I often hear friends and others saying that this or that therapy doesn’t work for them. I have heard this said of Massage, Osteopathy, CBT, Psychoanalysis Acupuncture and quite a few others.
Now clearly, the areas I can address why therapy might or might not work are Massage and Aromatherapy, though I suspect the reasons for other therapies not working may be similar. Some years ago, I read in a psychotherapy journal some research that found the relationship between the therapist and the client made far more difference to the outcome than the type of therapy. To me this makes a lot of sense given that my personal experience of working in therapy from both sides is that where the relationship is good, the therapy is much more effective. Indeed, when I worked with adolescents in in-patient mental health units, there were some patients, I formed a strong relationship with and was able to do a lot of effective work with and others whom any work I did was of little effect. Others on the teams I worked with found they did more effective work with different patients from myself.
This doesn’t make my approach or theirs right or wrong, just different. However, there are some common threads that I believe are important. All of us who worked effectively really listened to those we worked with. Not only did we listen but we respected what we were told. This is a cornerstone of my work in Massage and Aromatherapy. It doesn’t matter that a client has been told by a GP, pain clinic or whoever that their pain is all in the mind. The pain is real, whatever the cause.
With physical pain, I believe that psychological factors are usually more important than physical ones in improving matters whether or not there is an identified physical cause but if I don’t believe my client, I am not going to be able to help them.
The other cornerstone of my practice besides a knowledge of the oils I use and of Massage is Mindfulness. by practising this, I can give better attention to my clients both during the consultation and during the actual massage. It is an interesting though not particularly pleasant exercise to be massaged by someone who is being mindful and by someone who is doing mental arithmatic at the time. When being a client it is very easy to tell the difference.
I also encourage my clients to be mindful during a massage. That way they can tell me more quickly if something is not right for them. I also believe that even if they don’t have anything to tell me about how I am massaging them, it still helps them to get more out of the massage. I find these two cornerstones of listening and mindfulness to be if anything even more true of my Massage and Aromatherapy Practice than when I worked in Mental Health in the NHS. This holds for working with both the physical and the psychological, the latter making up eighty percent or more of my work.
So, make sure the therapist you choose is one you are comfortable with. If you are not comfortable with a male therapist for massage don’t come to me. If you are not comfortable working with a male, maybe don’t even come to me for a consultation to choose oils to use in a balm at home. Also tell your therapist what you are and what you are not comfortable with. I had one client who had been bought the massage as a present who was uncomfortable with much of her body being seen by a male therapist so when she turned over, I left the room. Any therapist should respect their client’s sensitivities. Sometimes it is OK to challenge them but only if this can be done in a respectful way. It is not our job to make our clients see the world in our way!