Ask any successful MT why they became a massage therapist and they’ll go into diverse reasons why they got into the business. Perhaps it was the potent combination of loving the experience of giving and receiving massages; a fascination with the human physiology; the belief in the value of safe, therapeutic touch; or having experienced the health benefits of massage themselves and wanting to share it with others.
Underlying any offered reasons you’ll find a genuine sense of caring, and a deep and authentic desire to be of service, or to “heal others”. If you are one of those who stated the latter in quotes, I want you to pay particular attention to this article.
All massage schools are different. Depending on what the focus is of the massage school, what the perspective of the teachers were, and what frame of mind students were in when they attended, newly minted Massage Therapists may or may not learn a key nuance in the world of massage.
Massage graduates go to work and with enough experience over time, come to a realization that is humbling and freeing. They realize experientially that they do have the power to help people heal but that they don’t have the ability to heal anyone with massage.
Massage is an Ancient Healing Art
Healing the human body of illness and injury is an ancient diverse art, with methods spanning from sound, light, scent, energy, prayer, intention and an infinite myriad of hands on techniques manipulations of the tissues that comprise the bio-form.
Whatever you call yourself – bodyworker, massage practitioner, massage therapist, masseuse, masseur, healer – you may have come into this line of work with certain expectations. You’d go to massage school, learn human anatomy and physiology, pathology and kinesiology, massage tools, techniques and self-care, and out you’d come ready and able heal the injured athlete or stressed out business person.
But if you take on the attitude of being the responsible for your client’s healing, rather than a facilitator of your client’s healing, you could wind up injured, burned out, and quitting the business fairly quickly if you don’t have this simple little shift of intention.
You are Facilitating Healing with Massage
Your client comes to you for a massage for the purpose of stress relief, preventative health care or healing. For the next hour, they are entrusting themselves to your care. They are allowing themselves to be affected not only by the techniques you use, but your intention and energy, as well.
By releasing responsibility yet holding the space for the client to heal, you are more likely to be a witness to the true miracle of healing. People can heal, but only when they are energetically ready to. There are so many reasons why a human being may subconsciously cling to a pattern of illness, injury or pain.
You Can’t Heal Anyone with Massage – but You can Help them Heal Themselves
Yes, in an hour you can help people along the path to healing themselves. But new massage therapists sometimes head out into the world thinking it is they who can “heal others”. This attitude is dangerous to the health of your career as a healer.
It is not your responsibility to heal your client. Re-read that slowly. Feel how this statement takes the pressure off of you during the massage to perform and allows you to come from the heart and truly give without expectation of results.
Release Expectations of the Massage’s Results
Letting go of expectations, giving the responsibility/credit of healing back to the client at the end of a massage is something I recommend highly, having been a massage therapist since 1999. This shift of intention releases any detrimental energetic ties in the therapist/client relationship and keeps you from “transference” or taking on other people’s stuff.
Holding the space of allowing your client to be empowered to be able to choose to heal themselves while not being attached to the outcome of them healing or not is the key to reducing transference (for more tips see my article on “Killer Massages Can Make for Wicked Transference”.
Holding that highly effective healing space takes intending for that higher vibrational vision of pure powerful potential strongly while maintaining detachment from the outcome.
Release all expectations of your massage client healing directly because of anything you did. You are facilitating their healing by the work you do; ultimately the choice and ability to heal always lies within the power of the client.
Have you experienced “Transference” doing Massage?
Now that you’ve become aware of this phenomenon, what are your experiences with transference? Have you walked away from working on a client’s injury or during an illness and then experienced it yourself? If so, how soon after massage school did this happen? What did you learn and do differently from that point on? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
About the Author
Rodney Trepess is the founder of MassageSchool.org, a community for aspiring massage therapy students and CMTs. Rodney has been writing about massage therapy schools, careers, and best practices for 4 years, and continues to work closely with students to find the right schools and CMTs to help grow their practices.
Note: Check out Ultimate Guide To Massage Therapy: A Complete Guide To Western and Eastern Massage or Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists on this page.