Being A Client.

Tara Buckel
January 22, 2024

I’ve just had my first massage of the year.  Every massage I get is very different from what I have had before, I can't imagine going to a therapist who does a routine massage, but this felt a very different experience.  I've had some of time away from my clinic, a change of pace (with very little routine)  My time had been focused on me, my family and my home.

My therapist I go to twice a month is trained in the same massage modality as me, so we work in a similar way and I am very comfortable with that.  We have a variety of massage styles that we work with and our clients, once they get used to what we do, decide what massage they want.

Today I requested a very structural massage.  It does vary, but I mostly go for a flowing and soothing style with lots of fluid sweeping massage or really slow and deep squishing compressions.  My goal usually is all about letting go of stuff in my head space and feeling soothed. Many of my regular clients astound and impress me by having an idea before they arrive about how they want to feel from their session.  I usually can't do that.  I have a thirty minute drive to my therapist, but even the journey isn’t the time I use to suss out what I want from my session.  I've given up trying, it just doesn't work like that for me.  It is a good prep time though, I play some music I love (loudly) and sing along (hoping no one notices) and just get some space to breathe.  It's only when I arrive at my therapists clinic, sit down and start talking that I get the feeling of what I need right there, right then.  My regular clients often have a routine for the day they get their massage.  I love that!  They tend to come at the same time of day each month and build their day around their treatment so they can get the best out of it.  It might be getting all their tasks for the day done before so they can chill after, or having a long walk in the countryside after their session or even telling their kids “No rows tonight.  I’m having some R&R”

If you go to a massage therapist, it's really important that you go to someone who prioritises getting a regular massage themselves.  This is important for a number of reasons.  Firstly, they need to believe in what they do, they need to benefit from, in part, what they do as a living so they can identify with clients who use their massage to support their wellness.  They also need to keep their learning and integrity as a therapist by being a client.  By that, I mean turning up to a massage in the same way that any client should.  To be open to ask and receive what they need from their session. It's not easy doing that, it takes a lot of trust and I would be selling my therapist, myself and my treatment time short if I turned up expecting her to tell me what I need from my treatment.

So today, I requested full on, pacy, structural work.  I wanted this work focused on my spine, my hips and (as ever, my shoulders and my neck)  My neck always needs attention, and my therapist is well aware (as we discuss each time how deep the work should be) that my neck needs lighter work.  Since I became unwell three years ago with a chronic condition, my neck is the place where the tension sits, for 2 years it was pretty constant pain. This past year, it’s just there when I am tense or tired.  Despite me taking it really easy over the holidays, my neck and shoulders were quite painful and I cannot relaxed during a structural massage knowing that the same work is going to happen to my neck too...because I would be waiting for that to hurt.  And massage is no place for pain, otherwise how on earth can I be expected to relax and let go of my tension if I'm bracing myself for discomfort?  

I commented before I got on the table how cold my feet were, despite doing 40 minutes of yoga before i’d arrived. As my feet and calves were being worked at the beginning, i realised part of the reason I requested this structural style was because my energy was feeling sluggish, I needed some shaking up and releasing through my spine and hips.  Which is what I got!  The music was really powerful (chosen by my therapist to help her move effectively for the style of massage)  It also set the scene for me and felt really quite dramatic and eventful which helped me focus on my outcome/goal.  

I think of a great massage as being part of a journey.  And feeling comfortable enough to let go is part of that journey.  Some clients have the amazing capability to switch off for the entire massage.  I am totally in awe of people who do this.  Some think that means they've ‘missed it’, but despite drifting off for (or part of) the session, that doesn't mean they are not going to benefit...Quite the opposite.  I think if you can switch off, then you are in a zone of utter trust, comfort and relaxation where your body and mind are embracing the session. There’s lots of evidence regarding the benefits of the pain releasing, immunity and happy hormones released in this state.  I have only managed to spend the majority of a massage session in this state a handful of times although I consistently achieve this state by the end of my session.  I’m still a rookie, despite training in the psychology of touch, training as a MT and receiving 2 massages a week for 5 years, I’m learning all the time and more than happy to continue to learn from my clients and from getting my own treatments.

If you would like to learn more about therapy sessions or book a treatment with me, call or text 07527 878657 or email tara@therapyroom-oxon.co.uk

Tara Buckel
Therapist since 1999. Specialising in TraumaTherapy and Pain Management
Main photograph credit:
Tara Buckel

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