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Teaching massage? Its more than just the strokes.

For a few years now I have been consulting with clinics and I’ve noticed something really disturbing. Students are being taught how to do massage but not how to be a massage therapist. 

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How do you handle problems in the clinic or at school? How bad does it have to get before you say something?

What do I mean by that? Recently a frustrated clinic owner came to me asking I speak to one of her therapists. It was the third time she heard a client saying that a certain therapist had talked a lot during their session. Yikes!

Have you ever had this happen to you? First time something negative happens, we rationalize, ‘Oh it was just an off day.’ Second time we feel like we should really say something, but we don’t. The third time, it’s official; this is a problem. Universe is telling us to gently do our part to assist this person in their life lesson. Damn.

No worries, I’ve handled  dozens of ‘Chatty Cathys’ over the years. This is a simple fix – or so I thought. The appointed day and time comes for us to meet. After a little chit chat, I ask, speaking slowly, “Tell me [name] what does being grounded mean to you?” Without missing a beat she said, “Oh I know what being grounded means. Never plug anything into an outlet unless its grounded.” I must have been silent an uncomfortable amount of time because she nervously explained, “I learned that in Shop Class in high school.”

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What does it mean to you to be grounded?

I’m stunned. Please pardon my language, but WTF? How did this girl get through massage school without knowing what it means to be grounded? I’m going thru a storm of emotions. I’m pissed and want to ask, Where did you go to school? But I hold my tongue. I’m confused at her answer. I’m sad that she has been working for 6 months in a high volume clinic obviously without some of the essential tools she needs to be safe, energetically strong and effective. Finally I find my way to being compassionate. I nod and simply say, “That’s one definition. Let’s talk about another one that can help you in your sessions.”

Getting grounded before a session means different things to different people. Some therapists pause at the door of the treatment room for 5-10 seconds to let go of any distractions. Some quietly set the intention to show up for this client, trusting they will deliver exactly what this clients needs in the here and now. Some have rituals like smudging or praying. Most of us use a little of all of this.

Outside of work, how do you get grounded?

Outside of work, how do you get grounded?

The benefit of getting grounded is that we leave our stuff at the door. We are able to be present in the moment. We show up mentally prepared to be no where else, but in this room. Getting grounded serves the massage therapist too. For the next hour or so, we detach from any of our own drama or worries.

I believe it is up to those of us who have been taught the body-mind-spirit principles of massage to share that wisdom with those who didn’t get it.  If you choose to share, please do so with kindness. Remember there was a time in your life where you didn’t know what you didn’t know too.


1 Comment

  1. Melinda Ashford says:

    This information is helpful. Thank you.

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