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[alt.backrubs] Frequently Asked Questions (FAQL), (4/5)
Section - Professional issues

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
a) The alt.backrubs newsgroup has had many discussions of issues
related to massage as a profession and tools and techniques for massage
professionals.  Copies of many posts on these topics are available in the
alt.backrubs archive (see question 5.1.2).  For example, the archive
contains information about massage tables, professional organizations,
exams and draping standards.
   The BODYWORK mailing-list aims to be for discussion amongst bodywork
practitioners.  If you are a professional MT or studying to be one then you
might be interested in the list.  Question 5.2.4 b) has details about the
list and how to subscribe.


b) Emotional response considerations
Keith Grant, a massage instructor (amongst many other things), has
submitted the following notes about emotional response considerations in
professional massage.  More information about this topic is available in
the archive file `emot.release' (see question 5.1.2 for information about
the archive).


        As a massage professional you should be aware that some
     clients might suffer strong emotional release during massage.
     You need to be able to recognize signs of such sublimated
     emotions and to know how deal with such issues when they arise in
     your massage practice.
        Unresolved emotions can become anchored in the body as a
     result of physical and emotional traumas.  One can think of the
     body as maintaining `physical memories' of such emotions in the
     tension of muscles.  The condition is especially common with
     those who suffered physical or sexual abuse as children.  It can
     be that over time, the body becomes habituated to the unbalanced
     muscle tensions.  Eventually, patterns of body usage and posture
     are changed in an unconscious attempt to compensate. 

        Massage can bring anchored emotions and associated memories
     back to conscious awareness.  Indeed some psychotherapies involve
     forms of bodywork intended to focus the patients attention on
     tension in their body (more information is available in the
     `mas.vs.psychotherapy' file in the archive, which is the subject
     of question 5.1.2).  While the re-awakening of emotions is a
     process that can contribute greatly to re-integration and
     healing, it is important as a massage practitioner not to assume
     the role of emotional therapist or become caught up in listening
     to verbal stories. 

        It is equally important, however, to bring your focus and
     awareness to bodywork sessions.  A massage professional should be
     aware of their client's overall way of inhabiting their body.
     Watch how they hold themselves, walk and gesture.  Projections of
     being overly rigid, collapsed, or inanimate/dissociated can be
     indications of past abuse. 
        Abuse survivors can have trouble `owning' their bodies.  They
     may feel loss of breath or voice.  If their physical memories are
     triggered, such clients may remove all of their conscious
     awareness from their body. Not feeling able to `own' parts of
     their body can lead to discernible splits in the use and vitality
     of their body, e.g. left/right or upper/lower.
        Be aware that a client may verbally agree to a technique while
     disagreeing with their body language.  An example could be saying
     yes while shaking their head or retreating slightly from your
     hand.  Such incongruence in presentation is a subtle indicator of
     the incongruence between their conscious and unconscious thoughts
     and feelings.  Try to be attentive to subtle changes in
     breathing, tension level and small movements, that might be early
     indicators of emotional responses during a session.

     How you should react
        In the event that one of your clients has a strong emotional
     response to deep tissue work, you may need to forego further work
     planned for the session.  Keep your own centre, stay calm, and
     remember that your goal is neither to `fix' the problem nor to
     add your own emotional reaction to the client's process.  Instead
     assume a role of offering the quiet acceptance and support that
     will enable the client to reach an acceptable level of
     equilibrium by the end of the session.  This may include gentle
     grounding work around the head, neck, shoulders, or feet and
     ankles.  Remind the client to breathe. Often the most important
     thing you can do is to quietly convey to the client a sense of
     connectedness and support. 

     Aside: The words people use
        Although many people do refer to storage of memories in the
     body I tend to avoid referring too literally to this as a
     mechanism. I prefer to think of memories, not necessarily
     available via conscious cognitive paths being indexed (hence my
     phrase `bookmark') or reached by the more primitive and
     unconscious sensory paths from touch. It's not necessary to
     understand the mechanism or location of memory storage for the
     metaphor to useful.  I've come to this view, partly from some
     training I've had in Ericksonion trancework.
        In a similar vein, I try to avoid limiting the bodily causes
     to habitual tension. The interactions are complex. The original
     abuse could have been any (or all) of: physical abuse, emotional
     abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.  The abuse or neglect survivor
     often loses both their voice (in the physical and metaphorical
     senses) and possession of parts of their body.
        Many times they lose all conscious sensation in parts of their
     body.  The physical outcomes can include tension, disruptions in
     movement, breathing and speech.  However you should not assume
     that these symptoms are necessarily a direct result of tension.
     One of the outcomes can be muscular collapse that leads to a lack
     of normal tonality or tension.  On the emotional level, the
     ability to establish normal boundaries may be lost or never
     learned.  Incongruence between verbal and nonverbal responses
     (e.g. saying yes and shaking the head no) often indicates the
     resulting conscious/unconscious split.

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Top Document: [alt.backrubs] Frequently Asked Questions (FAQL), (4/5)
Previous Document: News Headers
Next Document: Finding a good professional massage

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