Turning the Tables

By Leslie Young
[Editor's Note]

Some of my friends are just trying massage (thanks holiday gift certificates) and, of course, they can’t wait to share their thoughts with me. They take me back to when I didn’t know about the psoas, let alone where it was, or how to spell it. A sheet was a sheet, lotion was lotion, and draping was related to windows. Just about the time I’m tempted to roll my eyes over these newbies’ impressions, they say something really insightful and help refresh and deepen my appreciation for the work.

When’s the last time you had clients who were new to massage? Did you know they were uninitiated when they came in? Did you take a few preliminary minutes to ask about their thoughts and answer their questions? Did you ask them for feedback when the session was finished and give them the space to answer you honestly? When you asked, did you really listen to them, hearing not only their words, but deciphering their body language as well? We human beings cherish our comfort zones. It’s difficult for people to approach someone knowledgeable and show their vulnerability, let alone someone who’s adept at touching naked bodies.

If this back-to-square-one approach interests you, try taking this exercise in perspective one step further. When’s the last time you had bodywork from someone you didn’t know? How interesting would it be to be anonymous in the process and see what you can and can’t learn from another therapist? And when’s the last time you tried a new offering in the profession? (There are more than 250 recognized modalities.) Consider experiencing a couple of them in the spirit of opening yourself to something new, not as a potential student or as a competitor.

I know it’s nearly impossible to turn off our personal filters. Our past shadows us, but taking a newcomer’s perspective may help you improve and remind you how important the little things are: a personal welcome to your clients, window coverings that actually cover the windows for naked clientele, a perfectly dressed table, tailored music, and just enough communication within the session to know you’re doing your best by the body in front of you.

Don’t be afraid to turn the tables on yourself.

The vantage point may surprise you.


Leslie A. Young, Editor in Chief