Who is in charge?

Why do I ask this? I guess largely because this question is I suspect in many client’s minds when they come for a massage be that an aromatherapy treatment or any other sort of massage be it sports or deep tissue or Swedish.

I covered some of the ground I am looking at now in my last post on “What happens when I come for an appointment.” I was prompted to write this because the same day, I had a female client who came with a voucher bought by a female friend who had been for an appointment a couple of weeks previously.

She was very nervous, obviously about the fact that I was a male practitioner and asked if I could restrict the massage to her back, legs and arms. My response was, “Of course. A massage that makes you feel uncomfortable is not going to help you in any way.”

We talked some more about what she wanted from the massage and stress relief was a major part of it. So I chose oils with that in mind. When I returned to the room after she had got undressed, instead of lying the towel on top of her she had wrapped it tightly around her body. This meant that I didn’t massage the bottom third of her back nor as high u on her legs as I normally would.

While for maximum benefit, I might have wanted to massage more of her body, I had no doubt that the stress involved for her would have more than outweighed any benefit. The most important thing was to allow her to be in charge. I also decided to leave the room while she turned over in order to allow me to massage the front of her legs.

I don’t know if the reasons for her nervousness were purely cultural or down to a traumatic experience in the past. If the latter, I may find out if she comes back which she said she might do. The important thing for me was to  do everything I could to ensure that the experience for her was not a traumatic one but rather one where she was able to feel in charge  cared for. Trying to break through her barriers with working with a man rather than allowing her to retain control would have been counter productive to say the least.