Key concepts of massage psychology
We all know that the work of a massage therapist implies responsibility and commitment to professional ethics – that is why we all need to understand the basic aspects of the psychology of our activities. Nowadays, the lack of knowledge about massage ethics does not relieve anyone of responsibility to clients and colleagues. Understanding these concepts is very simple if they are fully and correctly presented.
We all know about our professional boundaries, but not everyone has heard of such phenomena as therapeutic relationships, differences in awareness, transference, countertransference, projection, repression and denial. These concepts are the cornerstone of the ethical decision-making process and the behavior of the massage therapist. In addition, these concepts are sure to come in handy in everyday life!
The main elements of a therapeutic relationship include: customer orientation, trusting relationships, time management in the process of interacting with a client, a clear definition of the roles of a client-massage therapist, differences in awareness and security.
Customer focus: the customer is always at the center of a therapeutic relationship. This means that each action of the massage therapist should be aimed at meeting the needs of the client, and not his own. Often problems begin when the massage therapist begins to do something on a whim, because it seems to him that this is necessary, and not because the goals and objectives of the session require this. This also means that the client must approve the treatment plan and has the right to make adjustments to it – for example, he may ask for a little weaker pressure, or work out some specific point, and so on. In relations of this kind, the client has the right to expect from the therapist that all his actions will be aimed at the benefit of the client. Only when all these conditions are met, the client will feel safe and understand that they hear him. In such relationships, the client acts as a partner for the massage therapist and is involved in the decision-making process.
Trust: massage therapists, like any doctor, should be able to build trust with clients. In such relationships, clients entrust themselves and their health to the therapist, relying on his knowledge, skills. In such conditions, an unspoken agreement is concluded between the client and the massage therapist: the client trusts you with his well-being, and you put his interests above your own. But, despite the importance of mutual trust, the responsibility for observing and maintaining professional boundaries lies with us, even if the client asks you to break them. If you deviate from the intended treatment plan, which is sometimes necessary for an individual approach to the client, trust and customer orientation should still remain your guiding stars. The relations between the massage therapist and the client and the decision-making process must be carefully monitored – sometimes they may interfere with what is contrary to the ethics of massage, for example, personal sympathy. It should be noted that due to differences in awareness in the field of medicine and health, we, massage therapists, must adhere to higher standards of behavior than, for example, entrepreneurs who enter into business relationships with clients – there, differences in awareness and volume of knowledge are not so pronounced .
Structuring time: the next element of a therapeutic relationship is limiting and structuring the time you spend with a client. The client comes to your session once a week (or after any other period of time), and he needs some therapy. During the session, only what has been previously agreed and planned should happen. In this interaction, each participant plays a role – the client came to the massage therapist to help him, and the massage therapist to help the client.
Differences in awareness: differences in the volume of knowledge determine any therapeutic relationship. They imply that a massage therapist (of course, a licensed specialist) knows a priori more about massage than his client (We are now talking about standard cases. Of course, I go to massage with other massage therapists myself, but I still adhere to all the principles described in this article )
Safety: The last key element of massage psychology is safety. The client has the right to expect that the massage therapist’s cabinet is an environment that is absolutely safe from an emotional and physical point of view in which the slightest possibility of any violence is excluded, be it emotional, sexual, and so on.