I would venture to say that our relationships' quality and depth are directly correlated to the quality of our lives. I certainly find this to be true in my massage therapy practice. When I'm truly connecting with a client, I feel that relationship grow. It becomes deeper, stronger, and more long-lasting. Conversely, when I coexist with a client, I don't feel connected or effective in the therapy I provide.
When I first began my massage career, connecting with clients seemed easy and natural. I had to focus deeply during every session to remember what muscle I was working on or what I had been taught in school to do in a given situation. Professionally, as the years passed, my therapeutic skills grew, and I didn't need to think as much about "how" to release an area or reestablish flow. I just "knew." Personally, life had become more complex with motherhood and grown-up responsibilities. Although my skills had deepened, it seemed to be more difficult to maintain my intent during sessions.
Recognizing that a lack of intent would diminish my ability to nurture each client's needs, I actively foster relationships of meaning. I asked myself, "How do I deepen my relationships with clients instead of just maintaining them?" This is some of what I have found:
- Maintaining connection is a continuous and conscious practice that begins with a choice to do so. Before each session, I quietly say to my inner self "Grant me all of your power and attention so that I may focus on (client's name) needs."
- My community is essential to my success. Reading professional journals, magazines and research articles, as well as attending workshops, mixers and conventions with other healing arts practitioners helps me stay connected with the inner spirit and intention of the work we do.
- I need regular bodywork. This not only helps me with the little aches and pains that often come with the job, but also reminds me what it feels like to be a client. I can feel the difference between a therapy that is connected and one that is not - so can our clients.
- I cannot expect to grant others that which I cannot grant myself. Meditating, yoga and Pilates are some of the things I do to provide myself a safe space to process "life" and seem essential to my maintaining connectedness with self.
Please share your thoughts and any strategies that help you create meaningful relationships with the clients you work with.