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Thoughts after Massage Envy Sexual Assaults

The massage world has been shaken in the last week with the news of huge chain Massage Envy in USA that has had many of its therapists accused of sexual harassment. What makes it worse Massage Envy had been notified and didn’t take the complaints further! You can read more about it here. I feel so bad for the people who went expecting a massage and got taken advantage of, and then to report it, which must have taken courage and then not listened to. I really can’t find the words to express my sadness and anger.

This has left some therapists feeling worried about the future of massage. There has always been a worrying link between massage and sexual actions as I have spoken about before in previous blog –breaking the misunderstanding of massage therapy. When i wrote this I must admit I had the therapist in mind as the one who needed protecting. Now I am rethinking and making sure the client feels safe too.

Personally after the shock of so many therapist across such a big company I did feel a little uneasy and wondered how it would affect me and fellow therapists. After some thought I came to the conclusion that it makes no difference to me because I am a professional massage therapist and wouldn’t take advantage of a client. And hopefully you feel the same.

The majority of my business is through word of mouth so I know that my client has had a reference about me that I am professional and not going to take advantage of the situation.

Saying this I think we also need to be extra careful about how we treat our clients – especially new clients.

I think its worth looking at a few tips to be mindful of

1 – Be professional from the beginning – on making the appointment ask what they are hoping to get from the massage, let them know your style of massage and how you can help them. If they hear your professional it will put them at ease if they had felt uneasy. Make sure to ask if they have any questions about the appointment. Point them towards your policy that can be displayed on your website or send to them before the appointment. If you don’t have any check out BusyHives free forms here.

2 – When you meet, take time with consultation, don’t rush this, give yourself time. Make sure they feel like they have been listened to and make notes to remind yourself of what they said. For a first appointment with a new client it might be worth making the appointment a little longer to give time for this. If you need consultation forms you can find some here.

3 – Let them know that they can undress as much as feels comfortable for them. It is ok to remain fully clothed if they want. Some clients may not want to undress and that’s what puts them off a massage – reassure them that’s ok. We can work over clothes and maybe after a few sessions they may feel comfortable enough to get undressed – or not. It’s up to them.

4 – Make sure they know it is ok to talk. This is their massage and their time so if they want more pressure or less or want to avoid an area then it is ok to speak and let you know. It is all about designing the right massage for them. Give an example of touching feet – is that going to be ok? Some people don’t like their feet being touched and that’s ok so make sure they know that. Let them know they can say at any point during the massage to stop.

5 – Tell them the areas that you will cover in a massage – this will change from person to person. For me I don’t massage a whole body in one appointment (unless they book two hours) so depending on the area sometimes I feel the glutes may need work. Some clients gladly remove underwear and happily await the massage. But some look like a rabbit in headlights, this is when I assure them it is their choice. I explain how the glutes work and how massage can help them but can be done through underwear or through drapes or avoided altogether. Its their massage and their choice.

6 – Be spot on with draping! This is something BusyHive will cover (excuse the pun) at a later date. It is so important to make sure the client feels safe and covered apart from the area you are working on. Personally I use one drape but I do have towels on standby for certain areas to add extra protection and sometimes like on the chest for a woman its nice to have the extra weight to hold the drape in place and the client can feel more secure also.

7 – Think about adding to website or social media a list of what a client would expect from a session with you. This can be tailored to how you work so if they are coming to you or if you are mobile. This will give any potential clients an insight to how you work as we all work slightly differently.

Most important is to let clients know that the massage is all about them and they can stop or ask any time for changes. Some clients feel they can’t talk during a massage – yes you want them to relax in some cases but let them know if it feels wrong or uncomfortable or want changes then its ok to speak up. It is a safe environment. Lets keep it safe for therapist and client.

If you have anything to add or comments please let us know in the section below. Take care of yourself and your clients.

Is there anything you would like to see BusyHive cover in a blog or anyone you would like to hear from on a podcast – please get in touch, we love to hear from you hello@busyhive.co.uk