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My View From Here

By Ralph Stephens, BS, LMT, NCTMB

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It's Time to Stop Being Needy

A wise man once said, "If I had $5 to start a business, I would put $4 into marketing and $1 into the business." You must acquire marketing skills to be successful, as you are always marketing. You are always selling yourself, your services, repeat appointments, products, whatever, for as long as you are a therapists, so get good at it sooner rather than later. Some therapists think that sales and marketing are unethical, dirty, beneath them, evil, greedy and all sorts of other negative connotations. This is unfortunate, as the only way to reach the people you want to help is to market to them in one form or another.

Not all marketing or sales tactics are unethical. It is up to you to chose the ones that are ethical and serve your needs. There are many great columns in Massage Today on marketing and I am not going to write another one on sales techniques. However, one thing I find very common in the general therapist population that holds them back from success is their "neediness," and that is what I want to discuss in this segment.

Often, therapists think they "need" patients. They inadvertently sabotage themselves by being needy. They think they "need" patients. They often do not have a goal other than to pay this month's bills.

please hire me - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark What to do if you actually need patients? First reframe that thought. Yes, you need patients but that is the wrong frame of thought to attract them. Neediness is not an attractive quality. Have you ever been shopping for something and the salesperson was obviously desperate to sell you something, anything? You can sense it on some level and odds are you just don't want to do business with them, even though you might want what they are selling. They are "creeping you out" over how badly they need to make a sale. Unless they are the only place in town that has that product, or you have to it have it at that very moment, you will likely not buy from them. You might go someplace else or come back at another time hoping that salesperson is not working then, right? Think about this when you think you "need" patients.

Your conceptual frame should be abundance. Everybody you meet needs a massage, they just might not be aware of it. Thus, you learn to move through the world in a way that does not put off your potential clients. When you need patients, think, "I am surrounded by billions of human beings who are all wired to be massaged. They love to be massaged and feel that pleasure or get that relief from pain."

So, do not think "I need patients, think "I AM a massage therapist and I have everything I need to attract patients." Begin to exert influence wherever you are and on whomever you are around. You will never lack patients if everyone around you is a potential client, open to you, needing your help, your services, and willing to trade value for your services, usually in the form of money.

Being needy is a conceptual trap. You can only be needy if you see yourself as being short on resources, on being resource poor. If you start out thinking, "I need this, I lack this," and add some anxiety (emotion) to it, you become desperate and that is not attractive. When you do this, you have just taken away a huge chunk of your personal power and you are communicating that basically you are not the kind of person they want to be dealing with, much less taking off their clothes and surrendering the most valuable possession they have, their body, to your hands. If instead, you move through the world believing, "I have so much to offer, this is going to be great, I am going to help so many people," and then looking to see who is most strongly responding to you now, you are never going to be short on patients. You are never going to be short on opportunities to learn and grow and practice ... and oh, by the way, when you have people responding to you in a positive manner, it will reinforce this belief!

You do not need patients; they need what you have. When you understand that, when you understand that you are only a few short steps away from helping anyone have a much better life, you'll never "need" a patient again and you'll find that your reality shifts and you are in a whole other world.

Extending Your Career

As I have mentioned in previous columns, massage therapists have a high occupational injury rate. Tappan writes in her book, Healing Massage Techniques, that there is an 80% dropout rate in the first two years, with one of the main reasons being the inadequacy of the human body of the therapist to perform the therapy as she was taught. So what is wrong with this picture? Here we are doing the career of our choice and yet if we do as we have been taught, it will most likely end our career in a very short time. Or, if it does not end it, it will certainly limit our ability to do it as a full-time occupation. How many massage therapists or bodyworkers have you personally known that had to reduce the number of appointments they used to do because of injuries to their thumbs, fingers, wrists and other body parts?

As I travel around the country and teach continuing education classes, it has become clear to me that many of the recent graduates of massage schools do not practice good body mechanics. When you consider just how high the injury rate is for massage therapists, it boggles my mind why the schools are not indoctrinating good body mechanics starting day one of their training programs. No one should be allowed to graduate from a massage school without being able to perform massages with good body form. With all of the new proposed standards and regulations for our industry, is this issue being seriously addressed?

Most of the traditional ways of doing massage like the deep stripping motions of effleurage and the gripping movements of petrissage seem to invite injury over the long term. Newly developed methods of getting rid of the trigger points and loosening muscles without hurting ourselves should be a part of the new curriculum in order to enable massage therapists and bodyworkers to enjoy a lifelong and viable career.

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