Massage Today Get the Latest News FASTER - View Digital Editions Now!
Massage Today dotted line
dotted line

dotted line
Share |
  Forward PDF Version  

Holistic Wealth

By Sharon Desjarlais, CC

About the Columnist
Other Articles

One Intensive, Three Ways

As I stepped into the oversized treatment room, I saw four massage tables set up. Each one held a client surrounded by three to four therapists who were all holding their hands at strategic locations on the client's body. The only sound was the occasional murmur when the client's lead therapist instructed the others to change locations or hand positions.

This was the scene of the first intensive program I attended at The Upledger Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. in 1994. Developed for patients with traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, these programs would later expand to cater to adults and children struggling with a host of other challenges, from autism to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yet no matter what kind of challenge was being addressed, the structure of the program was fundamentally the same for everyone. In addition to round-table discussions between therapists, clients and their caregivers, each client received five to 10 days of what we called "multi-hands" Craniosacral Therapy sessions. That means each client had a lead therapist supported by several other therapists who essentially lent their hands (and their hearts) to the sessions.

It was a profound experience that was designed to help clients overcome a plateau in their healing process. But after years of working with Craniosacral Therapists and other integrative practitioners, one thing has become crystal clear: If you practice any kind of therapy that's outside of mainstream medicine, your clients have already hit a plateau before they ever call you.

That's why I teach therapists how to package their modalities into transformative programs that always start with an intensive experience. Whether they're called intensive programs, private retreats or deep-dive days, they generate a massive amount of healing momentum. Then all the therapeutic sessions that follow the intensive are capable of creating results that are more dramatic – and longer lasting – than the outcomes clients experience when they drop in for a session now and again.

Here are three creative ways to offer an intensive experience that gives your clients a big improvement in their health and well-being. While they don't all last a full day or take place at the beginning of a program, if you're ready to go deep with your clients, these will get your creative juices flowing.

Multiple Practitioners, One Client

Mary Quintero, LMT, CST, was inspired to offer intensive programs out of her own Craniosacral training.

"I noticed in cranial classes or study groups that when you're getting numerous multi-hands sessions, it takes your therapy to light speed," she said. "That's when I started thinking, what would happen if I offered this to my clients who are improving, but not fast enough for their liking? Or they're bumping up against a wall and they need a little extra something?"

So Mary started "playing with multi-hands" in her practice. She hires one or two other therapists to lend their hands to her clients a session at a time. "I ask the therapists what kind of symptomatology they're most excited to work with," she says. "Then I try to pair them up with who they're most passionate about helping."

Since she started offering these intensives, Mary's noticed that the clients who take part in them generally progress much faster than those who don't.

"That got me wondering what would happen if my clients came in multiple times a week for multi-hands sessions," she said. "Now that's taken off in my practice. I love watching how the sessions and my clients have changed. Their progress might speed up or take a completely different route. It's multifaceted."

Mary's intensive programs have been so successful, she's expanding the concept into five-day destination retreats. She's looking forward to hosting the first one in Costa Rica in 2017.

Multiple Practitioners, Multiple Clients

Katherine Macomber Millman, LMP, says the inspiration for her day-long retreat, which she calls The Healing Temple, came as a "download" when she was in meditation at the end of a yoga class.

"The structure came in its entirety. It's a highly choreographed event for 15 women where five healing practitioners are woven in through the day giving mini-sessions to each woman."

The practitioners range from bodyworkers – like craniosacral therapists and reflexologists – to those who focus on the mind and spirit. "We've had everything from Akashic Record readers to BodyTalk specialists."

While Katherine is beginning to create Healing Temples for women and men, she says the Temple was really a calling to create a container for women to be able to gather, to receive, to rest, to reflect, and to be seen.

"It's an opportunity to set it all down, to go within, to be in the presence of other women without having to be chatty, and to have the input of mind- and body-centered therapies to help catalyze her ability to hear her inner wisdom.

"These retreats really started for influencers. Women in the public eye. But she doesn't have to be a news anchor on ABC. She can be the kindergarten teacher. A charge nurse. Someone who's running for local office. Someone to whom people turn for direction, for wisdom, for guidance, for advice.

"In other words, someone who has a level of responsibility to other people that requires her to be 'on' in a way that someone more private, like a writer, might not need to be."

It's also for women who don't have the time or the space to get away for a week-long or 10-day retreat, or even a weekend retreat. "This is just one day," she said. "So anyone can do it."

Katherine originally hosted all her Healing Temples in Port Townsend, Washington. Now she's leading them at other beautiful locations in the Northwest. "Demand has been so high, I'm looking to collaborate with healers who want to gather their local practitioners and set up Healing Temples across North America."

One Therapist, One Client

Mary Grace Windsor, LMT, specializes in helping women find the power to change painful and draining relationships. Her one-day private retreats at her office in Dallas integrate hands-on bodywork and coaching with some of her favorite techniques to help each client experience a dramatic shift before going into a three-month program.

"Doing that retreat day up front really starts the breakthrough for them. Then when they do the further work in the program, so much of the foundation has already been laid," she said. "Their conscious and their subconscious are working together toward transformation. It's a very powerful beginning."

About a week before each client attends her private retreat day, Mary walks her through a visioning session by phone. "I guide her through a process that reveals the vision of the life she wants to live," Mary said, "because it may be very different than the life she's living now."

Then Mary kicks off the retreat by taking her client through self-discovery exercises, like one that reveals her personal needs and values. That's critical, said Mary, because what's really important to you isn't always what you think it is.

"I once did an exercise like this. And I honestly thought marriage would come out at the top of the list. Turns out it wasn't even on the list. And what was on the list was something I was ignoring: being a good role model for my daughters. I couldn't do that in my first marriage because of the way I was allowing myself to be treated. Seeing that contrast in black and white made it clear that something had to change."

After helping her client get in touch with what's most important to her, Mary takes her through other creative exercises and experiences designed to gently break down her old ideas. And let fresh inspiration in.

She leads her client in a crystal-bowl meditation where starts to bring her vision to life. Then she takes her through a hands-on session that combines Craniosacral Therapy and Reiki. And she ends the day with action steps that continue the transformation once her client is home again.

"The retreat is part of a sacred contract you have with that person," Mary said. "You set the intention and set aside the space and the time. It's a powerful message to both the client and the practitioner that this is the beginning of a big process. When someone's made the time available, that means they're ready for the change."


  1. Mary Quintero:
  2. Katherine Macomber Millman:
  3. Mary Grace Windsor:
dotted line