We all need to be listened to, but sometimes, that need can actually obscure communications. Take care not to be misled when a client gets carried away responding to your intake questions. Massage sessions typically begin with a question from the therapist to the client along the lines of “What would you like to work on today?” or “What brings you in today?” or one of my favorites, “Are there any parts of your body that hurt?”
Sometimes, though, people can get caught up in their stories. Everyone loves an invitation to talk about him or herself, particularly from their massage therapist. Asking them how they are doing or checking in on any pain or discomfort shows them that their needs matter to you, which is vital to building a strong rapport with your clients that will bring them back again and again. Plus, it’s vital for you to know where to focus your work.
Occasionally, though, you’re going to get an earful of just why that toe or shoulder or knee hurts—in tedious and gruesome detail. From there, you might assume that this person’s primary area of concern is absolutely killing them and think that you’re going to need to spend a good hour of massage just trying to make it feel better. That would be a reasonable assumption, based on the amount of detail that they went into and the time they spent talking about it. It’s tricky, though, because sometimes people simply like to talk about their pain and problems, but they don’t mean to be saying that they only want work there. They might actually be looking for more of a generalized massage, or even a full-body Swedish.
Don’t be fooled by these inadvertent miscommunications. Always ask, “So do you want to do specific treatment work to help your problem area get better, or would you like more of a full-body massage?” Add this question to your intake, and you might be very surprised how often someone was just caught up in the story but actually wants you to do more of a generalized massage session.