Developing a strong relationship with clients is a rewarding, but often difficult exercise. A strong client-therapist relationship is going to result in the most effective healing experience. A relationship is founded on trust, experience and mutual respect. Without developing these three components, a client will never be as transparent and as comfortable as they should be.
So what is the best way to develop a relationship with a new client?
Learn to Deal With Vulnerability
A massage therapist has to be comfortable around people in discomfort and pain. Generally, individuals experiencing extreme discomfort will be in a very vulnerable position. This vulnerability may make the client uncomfortable or uncooperative.
A massage therapist needs to demonstrate to the client that vulnerability is nothing to be ashamed of. First, it’s important to be professional. Proper hygiene, attire, and attitude will go miles towards making your client feel comfortable. Second, it’s incredibly important to reserve judgments about an individual’s body or lifestyle. If the client is doing something that’s incredibly detrimental to their health, that’s one thing, but making a client feel uncomfortable on their height, weight or skin conditions is another.
You’ve done these massages a hundred times, so sometimes it’s easy to forget that this might be a client’s first massage experience. Transparency is going to help soothe a client.
Talk your client through your massages. Inform them what you are doing, and why. That way any cracks or discomfort can be placed in its proper context.
Know Your Boundaries
Finally, boundaries are a necessity. No massage therapist should ever have hands on work with a client if they don’t understand personal boundaries. Some clients will have different conceptions of personal space, so it’s important to always speak to your clients first to better understand their comfort zones.
Of course, respect and trust is a two-way street. A client should never do anything that would violate the client-therapist relationship.