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Massage Today
August, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 08

Incorporating Energy Techniques into Massage Therapy Sessions

By Marie-Christine Lochot, LMT

Most of the time, energy modalities are performed by energy practitioners who do those techniques exclusively or by massage therapists who offer them as a separate service within their massage practice.

At first sight, it seems pretty logical to do it this way. After all, massage clients take their clothes off; their soft tissue is being rubbed with a lubricant, frictioned and stretched. On the other hand, energy clients keep their clothes on; their energy is being balanced by light touch or none at all. It seems those two types of bodywork cannot co-habitate. What if they could? What would be the advantages for the therapists and their clients? Which challenges would the therapists encounter when introducing this new type of session to their clientele?

Theraptist Advantages

Incorporating energy techniques into massage sessions has three main advantages for the massage therapist. The first one is the most obvious: energy techniques are easier on the therapist's body. Everybody in the massage industry knows that massage therapy is physically demanding. Overuse injuries, fatigue and burn out are common occurrences limiting the amount of massages a therapist can give and reducing the longevity of therapist's careers. In 2012, only one out of three massage therapists worked full time (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Handbook) and in 2009, 6.3 years was the average length of time massage therapists worked in their industry (2009 AMTA Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet).

shiatsu massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Including energy techniques into a massage session can reduce the physical strain on the therapist's body without diminishing the final results of relaxation, muscle loosening and pain reduction. Since specific meridians govern specific muscles, an energy intervention on one meridian will induce muscle release making the massage work easier and more productive. Rubbing an acupressure point for two minutes can take away a one sided headache. The second advantage is that energy techniques allow therapists to serve clients who, for health reasons, cannot receive regular massage work, temporarily or forever, on all or on some parts of their body. As an example, consider a client who just had surgery, broke a leg or is going through cancer treatments. The therapist can use energy techniques that will have a positive impact on the areas that cannot be massaged with the usual level of pressure or that cannot be touched. The client will still experience relief. Lastly, some energy interventions can induce relaxation and take pain away in a few minutes. Once the client is relaxed, the remainder of the bodywork can be administered. It may increase the client's satisfaction level with very limited stress on the practitioner's body.

Client Advantages

Massage sessions including energy techniques also have many advantages for the client. Energy work is easier on the therapist's body but also on the client's body making the session more pleasant with the same or better results. Even if our society favors the "no pain, no gain" attitude, on the receiving end of bodywork it is appreciable to feel improvement in muscle tightness without feeling pain. Starting a session with relaxing energy interventions will get the clients into a peaceful state right away, therefore enhancing the experience and the feeling of well being. My clients are always amazed how five to ten minutes of energy work on their head can wipe away their stress. Some of those energy techniques can be taught to clients at the end of the massage, giving them stress reduction tools that they can use every day. Finally, energy modalities help with muscular issues, but also have an impact on the organ's health, balance and vitality, increasing the benefits clients get from the massage. Not only will they feel better during and after the session, but at their return visit may comment on other health benefits, like better digestion, more stamina or mood improvement.

A Process

Introducing this new type of massage session to current clients must be a thoughtful process. After twelve years of incorporating energy techniques into massage sessions, I have learned sometimes painfully, a few rules. When I say painfully I mean I lost a client because I was so enthusiastic about energy work that I misjudged his willingness to experiment and went overboard, working too much. Not only did I lose his weekly appointment, but also lost his wife's weekly visit!

Here is the basic rule that I learned. Introducing energy interventions to clients should be done the same way most people like being introduced to a new cuisine. Small portions and relating the new techniques to something they are already familiar with will ensure a more favorable and receptive outcome. First, if they tell you as they arrive, "I could not wait to have my massage. I loved so much what you did the last time," this is probably not the good day to try something different. But if they say, "I felt great after the last massage but it lasted only two days," that is an opening for you to propose something new which could bring them longer lasting results.

Second, choose one energy technique at a time and even if they love it, refrain from the urge to use another one. Why? The answer is in three-fold. A second energy intervention would take time away from the regular massage. They loved the first one so leave them with that impression. Not doing another one might make them more open to an increased amount of energy work at their next visit.

Lastly, the energy technique you use has to be one that requires you to touch especially if it is the first time they receive energy work. Remember, they made an appointment for a massage so they want hand contact. A nice chakra clearing moving energy above their body will not satisfy them even if it has some known health benefits. There are a good number of energy interventions that are done making contact with the body. Some others can be adapted to "feel" more like a massage.

Finally touching the body on the meridian lines can produce very good results if you know how to do it. As your clients get more familiar with those new techniques, you might be able to use some energy techniques that don't require touching, especially if they have a health problem that could be helped by such intervention.

It is possible to incorporate energy techniques into massage sessions. Be prepared though to have clients who will never be open to it. It can enhance benefits for your clients and can reduce the physical strain on your body, diminishing your chances of injuries and increasing the longevity of your massage career. It might even make your massage practice more successful. Why don't you give it a try?


Marie-Christine Lochot is a licensed massage therapist, energy bodyworker and educator. Owner of Massage Montclair in New Jersey, she has been a member of the AMTA since 1994 and is nationally certified by NCBTMB. With specialties in Swedish massage, massage for people affected by cancer and energy healing, Marie-Christine coaches and teaches energy healing to laypeople, massage professionals and in the corporate environment. With a diverse background in management and accounting, Marie-Christine also teaches small business and private practice organization. She can be reached at www.massagemontclair.com.

 

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