In a previous post, we talked about the physical requirements and strains a Thai Massage practitioner has to deal with, and in this article we take a look at the emotional and psychological side of the job.
Depending a bit on what kind of Thai Massage therapist you are, that is, rather wellness and relaxation oriented or perhaps working more with a therapeutic focus, various factors come into play. One of the first things we need to realize is that a client comes with a certain demand. Often there’s some kind of stress involved that needs to be alleviated or eased.
Even if a client visits you for a pure physical health issue, let’s say, low back pain or a knee problem, there’s always an emotional component to it. Some kind of dis-ease, dis-comfort, or suffering is attached to it and needs to be resolved.
Sure, to be honest, there’s not always a major stress factor or some kind of deep agony involved. At times someone visits you just for fun, out of curiosity, for entertainment, physical maintenance, or perhaps just for a bit of human contact and warmth, and the like.
In any case, more often than not, psychological i.e. emotional issues need to be taken into account, especially if we do profound therapeutic bodywork. Therapists need to show empathy, understanding, and give adequate support. It’s crucial for the client’s healing process. Clients need to know that we grasp their issue in its completeness — the physical, mental, intellectual, and emotional side. That gives trust and invites openness, and that’s an important prerequisite to be able to work effectively.
We also need to be prepared for clients who experience intense emotional or trauma release during a treatment session. In our fast-paced, performance-driven societies it’s not uncommon that a lot of stress is bound to physical tissue, our body, and work done to release blockages, tensions, tangles, and contractions may cause emotional outbursts of the client. A therapist needs to be able to handle such instances adequately.
On the other hand, keeping a certain objectivity and neutrality is key. It’s important that a therapist doesn’t get too deeply involved, say emotionally “attached” to the client’s issues. That not only will impair our perception, judgment, and actions, it can also make us ill, worried, stressed. And let’s be honest, who needs a stressed or imbalanced Thai Massage therapist?
Moreover, a therapist should always be aware that they’re not a professional psychologist or psychiatrist (unless by coincidence one actually is). It means that we need to know at what point we need to stop giving advice or guidance, and gently ask the client to perhaps seek appropriate (additional) help i.e. treatment.
Working daily with clients will always give a certain emotional strain and load, and a therapist needs to counterbalance that with proper self-care. If not, the burden can become unbearable at some point, and a burnout then awaits just around the corner.
The way to avoid accumulation of emotional strain will be different for each therapist. Maybe it’s good to do some specific exercises after each treatment or at the end of the working day. Maybe one can engage in certain exercises or a sports activity that can help unwind. Or maybe one should only work every other day. A therapist should find out what works best.
All by all, it’s of utmost significance that a Thai Massage therapist (or any other massage practitioner) is aware of the emotional aspects that come with the work — for both the client and for the therapist. Not addressing this appropriately will make the therapist’s work flat and less effective, and moreover, can make both client and practitioner ill.