Client Expectations

posted Sep 4, 2010, 11:36 AM by breath balance   [ updated Sep 5, 2010, 7:30 PM ]
Just like clients have expectations for therapists, (i.e. being clean, professional, honest, friendly, and clearly communicating) therapists have certain expectations of clients.

Just like the client, therapists want massage to be a positive, comfortable, and effective experience. That means clear boundaries have to be set. These boundaries are not just in regard to what happens inside the massage room but throughout the entire interaction. 

Once, long ago, I had a client at a previous employer that was so rude in her tone and demands that my hands started shaking which led to me ending the session ten minutes into it. Since then I realized positive feelings toward the person on the table were a necessary prerequisite for me to massage them. 

Doing quality work in massage requires a positive intent. Literally it takes a desire to see the person under my hands made better by the work I am doing. Maintaining this positive intent in addition to a safe, supportive, and therapeutic environment means maintaining good faith between therapist and client. 

It means that once the client has violated the atmosphere of good faith through intentional dishonesty, or inappropriate behavior they have seriously jeopardized the future of that therapeutic relationship.

It depends on the situation and the level of dishonesty whether or not the relationship is salvageable. 

Once upon a time at an employer far far a way, me and a fellow therapist had a pair of clients show up ten minutes late, tell the front desk they had gotten there on time, and that they (the front desk) had not noticed them. They then insisted upon getting their full time, and walked out when we informed them that that was not possible. 

The schedule was too tight at this particular establishment to squeeze in extra time without making other sessions late. Later on they complained to the corporate offices and were awarded free massages.

What these clients did not know is that upon return to this establishment the front had difficulty finding two therapists who would massage them and ultimately had to bring in a therapist on their day off to do it. Why? Because we all knew how dishonest these clients had been. Everyone had heard the story, so in spite of the fact that we would be paid for the session no one wanted to touch them. 

It boggles my mind that anyone agreed to it. After all, a client who lies about their arrival time might also lie about the quality of the session, what areas were massaged, and whether or not they got their full time etc. 

A dishonest client is a huge liability for therapists. One of the nice things about having my own practice is that I can "fire" clients. Too many people are accustomed to large corporations that will do anything for customers even when the customer acts inappropriately.

In the massage industry this can often create a very negative and stressful atmosphere for therapists. 

As the only therapist in our business, I have neither the luxury nor the desire to work with clients who have violated boundaries whether on the telephone or within the massage room itself. That means I only work in an environment that is mutually safe, supportive, and respectful for both myself and the client. 

Now that I have my own practice I really cannot imagine a therapeutic environment that lacks these crucial elements.