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Massage Today
October, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 10

Transforming Your CranioSacral Practice

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC

Amy Lewis, LMT, CST, used to treat her CranioSacral practice the same way most hands-on therapists treat theirs: as a place for individual clients to relieve long-held patterns of stress and pain.

Each time she moved, from Hawaii to California to Nevada, she followed that model to fill her practice again and again and again.

Yet over the years, Amy couldn't ignore the nagging sensation that had been following her. While she loved facilitating hands-on sessions, she felt like a teacher and a change-agent at heart, one who yearned to help far more clients by teaching them how to align with their "healthy daily rhythms."

Do you, too, feel the call to do more and to be more than your CranioSacral practice allows? You can resist the urge, but you'll also restrict your impact in three essential ways:

  • How many people you can help.
  • How much income you can attract.
  • How much freedom you can enjoy.

This year, Amy made the leap from hands-on practitioner to holistic business owner. Follow her lead and you can also reach more clients than you ever have. How? By embracing these three essential keys.

Key #1: Uplevel Your Identity

woman getting massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark One of the biggest issues blocking therapists from expanding into a holistic business is how they look at themselves. Thoughts like, "I'm just a massage therapist," or "I'm just a bodyworker," groove neurological pathways in our brains that not only dictate how we think and feel about ourselves, but which actions we feel capable of taking. And our actions will either empower us or restrict us.

To uplevel your practice, it helps to uplevel your internal identity first. One easy way is to step into the shoes of your Inner Mentor. Mentors are people who inspire us by their actions, even when we're not consciously aware of it. By tapping into the memories of your favorite mentors, you can begin to see yourself in empowering new ways. Give it a try. Imagine someone you admire standing in front of you. Make the vision as vivid as you can. If it's black and white, change it to color. If it's fuzzy, make it clear. If it's far away, bring it front and center. Now take a few moments to appreciate the positive qualities you see in this person. Then, literally take a step forward until you're in your mentor's space and imagine aligning with all those qualities you respect.

By stepping into the shoes of your Inner Mentor, you ignite those characteristics and resources within you, because the psychological mechanism of "projection" works two ways. Just as we unconsciously project traits we don't like about ourselves onto other people, we also project our positive qualities that may feel a bit too big for us to step into. As Marianne Williamson wrote in her book, A Return to Love, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." When you use your Inner Mentors to illuminate yourself, you can see your potential from a much higher vantage point. And then you can more easily expand your practice along with your vision.

Key #2: Design Your Own Signature System

Years ago, Dr. John Upledger developed the 10-Step Protocol for facilitating a CranioSacral session. I once asked him what moved him to create it, expecting a complex response. Instead, he said simply, "Because therapists were asking for it." As it turns out, when he first started teaching cranial work to massage therapists in the 1980s, the concept was so new that he had a tough time convincing people to sign on. So he packaged his techniques into the 10-Step Protocol to make it easier to grasp. When therapists discovered they'd be learning a step-by-step system, they were suddenly able to see themselves practicing it and they began signing up. The Upledger Institute has gone on to train more than 100,000 therapists worldwide.

Even as a solo practitioner, you can inspire that same confidence when potential clients find out you have a step-by-step system for solving their health challenges. Why? Because people trust systems. When you have, for instance, a 3-step system for transforming pain, stress and discomfort into vibrant health, they relax. And why not? You come across as the healthcare expert who's got it all figured out. The best part is, you don't even need to create anything new; you already embody it your signature system. On some level, you already know the steps every one of your clients needs to take over a series of sessions to move out of the pain they're experiencing to the results they want instead. Some may move down the path faster than others. Yet essentially, they all need to go through the same steps to become pain- and stress-free. When you map out those steps, you have a system you can use as a framework to design creative new programs and products for your business.

Consider Dave Tomlinson, RMT, CST-D, a CranioSacral Therapy instructor. He loves working hands-on, yet he feels drawn to help people shift their out of their self-perceived limitations. So he's developing a signature system that uses CranioSacral therapy to transform his clients limiting beliefs. Jeannine Wiest, LMT, CST, is passionate about both CranioSacral Therapy and creative writing. So she crafted a signature system that uses the principles of light-touch techniques to help authors tap into their hidden resources so their writing flows with depth, clarity and ease. Now, in addition to her hands-on work, she facilitates group workshops at beautiful retreat centers, like California's Joshua Tree and Idyllwild Arts. So rather than offering more hands-on sessions, have some fun and design your own a signature system. Look at the arc of your favorite clients' therapeutic journey and the results they've achieved. Which steps did they need to take to get from where they were when they first came to see you to the outcomes they're enjoying now? Outline those steps and you have a body of work that can help elevate your practice to a business.

Key #3: Create a Variety of Programs, Products and Price Points

There's a big misconception in the cranial world that prevents all too many big-hearted therapists from making a generous living. That is, because CranioSacral Therapy uses such a light touch, you can easily work on five, six, even seven clients in a day. The reality? Cranial work is often an end-of-the-line modality for people who've been in serious pain, stress and dysfunction for years. One day you might be working on an adult with head, neck and back pain that's gone in a session or two. But other days it may be a little boy lost in autism. Or a teenage athlete sidelined by migraines. Or a woman whose body is wracked with fibromyalgia. Or a man who woke up one morning to find his face half paralyzed with Bell's palsy.

These cases can be intense. Doing too many in a day can eventually lead to exhaustion and burn-out. So rather than stretch yourself too thin trying to squeeze in more sessions, follow a sustainable business model that can take you where you want to be in five years, not just five months.

One simple way is to divide the steps of your signature system into a series of programs based on outcomes and results. Amy Lewis used her signature system to create 6-week and 6-month programs tailored to women struggling with one of four specific conditions:

  • Fibromylagia;
  • Migraines and Headaches;
  • TMJ Syndrome; and
  • Neck and Back Pain.

"I was tired of going session to session with clients rather than offering them something that represented a deeper commitment to their health," Amy said. And because each program is oriented to specific pain points and results, she's attracting new clients who appreciate her work and who stay with her a lot longer. They're investing in themselves through Amy's business in much healthier ways.

Like Amy, you too can create programs and products in a variety of formats and price points that more people can access, such as:

  • Monthly groups at your office.
  • Teleseminars and podcasts.
  • Home-health kits and courses.
  • Live workshops and events.
  • Ebooks, ecourses and more.

You are now able to tap into the value of leverage by serving more people in less time with less effort. Sound good to you? Then embrace these three essential keys and become a holistic business owner. When you uplevel your identity, design your signature system, and offer signature programs and products, you multiply your impact and your income. Then imagine who you get to be.

Click here for more information about Sharon Desjarlais, CC.


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