Engaging Your Patients with the Senses

Engaging Your Patients with the Senses

Columnist and licenced massage therapist David Kent recently wrote an interesting article that acknowledges the importance of sensory stimuli to patients’ perceptions of treatment. Sight, sound, touch, and smell all inform individuals’ evaluations of massage experiences, and in turn can influence their decisions to return, to upgrade treatments, or to refer another prospective patient.

For these reasons, Kent argues that it’s very important we pay attention to some secondary senses in our clinics. New RMTs may naturally focus their attention solely on touch, neglecting certain other factors that could critically enhance (or detract from) the patient-experience. He recommends special care be given to the following:

Sight: Kent reminds RMTs that first impressions are critical. This includes your website, social media, and of course the setting in which you work. Keep all of these domains welcoming, uncluttered and informative. Patients will also appreciate visual information that you can provide them with. Give a thorough explanation of the instruments you’ll be using, or use a 3D model of the spine to illustrate your assessment. Kent mentions postural analysis photos as an effective tool for selling treatments.

Sound and Hearing: This goes two ways. Practitioners should be sensitive to what their patients hear during treatment. Calming vocal tones, soothing music or the option to wear headphones can enhance the massage for the patient. Additionally however, the practitioner should be highly attuned to listening carefully to patients. Address their concerns and sense their mood- are they apprehensive? Stressed?

Smell: Consider supplementing your treatment with aromatherapy. Certain oils and fragrances can help patients relax, and can also make the experience more pleasant.

Temperature: This is a key factor for patient comfort. Remember to consider your treatment room, waiting room, table, oils and hands.

Kent’s is a smart approach to take for optimal patient experiences. While his article suggests the profitability of many of these sensory considerations, strategizing with these aims in mind will also improve your patient relationships and the quality of your service. Patients will appreciate the lengths to which you’ve gone to see to their comfort. They are more likely to trust a practitioner who seems to intuitively understand their needs. Plus simple attentiveness is a desirable quality in any medical therapist.

So as you practice your technique, work at your practicum placement or begin working as a licenced RMT, make sure to think of the sensory appeals of your massage: what would a patient have to say about your practice?

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