Being Able to Say "No"

For massage therapists especially, one very difficult challenge seems to be the ability to say “no” to a given situation if we need to. We are such giving people that it can be extremely difficult for us to tell anyone that we cannot accommodate their request. Many of us would almost rather not practice than have to do that, but the unfortunate reality is that we have to draw boundaries in and around various parts of our lives and keep those boundaries intact. Otherwise, we risk overextending ourselves and burning out. There are many situations that may call for a therapist to say “no.” The following are some common potential situations therapists may run into as well as ways to help therapists find out if they are in such situations and how best to say “no” while still being professional.

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Handling Challenging Situations and Misunderstandings as a Massage Therapist – Part 2

Last time, I talked about an interesting case of a significant misunderstanding that had occurred in my massage room and that forced me to amicably part ways with the client, due to different cultural views. In this post, I’ll cover a similar situation that happened, but with communication outside the massage studio being the primary cause of the issue rather than anything that happened in the massage room itself.

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Handling Challenging Situations & Misunderstandings as a Massage Therapist -- Part 1

I once had an unusual case occur in my treatment room. A very nice professional gentleman, whom I will refer to as R for this post, had called me one evening after I had finished up my last client, said that his former therapist had moved away and that he was looking for a new one, and asked if I had availability for one more client. After I told him that I could accommodate him, he informed me that he was a cyclist and proceeded to give me very specific details for what he liked in a massage – preferences accumulated over seventeen or eighteen years of receiving professional work from other licensed therapists. Fortunately for me, I was able to fulfill most of his requests, as they were already part of my usual technique or not too far from it. We agreed to start with a 30-minute session to see if he was satisfied with my work, and we would go from there if he wanted more time.

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The Vocabulary of Massage Therapy

When I had to “fire” my first client, it was due to a unique set of circumstances, largely centered around the language used in text communications with me. He spoke of feeling the “love through my touch” and that he wanted me to “engulf and envelope” him with my “soft and sweet sexy hands.” To his credit, he had been a complete gentleman while in his very first session, and may, in fact, have meant nothing but honest and sincere, if awkward, compliments by the words. But the fact that I had been made uncomfortable, even if unintentionally, by that and other text messages he sent, was enough to cause me to refuse to rebook him. The brand new and still fragile relationship of trust and safety between us had been broken.

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