Washington, USA



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Create a 'container' for your massage practice


There are some esoteric terms that massage therapists are so familiar with that they don't even need explanation. "Are you grounded and centered?" When I ask that question, you know what I mean.


How about this question, "What kind of container have you created for your massage business?"


I first heard this term while working with shamanic practitioner and massage therapist, Katy Pavlis.


What imagery does the word container immediately bring to mind?


In the context of a massage practice, a container is how you define your boundaries, limitations and offerings. When we don't have clear containers, we may feel like our clients are taking advantage of us. It's a recipe for resentment and burn out.


When we set a container around our massage practice, it gives us and our clients freedom to create a healing experience within the confines of a safe, defined space.


In my mind there's the greater container which holds the entirety of your massage practice, and there's the individual containers that you place around each session which each client.


Here are some areas of your practice to consider when creating and setting your container. Of course, be open to changing what you want in there. Be intentional and purposeful - stating clearly for yourself what you want to offer and what you want to keep outside.


Setting: Determine what settings (places and spaces) you are willing to show up as your healer self and offer your gifts. I personally only offer massage in the context of my clinical treatment room. I don't do event massage anymore. I don't travel with my table to people's homes. That's part of how I contain my energy to provide healing.


Time: What days and times do you show up as your professional healer self? I'm not available whenever people need me. I have specific days that I'm in the office and make myself available only during those times. If there's an urgent situation, I do my best to direct my clients to other practitioners who can help them.


Appointments: Do you set appointments with start and end times? In my practice, clients have 90 minutes of face to face time with me. I don't offer 60 minute sessions, or 120  minute sessions. This is part of the container that I've created because it fits with what I want to offer and what I want to receive.


Modalities: Within your container, you can choose what you want to offer of your skills. In my practice, I offer compassionate listening, client education as well as hands-on interventions. I don't offer body wraps even though I know how to do them. When you decide what you are comfortable offering of yourself, add that to your container.


Personal Boundaries: When it comes to communication and relationship in your massage practice, it's important to be clear with yourself on what feels safe and healing so you can include that in your container. It's equally important to identify what doesn't feel safe so you can exclude that. I actually have very broad personal boundaries with my bodywork clients. I've gone to my clients' baby showers. I've invited clients to my house for brunch. I once spent a Saturday working in my client's garden because they were recovering from a shoulder surgery and feeling anxious about all their produce going to waste. Decide what kind of world you want to co-create with your clients that honors your personal boundaries.


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