Involving Your Clients in Their Healing Process

By Don McCann , MA, LMT, LMHC, CSETT

Involving Your Clients in Their Healing Process

By Don McCann , MA, LMT, LMHC, CSETT

Keeping clients involved in their healing process can be challenging. Their minds can present many roadblocks to healing. Some of the most significant challenges are the morphogenic fields associated with diagnoses with their expected outcomes and progressions that are already perceived by clients and often believed as the only pathway that can be followed.

A Context for Healing

Clients also have other expectations, such as the "quick fix that lasts forever" and are only willing to give therapeutic massage and bodywork treatments a minimal amount of time to work. Another expectation is that since massage therapists are not doctors they can't really understand, evaluate, or provide therapy that will produce long term healing. Knowing that clients' minds hold roadblocks to healing, we as massage therapists need to work effectively so that they do not sabotage what is possible with our therapies. Even though massage therapists are not counselors we can create a context for our clients to heal.

This starts with taking a detailed history of the clients' physical conditions. This not only includes the most recent complaints or conditions, but also information on conditions and traumas from the past. Conditions that create weaknesses in the structure have been present since birth which can amplify the effects of injuries and other traumas through life experiences. Having clients shade in areas of pain and dysfunction in an outline of a body on the intake form will not only give you the massage therapist a better understanding of the severity and complexity of their complaints but also create a base line that clients can use to measure changes and healing.

Creating Wiggle Room

Creating wiggle room around the expectations and beliefs surrounding the diagnosis is also necessary. One of the most successful ways to do this is to bring the clients' awareness to their symptoms and focus on them. I want my clients to become "noticers." In other words, I want them to be able to describe quality of sensation, intensity, location, duration, frequency, mobility, function, when the condition began, what makes it worse, and does it ever change or disappear.

This helps clients step out of the confines of the diagnosis to a fluid changing concept of what is going on in their bodies. It also allows clients to observe what is changing and to embrace the changes as not only possible but also possibly lasting long term. This shifts clients' minds away from the diagnosis with set outcomes to observing a healing process. Clients love to see the positive changes and to see that their symptoms are improving and healing.

Pain Free Function

It is important for us as massage therapists to be able to evaluate the conditions of our clients after we shift their perspective to healing. Ninety percent of musculoskeletal issues of pain and dysfunction relate to structural imbalance, which is often with-in what is considered the normal range. A spiral twist exists within the body that is evident from birth which often has areas that worsen as life goes on.

This spiral twist, which I call the core distortion, can be evidenced in all bodies with specific areas that are more structurally imbalanced. These are usually the areas of most pain and dysfunction. Structural body reading will indicate the areas of significant imbalance, and it is important to relate these areas to the clients' pain and dysfunction. These are the areas to be released into balance and support in order to achieve long term rehabilitation and healing from pain and dysfunction.

If we do not release the imbalances that are creating pain and dysfunction then any relief will usually be short term because clients will use their bodies in ways that the structure matters (standing, sitting, walking, running, etc). This rehabilitation process can be observed by both the therapist and the client by having structural evaluations before treatment and after treatment in front of a mirror or pictures taken with the client's cell phone.

Before & After Evaluations

Structural, applied and functional kinesiology are evaluation skills that help tremendously in evaluating structure and the resulting weaknesses and dysfunctions that exist with structural imbalance. Clients with collapses in the core distortion, which are principle causes for musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, can be further evaluated with kinesiology.

This will actually test structural balance, muscle strength and range of motion. Structural kinesiology shows which muscles are weakened or over contracted associated with a structural imbalance. Applied kinesiology can be used to show structural balance or imbalance using muscle testing either of a specific muscle or therapy localization. Functional kinesiology tests the actual working strength of a muscle and will show significant weaknesses when there is more than a 15 degree imbalance.

Using all three before treatment to show the client where some of their pain and dysfunctions come from, and after treatment to show the positive changes within their bodies, helps the client step out of the morphogenic field of diagnosis into the fluid field of healing where observable and experiential changes occur. It also helps the therapist be accurate in their structural evaluations and to see how their treatments are producing structural changes that lead to healing.

Most physicians don't relate musculoskeletal problems to structural imbalance. So, being able to show and explain to your client the structural imbalances and changes that take place with good therapeutic massage and bodywork will help the client perceive you, the therapist, as knowledgeable and insightful in assessing and treating their painful conditions. With your support, and their awareness by being a "noticer," they will become deeply involved in their rehabilitation and healing for long term success in spite of their diagnosis. We will be perceived as facilitators of the long term healing process and experts in our field. Let's support our clients and attain our rightful recognition as health care providers.