When considering how you might better help your clients extend the benefits of massage through the use of self-care practices they can do on their own, clear communication and investment on the client’s part are key. Following are some great tips aimed to help you better help your clients:
“The communications skills necessary for teaching self-care to clients are the same as those the massage therapist needs during a session,” explains Kathy Paholsky, a massage therapist and educator from the Waller Wellness Center in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “It’s about sharing information in a manner that is understandable and useful for all involved.”
Authenticity: “Be real and honest in your dealings with others, and know what you are talking about,” Paholsky says. “Your body language will reflect the truth.”
Rapport: “It is the role of the massage therapist to develop and maintain rapport with the client,”Paholsky notes. “Respect and courtesy are reflected in what we say and how we say it.” Simple measures like maintaining eye contact can go a long way to establish respect and develop rapport with a client.
Clarity: “Speak clearly, concisely and calmly when making statements or asking questions,”Paholsky advises. Clear communication can help you avoid unwanted misunderstandings.
The most effective instructions consider steps, time, expectations, problems, goal and intent. When demonstrating new techniques, Paholskyadvises trying to incorporate as many different learning styles as possible by following a specific order:
- First, have your client watch you perform the self-care practice. This is most beneficial for visual learners. “Don’t talk and show at the same time with something new,” recommendsPaholsky.
- “Ask the client to demonstrate the self-care activity and [have] them explain their understanding of the connection to short- and long-term goals,” Paholsky says next. This will appeal to kinesthetic learners the most, but will also help all your clients better understand how the activity relates to their health and wellness.
- Then, have your client explain the process. Doing this will be most beneficial for verbal learners, but also allows you to assess your client’s understanding of the self-care activity.
- Finally, have the client watch you again with their hands on your shoulders. This practice helps tactile learners to mentally reinforce the process.
Remember that when designing a self-care plan, you should consider your client’s individual needs. Think about what they liked most or found most beneficial during the massage. Just as you would individualize a client’s regular massage session, so too you must consider individual needs and preferences when discussing their self-care plan.
Want more great self-care tips for your clients? Read the full article in AMTA's Massage Therapy Journal.
Be aware of scope of practice. When providing your clients with self-care practices, you need ot make sure you're staying within your scope of practice. Before making any recommendations, check with your state's massage therapy regulatory authority to ensure they are within the state's defined scope and standards of practice for massage therapy.