Many of us have had glowing reviews from clients, telling us that we’ve just given them the best massage of their life. And yet, even being the superhero healers we are, we still occasionally have those clients who end up complaining or telling others that we just didn’t quite get the job done for them. I think this results from common misconceptions that some clients have about massage:
- Assuming it’s one size fits all: Newer clients commonly think that we massage therapists have a set “routine,” applying it indiscriminately to everybody. Of course, we know that we’re far more likely to create a unique massage plan for the individual client based on what they’re presenting with that day.
- Mistaking personal preference for quality: If a client doesn’t like what you did, it can be easy for them to assume that it’s because you’re “bad” at massage, when really it’s the choice of modalities or techniques you used and your communication about them. Myofascial release is going to feel great to one person and terrible to another. Some people love the broad, sweeping experience of having forearms stretch their back, while others prefer the specific feeling of having someone using their fingers. Techniques being experienced differently by each client results in a difference in how they react to our work.
- Judging the work based on the therapist’s appearance: Some clients mistakenly believe that a petite female therapist is not going to have enough strength to really work the muscles, or conversely, that massage from a big burly male therapist is going to be too strong. In reality, it has a lot more to do with technique than physique. I’ve had plenty of sessions from men that were focused on creating a relaxing, gentle experience with soothing ambiance.
So, what can you do about this? The antidote to all these misconceptions is the same: communication—even before the session begins.
Simple clear communication is the best approach to get ahead of the misconceptions and empower clients. Consider explaining to clients at the beginning of the session that:
- Every body is unique
- Your work is adaptive to them
- You invite them to speak up if they don’t enjoy a technique or want more/less pressure
- You welcome them to speak up if they enjoy a specific technique or want to stay in an area
Creating a space for clear open communication is the cornerstone of ensuring that clients feel heard and get the best massage for their body.