The good we do as touch professionals.

There's been a recent shift for touch professionals to focus more on treating symptoms or looking for a solution to a presenting problem than focusing on the person we are with and our relationship with them. Why?


Pic: Volkan Olmez

Rebecca Barnett’s fabulous article in the December 2016 AMT journal revolves around an exit survey of ‘patients’ from a clinic. Rebecca poses many questions in her article with the overarching theme (to my mind) being the value we place on ourselves and the good we do as touch professionals.

We are far more empowered and valued than many of us have come to believe.

Rebecca Barnett.

Rebecca’s article is well worth reading for all in our profession whether members of the AMT or not. What leapt out at me was how we seem to (still) be fixated with bio-medicalising our clients. We tend to steer away from recognising and giving credence to the relationship we’ve initiated and wants to develop.

We are an industry who deserve a higher level of self esteem and community recognition.
We are mostly good people with big hearts and willing hands, simply trying to do good for and with others. Perhaps if we believed a little more in our own abilities, placed a higher value (worth) upon ourselves, we’d care less about what the establishment thinks we ‘should’ do to gain their approval.

Are we just trying too hard?
Needing to ‘fix’ everyone we touch because our traditional training colleges, our colleagues and the health funds believe we should? Constantly treating symptoms and ‘dis-ease’ and not the person in front of us and our relationship with them?

Who are we doing this for. Our client or ourselves?
As a practitioner, my greatest satisfaction comes from simply guiding and allowing my clients to unravel in their own time. I focus on our relationship and all else generally falls into place. My clients are granted permission and the space to do the work themselves. They mostly don’t know this is the case but it is. And it’s as simple as me not enforcing anything. Having no expectations of them. Simply allowing whatever needs to happen, happen – within ethical boundaries.

I have no desire to prove anything to those who allow me to touch them. The very fact they have allowed me to be with them in this way tells me the process has already started for them. And for some change happens almost instantly. For others, it can take a little while longer.

But it is their choice, not mine. There is no ‘massage 101’ when we are treating the person, because everyone and every body is so different to each other.

I can only facilitate change, not impose it.

Sure, I’m touching them, I’m massaging them.
I’m satisfying their desire for ‘feeling like something is happening’ (physically) during their massage time. However that is far removed from me forcing my agenda of ‘great therapy’ on them. And when an individual is enquired about and given the space to offload, many a time there’s been no touch required. All too often, my clients simply need time, space, attentive caring and a listening ear.

Less really is more.
Sometimes all it takes is warm, friendly touch. In effect, the less we do, the greater the benefits to the recipient. Especially when given in the workplace as we do with corporate massage. Try not to overthink it and you won’t overdo it.

It matters more to others how you are with them than what you do to them.

Pic: Tim Marshall

Lasting change can only happen in relationship.
Whether positive or negative change. With ourselves, with others and with our environment. Life is relationship.

Every fibre of our being is as a result of what has happened to and with us in relationship, from conception to where we all are right now. And the path to less pain, freedom of movement, space in the joints and length in our soft tissues is by providing a safe space for our clients to unburden. They can’t do it alone and it can’t be forced.

Let’s be brave and embrace (metaphorically) the person in front of us. Try to see them and not only their ‘condition’. There is a whole breathing, living, and loving person behind their words and presenting unease. I guarantee you, your work with your clients will feel less like .. work.

We affect others by how we are with them. And that affect then reaches further into their world – their families, their work life and their passions. Simply being with others is The Good We Do, first and foremost. It’s not rocket science, it’s being human.

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Leo Buscaglia PhD