We make assumptions all of the time. My clients often assume I will just pick oils at random and need to hear that the oils I choose are based on the medical and emotional history they give me.

I also make assumptions but try and hold them lightly. Recently with a booking made by email, I assumed based on the forename that the client would be quite a bit younger than myself and not just two years as it turned out. I had also thought I would recognise the client as I had seen activity through a mutual friend of facebook. Well, I had recognised the sender of the email but she had booked for her mum but not said anywhere in the email that she was booking an appointment for someone else!

I have learned to hold my assumptions lightly and be ready to drop them quickly. My massage training taught me to massage between the breasts though not the breasts themselves. I assume that many women will not want this from a male practitioner and always check it out if I feel that massaging this area will be helpful. I don’t however routinely check whether clients want their feet massaged and occasionally I get a client who can’t stand their feet being touched. (I have only had two of these to date.) This week I got a new one in that a client couldn’t tolerate her face being touched as it made her feel she was drowning.

It is important that I respect the clients wishes in these things, however if a client with such a phobic response is open to it I might suggest working towards getting over this but keeping myself open to a negative answer as in my view pushing my agenda above that of the client amounts to the therapist abusing their power.

With that in mind, it is refreshing on occasion to get a new client where it is more difficult to make some of these assumptions. This was also true this week. I couldn’t be sure of the client’s sex based on the name, never mind age. I did rightly assume the client to be of Chinese origin though and like other Chinese I have treated she was interested in a much more deep tissue type of massage than is normal in Aromatherapy, this being more in keeping with Chinese and Thai massage styles. On this occasion I didn’t assume this to be true until she told me.

In summary, assumptions allow me to prepare in my mind a little how I am going to proceed with treatment but only if they are correct. It is important to always check them out and be prepared to work with a reality that differs from what I expect.