Each massage therapist that I know has very specific feelings on sound in their treatment room; namely music, talking during session, and cell phone usage. Over the years, I have had time to feel out what works in my space, and thought the blog may be a good place to share my personal thoughts regarding how I navigate this at Shanti Bodywork.
Oh, massage music… the term conjures thoughts of flutes, synthesizers and singing bowls. But is it really necessary to optimize the experience?
At Shanti, my goal with music has always been “relaxing, but not too cheezy.” I’ve always kept my music selections to instrumental-only, as I never wanted lyrics during a session to which my client could potentially attach themselves. One never know a client’s life experiences, and I’d hate to trigger any negative memories or sad experiences for them.
Lately, however, I’ve brought more opportunity for choice into the space, and both my clients and myself have really enjoyed it! I have one client who, after a few sessions, asked if I had anything more upbeat – and she decided she preferred to listen to a Motown playlist. Now when she comes in I switch the music over, and we both enjoy Aretha and The Supremes…and I truly believe that this change has improved the massage experience for her, while also providing a little variety and inspiration to me.
When I moved to the new office I switched over to an online music service (Spotify), which allows for on-the-fly changes to the genre, and we really have been having fun with it. I’ve even gone a step further, and begun offering the option to build a custom playlist (charging a small amount per song) that I can store as “yours” for your future sessions, and update at will. Alternately, if you are a Spotify user and want to create your own playlist for me to use, we can make that happen.
Reach out to me directly to discuss these options.
Overall, opening my space up to this little bit of self expression and variety has brought some levity and good old fashioned fun into the space, and everyone has been enjoying it.
And not to worry: I still have PLENTY of access to reed instruments and wind chimes!
As cell phones have quickly become an extension of our person (like it or not), massage therapists have been struggling with boundaries surrounding them. Many therapists are highly anti-cell phone, telling clients that phones MUST be off, or left in another room…but my stance isn’t so extreme. I understand and appreciate that a life exists outside of my treatment room. People have small children, appointments with contractors, and cars at the mechanic. If you are able to shut it off completely and disconnect fully during your session, that’s fantastic!
But I refuse to shun those that may need to stay quasi-connected for a specific reason. Many of my clients in this position choose to leave your phone on vibrate and face up on the table, so I am able to check the screen and let them know who’s calling (thus eliminating the panicked dig through the purse while laying face down on the table). If it’s needed, I’m happy to hand it over…but just remember that 10 minutes gabbing with mom is 10 minutes less massage time!
TALKING IN SESSION
Again, this is a HOT topic amongst massage therapists. In some massage studios there is a strict no talking stance, and therapists will remind clients of this if conversation is started. In my opinion, however, there is more of a spectrum of what works. I find that many people relax faster and more completely by chatting; it is simply one way that some people are able to unwind. I find that new clients in particular, who may for whatever reason be a little uneasy with massage, are able to ease into this new experience fast with a few minutes of general light conversation.
When a new client comes to the office, I typically say “feel free to laugh, cry, chat, snore, or just enjoy some quiet time,” and I always follow the client’s lead. A common trend that I notice is some light chatter through the first half of the massage, and then quiet at the halfway mark, aka The Flip. I also have a handful (ok, it’s a large
handful) with whom I more or less laugh through the entire session – and I support that! Laughter loosens things up literally as well – I can skip the “take a deep breath” spiel and happily work with belly laughs – and clients leave not only loosened up but also refreshed, smiling and ready for the next part of their day. And if one of my “talkers” comes in on any given day and wants to enjoy a quiet space, I am happy to provide that space for them as well!
In summary, as a therapist you have to create an environment in which you are comfortable working. Personally? I’ve learned that not taking myself too seriously and providing a little flexibility works best. Any thoughts? Please share, I’d love to hear them!