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A Massage Therapist’s Best Teacher is the Client

amelia island massagesMeeting client needs and exceeding expectations is a perpetual desire of our massage therapy team and a big part of the equation is listening to the client. Clients can be great teachers!

One of the most powerful lessons that I have learned in 13 years of my very rewarding career is that we, as professional bodywork practitioners, should not strive to provide “a massage” or “my massage,” but the client’s massage.

I often tell new therapists that an important part of the school of massage therapy begins after graduation, in the massage establishment, with the client. It is not just the client’s written input and obvious body mechanics, but also their verbal input and feedback that teaches us.

Clients have a way of instilling confidence in newly graduated therapists and often share information that can be helpful to both new and seasoned therapists who desire to grow in the business of therapeutic massage and bodywork. There is always something new and beneficial to learn. The sky is the limit!

Before I became a licensed massage therapist, I worked for a well respected cardiologist. I will never forget the day he came out of a patient’s exam room, stood in the middle of the hallway, and muttered to himself: “Listen to your patients.” To this day I admire him for that and it was a good lesson for me as a wife, mother, medical laboratory technologist, and future massage therapist. I remember thinking many times since then that if I keep my mouth shut and my ears open, I might learn something.

Sometimes we therapists (and other medical professionals) can get caught up in what we know rather than what we don’t know. First and foremost, we will always practice conservatively with regard to client safety (do no harm) and remain within the scope of our practice. In addition, we will always strive to increase our knowledge by taking a step back, then a step forward to expand our horizons by truly listening and then following through to meet the needs (kneads) (sorry, I had to do that…) of our clientele. It’s not my massage, it’s the client’s massage.

One of our greatest joys in the practice of massage therapy is the camaraderie established through a professional and caring rapport with our clients. We are blessed to be able to do this work and look forward to listening to our next great teacher.

Nancy C. Shores

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