding and evolving. In your own way, at your own pace.
The Touch we agree on, and that I will deliver, can vary from deep to light, from fast to slow – and everything in between
But whatever the speed and depth agreed, the Touch will not be painful – and if it is, I need you to let me know! Touch can be the most soothing and pleasurable experiences on the planet – but can also be deeply unpleasant and traumatising. I may well pick up on microsignals from you during the treatment, but ultimately I’m not psychic (nor would I wish to be) and if the experience isn’t what you were expecting, or simply isn’t working for you, I need you to tell me – so we can get back on track. Much better a 2 minute “interruption” during the treatment to get back on track than 40 minutes of a treatment which really wasn’t what you wanted.
So that’s a stab at my own definition of what I, as a Massage Therapist, offer. And most importantly – if you want to know something, please do ask. Because good communication, in my book, lies at the heart of every effective interaction, therapeutic or otherwise.