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How to Handle a Difficult Massage Therapy Client

One of the greatest things about being a massage therapist is the help you’re able to give people – in fact, for many therapists, this is the single-greatest reward of the profession. There are a lot of different reasons why people book massage therapy sessions. In some cases, there are injuries and physical traumas that need healing and comfort. In many other situations, people are stressed out and carrying a great deal of tension in their bodies. The ability to play a key role in helping people to achieve a deeper state of relaxation and healing is one of the best things about the profession.

But there is also a “subjective” aspect of massage therapy. No matter how solid your training, and no matter how sound your technique, there will always be clients who are difficult to help. In some cases, a client simply might not respond to the style of treatment you’re providing. They might have a complaint about the ambiance, or the facilities. They might feel the pressure is too much – or not enough. Every therapist will encounter clients who seem difficult to please. Understanding why they feel the way they do – and knowing how to manage these encounters – is one of the keys to long-term success in the field.

  1. Communication is key

The number one way to diffuse tension with a difficult client is communication. So often, a lack of communication on the massage table is the root cause of negative experiences. Maintaining a good level of communication before, during, and after the treatment will help to make sure you’re both on the same page, and that you as a therapist are making the right adjustments to deliver a positive experience.

  1. Rely on your training and experience

When a therapist enters the field without high-quality training, they have less confidence in the methods and techniques they’re using. Graduating from a top-ranked massage therapy school is a confidence booster because you can rely on what you know. A good program will also give you plenty of real-world skills beyond massage technique – including the ins and outs of running a massage therapy business, and how to manage a client experience that might be trending toward the negative.

  1. Freshen up your training

Education never ends for a massage therapist – a good school will give you the right fundamentals, and the experience you accumulate while working as a professional therapist is priceless. But there are always new things to learn in this field. Sometimes, negative experiences with clients (especially if they seem to be happening consistently) are a sign that it’s time to get back into the classroom for some fresh knowledge and inspiration.

Difficult clients are part of the business

We’re all human beings – we all have good days and bad days. As massage therapists, we’re in a unique position to build bridges and help people feel more positive. This isn’t always easy, and people-skills are a hugely important part of being a successful therapist in the long-term. When therapists have a well-rounded view of the skills necessary to succeed, they’re in prime position to do just that.

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