One of the most common struggles for practitioners is managing time effectively. If you are a practitioner or teacher we all know that a 3-hour treatment allows just enough time to get to the whole body nicely, where we can feel as though we’ve made a really significant difference in energy and physiology. More time would even be nice. The only thing is, 3-hour treatments are largely inaccessible in a modern context. Sometimes it’s all we can do to get an hour away from our busy lives to schedule a treatment.
I can almost hear the conversations started now – yes indeed this “lack of time” actually signals a greater need for a longer treatment and yet the fact remains that if clients don’t believe they have the time, they will not book for longer than they are comfortable. As a practitioner, you’re here to serve clients in a way that works best for them rather than how it best suits you (in regards to time and in fact, our entire approach). If we guide anyone to a decision they’re not totally comfortable with, we risk them feeling anxious and uncomfortable going into the session, which is entirely counter-productive and has a higher potential for treatment dissatisfaction.
The other side of the coin is that as practitioners we also have to consider the therapeutics of all our treatments, especially in a modern context we must work with a therapeutic mindset to achieve a sustainable client-base and repeat visits. Not only do we have to work therapeutically but also we need to do so within a time frame. It is absolutely useful to set a minimum treatment length, yet considering the note above I would advise making it about an hour; once again meeting people where they’re at rather than pushing their comfort levels. If we place a minimum treatment length at more than 2-hours we also risk significantly limiting our clientele – and this isn’t sustainable if we intend on creating a living from our art and nor does it allow us to serve the community in a way that shows as many people as possible the true gifts and power of compassionate touch. From experience, an hour is enough time to provide a great Thai massage session that creates both therapeutic relief and deep relaxation. It is also a wonderful opportunity for client-education in the seemingly distorted time vortex created in a Thai yoga treatment. Once you’ve built healthy rapport with your client, this ‘vortex’ phenomenon can provide a window of opportunity to suggest trying an extra 30-minutes on a treatment. This way we can gradually extend treatment length to where we can enhance the benefits of a treatment even further.
The main thing to remember is that the most good we can do for people is to work with them over time (months/years), firstly to help restore optimal health and then to maintain it! If this requires that we start with shorter treatment times and gradually build length in as the true value of our work becomes evident to clients, then it is a small compromise on our behalf in the larger picture.
With all that said about time, we then also have to customize our treatments effectively and efficiently to achieve therapeutic benefit in a format that is accessible to a majority of the general public. When I teach (and practice), a primary topic of discussion revolves around building trust, both verbally and non-verbally through every single interaction we have with people. There are many things that feed into this concept, including (but not limited to) the overarching idea of “slowing it down”, a full and detailed health consultation, and giving them what they came for (plus more, hopefully!).
Like I mentioned a moment ago – the most effective work we can do with people occurs over months and years. You’re much better off giving someone what they want the first few times in order to get them coming back, than giving them what you think they actually need, having them leave dissatisfied and having the therapy cut completely short. This is better for everyone involved – and you get to facilitate meaningful change in peoples’ lives. The key term in here that I believe is paramount to all of the work we do is “facilitate” – more on this distinction in another blog post (We are facilitators, not healers).
So if someone comes to you and asks for shoulders, upper back and neck – the best thing to do is put your own preferences aside, and give them exactly that to the absolute best of your ability. Often with our work in Thai Massage we also have the opportunity to use techniques that not only stimulate or release those particular areas, but also highlight tension in other areas. Using such postures to effect multiple regions of the body at once, is not only a great way to “sneak in” the work they truly need, but also it’s a great internal education tool, where the client gets to learn a little about what else is happening in their body (without you having to verbally tell them anything)! We explore the idea of tension that is “hidden” from clients in another post.
Take care of people how they like to be taken care of, and everyone wins.