For the last 7 years I have been a practicing Licensed Massage Therapist. I’ve worked at a Spa, 2 Chiropractor’s offices, and now I do freelance in-home massage. Along the way I learned so much more than my instructor ever could have taught me. I still utilize these 5 lessons in my everyday life.
- Do what you love and find balance: I get pumped before I head to a massage session; I used to dread going to work at the Spa. Now days I don’t have clients back to back 5 days a week, so I really look forward to getting to work. I get to give each client time and attention without rushing because I know there’s someone in the waiting room, and the clients are in their own home so they are more relaxed and don’t feel rush. The best part of working now is I don’t stare at the clock and stress about time. I get to enjoy the massage, which I have found to be just a therapeutic for me as it is for the client.
- Know your worth: It took me years to raise my prices. They were ridiculously low because I wanted more and more clients and I wanted to keep them happy. However, as the years went by I gained knowledge and experience that justified a rate hike, so I increased them. To my surprise and relief I did not lose any clients.
- Listen: The most powerful thing you can do for someone is just listen to them. When I started massaging I noticed that people had a tendency to treat their massage session like a psychotherapy session. Clients would share intimate things with me because massage therapy allows for emotional release and sometimes it comes out verbally. I had to learn that it was NOT my job to give advice, spectate, repeat, or judge anything my clients say. There is an exception of course. If someone is going to or has caused harm to themselves or others there is an obligation to break confidentiality, but these incidents were rare. I learned to become a sponge. Soak up everything my client had to say, and when I left the room shake it all out and go on with my life. This way neither of us were carrying around the burden anymore.
- Know your scope of practice: While educating clients about health and wellness is part of my job, I have never diagnosed a client or told them how to “fix” whatever ails them. Massage therapy alleviates pain and helps the body take better care of itself in many ways, but we are NOT doctors and we do not have cures. I watched too many therapist cross lines with clients and treat them like patients. With any job, you need to know and respect your boundaries.
- Trust your path: Things change and that’s okay. After my wrist surgery in 2015 I knew I could not go back to massaging full time. The career that I had loved had turned on me and consumed my life. I knew I could not stopping massaging altogether though because it’s a part of me and it always will be. Instead I made realistic adjustments to my schedule and went back to school full time to study social work. The change was scary but so worth it. I’m excited about becoming a Social Worker because I’ll still be helping people, just in a different form that is easier on my body.