By Gerry Pyves, NO HANDS Academy for Transformational Touch Therapy Founder & Creator
In the past, I’ve suggested that as therapists we ‘train’ our clients into the language and theories that we ourselves have studied. So, for example a Freudian Psychotherapist trains their clients to have ‘freudian dreams’ and Jungians train their clients to have ‘jungian dreams’. Likewise, many Massage therapists actually give a non-stop verbal commentary on what muscle is being released and what ‘good it will do’, as they work. From where I’m sitting, this is considerably beyond the scope of Massage practice, because it is actually hypnotherapy. Telling another human being what is happening in their body while they are in a semi-relaxed state and giving them suggestions is hypnotherapy without a contract. This lack of a hypnotherapy contract is an abuse of the client therapist relationship.
Only one person truly knows what the client is feeling in the treatment room, and it isn’t the therapist. If you want to be a psychic, go get a velvet tent and a crystal ball. Let your clients choose you because of this psychic ability – overtly. If you are a sports Massage therapist who is going to make your work effective by using such hypnotherapy, then you would perhaps need to advertise yourself as a “Sports Massage therapist and unqualified hypnotherapist” to be completely honest about what it is you actually do.
Alternatively and much simpler, just let your clients have the space to find their own words for what they are feeling. When I ask my clients to walk after their Massage treatments, it is to give them time to find their own words for this new state they find themselves in. They are integrating their new body structure, energy, feeling, mind and spirit through the walk. It is essential that I ‘bite my tongue’ and let them explore this new state of being for themselves.
What if they say “nope, don’t feel any different”? If there is not a convenient 8th floor window to throw yourself out of, you might just want to stay around and learn something. These ‘failures’ are sometimes the most powerful teachings of them all. This is where the client and I discover just what went wrong. “What do you think would have made the session more effective for you?” is a pretty good question. We may not want to hear the answer, however.
In my experience, the ‘experts’ are little more than spoilt children who do not want to hear the grown up reality of their bad behaviour. “Well, it would have helped the Massage session if you had not kept stopping to answer the phone and talk to your other clients” or “it would have helped the session if you used nicer oil” or “it would have helped if the room had been warmer”. The learning possibilities are infinite, if we dare to ask our clients what did NOT work for them.
You will not learn much about either Massage or Psychotherapy from training courses. Training courses are really only places that prepare you to begin the actual job of therapy. You will only learn about the therapy itself from actual clients. To do this, you need to really listen to them and you need to really want to know about them. Of course, if you want to justify the years of training and thousands of pounds you have spent learning ‘this’ or ‘that’ approach, then you may prefer to convince them and yourself that they really do ‘fit’ into this or that theory. That is not listening to, or learning from, the client. It is self justification by putting clients into our preconceived boxes.
Only very rarely does a client actually fit into the theoretical ‘box’ our training has given us. In my own experience, each individual client has enabled me to ‘stretch’ this box so it encompasses their unique and very particular reality. The ‘box’ I work from now is unrecognisable from that which I was trained in. It has a distortion and stretch mark for every client I have had the privilege to work with.
After a Massage this means wanting to learn all about them, not just their ‘physical’ state. In Psychotherapy sessions it means hearing all that they say and want, regardless of whether or not it fits into our theories. We are not dealing with just the mind, but with the whole of each person we work with – Physical, Emotional, Energetic, Mental and Spiritual (PEEMS). We should pay special attention when the client does not fit into our theories, especially if it includes their need for touch. We need to know about them as unique human beings about whom the right book may not have yet even been written, or the right therapy yet devised.
For Massage therapists it means we are not just ‘bodyworkers’. The actual truth is that the only place to find ‘bodies’ without energy, emotion, mind and spirit is in the morgue or in bodywork text books. What we are, all of us, are ‘living human being workers’. When Psychotherapy clients sense that you are really seeing all of them and listening to all that they say and noticing their complete P.E.E.M.S, they not only leave the session feeling truly unique and truly supported, they generally get exactly what they came for. They will rush into whatever space you provide for them, including their body and their basic human desire to touch. Watch children. They touch. At least they do this until the adults teach them not to. It is natural.
One of the great advantages of giving our Massage clients the chance to define their own reality in their own words, is the way they walk out of the treatment room extremely clear about the value of coming for Massage. When they meet their friend for coffee after the treatment and she asks “what have you been doing?” the client replies: “I have just had a Massage treatment and I feel six inches taller, so much lighter and ready to take on the world.” No mention of the iliopsoas or their myofascia. When you learn to speak client, what you hear are words that actually mean something for our lives. For this client it was simply “walking tall in the world again”. Not a bad outcome for something that only deals in muscle and bone.
What else just happened here? You probably just got yourself a new referral, is what happened. Just from learning how to speak ‘client’ by simply hearing their words and understanding their meaning for each of those words. After the client has identified just what they have taken from your touch, they go out and repeat that to their friends, because you gave them time to know exactly what massage did for them. You know. They know. The secret is out.