Covid realities of being a Massage therapist

Working as a Massage therapist can be a lonely business – which is why NO HANDS Association members have the opportunity to connect once a week with their clinical questions. This week was a particularly rich conversation:


It’s OK to not be OK

Ups and downs are natural in life, but even more so at the moment. Which is why it’s vital to find a professional group (most likely online at the moment) where you can feel OK going, even on days when you’re feeling low. Suffering is hard – suffering alone even worse. Making sure you have your own professional support is vital to ensure you are able to continue to support your clients.

The reality of Clients’ responses

This week one practitioner experienced a regular client asking why there was no discount on the session price even though the time on the table was slightly less. Having spent a lot of time and energy coming up with a detailed proposal to limit and mitigate risk (including introducing pre-session Zoom calls and absorbing the extra time costs of cleaning and additional laundry) this client’s response felt a bit like a kick in the teeth! 

On the other end of the spectrum, the same practitioner had standing order clients who had kept their payments going through lockdown and weren’t expecting to “catch up” on their treatments. 

Walking the Professional Line

This wide spectrum of responses is almost certainly being replicated in clinics around the UK and is a reminder of the importance – and challenge! – of keeping these business transactions exactly that: businesslike. This is even harder for us because of the intimacy of the profound healing spaces you create in your treatment rooms. 

As we all adjust to this new world, having the resilience to take the “rough with the smooth” and still present a balanced and professional face to our clients is vital. At the end of the day, the most important aspect is that you feel OK: with what you’re offering clients, with your own safety, with your interactions with those clients. Including accepting some clients may push against, or even reject, what you’re offering. 

The need for resilience

The changes the whole world has adapted to in the past few months is phenomenal – and comes at a significant cost to resilience. There will always be highs and lows in life – resilience simply means that we can handle both of these extremes. We know NO HANDS touch is a major way people can nurture and rebuild their resilience – which makes what you’re each doing even more important. 

We had a beautiful metaphor for this shared with us during the call:

“It feels like living in a snow globe. Every time it settles, someone picks it up and starts shaking again.”


Getting “out of the way” of the treatment

We had a fascinating discussion about what as practitioners we notice – and what our clients notice. Whereas we may think that external noises will interfere too much, many clients are so deep in their treatment that the noise of building works in the next door property don’t even register compared to the sensory stimulation of the phenomenal Touch they’re receiving. There are ideal environmental conditions to aim for, but our work can be powerful even in the hustle and bustle of an exhibition hall.

Who’s the music for?

The “noise” of the Touch is another reason the music we play really is first and foremost for the practitioner. The music is primarily there to support the practitioner’s movement. Of course, a piece which makes the client vomit is best avoided! Some clients barely hear the music, for others the music has a big impact. Ensuring our clients understand they are in control of the treatment and can ask for music to be changed or switched off helps us keep safe and gives them the opportunity to “try something new” – knowing they have a “get out” clause.

Music for soothing. Music for Transformation

When Gerry first started out he was most excited by the drama of Transformational music – the “monk rock” , music by artists who aim to have a transformational impact like Tim Wheater. There is absolutely still a role for this kind of music, but as we move more into dealing with ambient trauma, it’s the gentler, soothing music that he’s getting really excited about. Music he might previously have named “dull and anodyne”! 

Music carries primal associations which can hit very somatically, without us cognitively knowing why we’re having a particular response. Mainstream or popular music is particularly tricky for this: it can stimulate memories of an entirely different time and place for clients and take them away from their treatment. Likewise “monk rock” can have strong associations with church – which can be positive or negative. 

Anchoring the Touch

The music we use anchors the experience of the Massage. This was beautifully demonstrated by one client who contacted her practitioner at the beginning of lockdown for details of music used during her treatment. The client then got some of these albums and she used the music to transport herself to the place she goes to when she has a massage. We’re giving our clients a real gift when we use music powerfully.

A diverse range of topics – and hopefully some useful food for thought too.

Comments ( 4 )

  • Beth

    Wow, sounds like a super connect call. So much to take from just reading about it.

  • Doerte Tetley

    Thank you for sharing this! I’m learning from the people, that have started already. Thank you so much

  • Miranda Davis

    It really sounds like a powerful connect call , I was sorry to.ha e missed it .high Hope’s for the next one now . Thank you for sharing

  • Tigger MacGregor

    Really great to hear how much value you’re getting from both the live calls when you join and some of the “headlines” when life means you can’t make the call itself.

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