Recently an article came out on Facebook that went semi-viral in the massage circles that was titled “20 Secrets Massage Therapists know about your Body!” While the article had a few reasonable tidbits of valid information, for the most part it was packaged, or should I say, TWISTED into an article that will do nothing good for our profession. It could prevent first time clients from seeking massage therapy, and it supports stereotypes that are not serving our profession.
Additionally, it has proven to provide some form of validation to some massage therapists who are making false and unethical claims, and/or support working out of scope. I want to be clear to state that I don’t blame those who contributed to the article for the end result.
The article is not so much the problem itself, but how many in the massage therapist community have responded to it. The article has been shared between thousands of massage therapists accompanied by dozens of comments that I find truly shocking. Comments like “yep, I’m psychic”, “well don’t let this scare you we are only trying to help. We know even more if we are psychic which many of us are” and “My clients usually get readings when they come to visit me”, and many more disturbing comments like this.
For the few very confused Massage Therapists, Listen up! You do not have magical special powers. Hopefully, you DO have a solid education, knowledge, and experience that would lead you to being able to professionally assess that your clients have certain conditions or have had certain life experiences, but you are no more psychic or magical than any other person on this planet. If you FEEL things it is simply because you are a MASSAGE THERAPIST, and your job is to touch a person for an hour or more in a focused and therapeutic way. You would have to be completely disassociated from your body not to FEEL things, and connect the dots with your knowledge and experience. Of course there will be indicators that your clients might need another pillow, or have had children, or are stressed out. DUH! It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out someone’s bra is too tight if they present with strap marks around their torso and have shallow breathing.
For those massage therapists who think you have some magic or extra special abilities with your clients I would highly recommend that you get your ego in check right away because that approach is dangerous and will hurt people. You may have natural abilities with providing quality of touch and a heightened intuitive sense, but that does not mean you have special magical powers! I know a lot of people who are naturally gifted in the kitchen! I know many people who are naturally good with mechanical things! I know lots of people who are naturally great with kids… this does not mean they have special or magical powers or are better than anyone else.
For those massage therapists who are also providing psychic readings for their clients or are in anyway telling clients what is going on in their lives beyond structural kinesiology issues, musculoskeletal anatomical dysfunction issues, and simple self care advice you may be completely out of scope. That is, unless you have on your business card “psychic and massage therapist” and you have license to practice both diciplines, and your clients are there because they have consented to receiving the services of both of your practices. This goes the same for massage therapists who dabble with crystal healing, aromatherapy, herbology, astrology, homeopathy, nutrition etc.
As for anything in the spiritual realm, there are priests, clergy, shamans, etc. who are professionals in the field of spiritual guidance and counseling. For mental/emotional support there is an entire mental/emotional health care field who we should refer to when our work ends and our clients need assistance. It is in your scope if you are a trained professional. If it is out of your scope, don’t go there! Reading a couple Eckhart Tolle books does not count for being a spiritual professional, and your personal spiritual belief system is none of your clients’ business.
Your job is to provide professional massage therapy and bodywork. Your job is to listen, and be compassionate. Your job is to be empathetic. It is completely unethical to get your ego stroked by having blurry boundaries with your clients. Furthermore, if you approach your massage therapy clients with an agenda to heal them, chances are you are going to do harm because YOU have an agenda and a plan to fix them. That is their job, not yours. Mindfulness, respect, gratitude, and humility will serve you and your clients better than any power trip. Please reel it in folks.