Listening to what your client says and really understanding where they are coming from is probably half the process of healing. When a client perceives
that someone is really listening from their heart, they can more easily
acknowledge their pain and issues. Everything we need to know about how to take
care of ourselves and eliminate pain from our bodies is inside of us. You can
talk to the client about what you may think they need to do, but true healing
takes place when the client discovers what they need to do for
Active listening is one way to honor this process. Active listening
empowers clients to know that they are already whole even with whatever injury,
disease or condition that they come in with.
Some keys to active listening include:
An example of this is
a story someone emailed to me after the last newsletter.
"My experience of being worked on by a woman my age or older:
Practitioner: "At your age you are probably experiencing all the symptoms of menopause."
Client (me): "No, I'm not menopausal. Everything's still like it always
Practitioner: "Well, at your age you will soon begin to experience all the symptoms of menopause."
Client: "Well, for now everything is still like it always was. And I don't see why I should agonize over things before they happen. It will
happen when it happens. Why make my life a misery over it before then?"
Practitioner: "Ah, the wisdom of old age. You're probably already beginning to experience all the little aches and pains of old age."
Client: "No, I have no aches or pains. I'm perfectly fit, in fact I'm running a 10km race on Sunday."
Practitioner: "Ahh, that's very brave at your age."
Client: (Just a silent, inner SCREEEAM)
Then the practitioner started going on about the "stiffness" in my
hands. I've never felt any stiffness in my hands!! Now I felt incipient panic.
For how long will I still be able to play the guitar? For how long will I still be able to hike on the mountain? How long do I have left to
Yes, perhaps a lesson in learning to relax while being put under stress,
learning "grace under pressure," so to speak, but that was not
what I paid for! Perhaps she meant well, trying for empathy, but surely step
one in empathy is to listen.
This is a clear example of not actively listening. The therapist was not listening to the client and was "pushing" her opinion (most likely
based on her own experiences) onto the client.
You can add your own "horror stories" in the comments section of the weblog
or on the bulletin
To learn more about active listening and how to
incorporate it into your practice, I highly recommend finding a supervisor
or starting a peer supervision group where you can explore these issues with
others who are most likely challenged by this themselves.
I have started a website, www.massagepracticebuilder.com
for just that purpose. www.massagepracticebuilder.com
members will learn more about active listening by starting and participating in
their own peer supervision groups and by hiring me as
[ Finding a Supervisor for your Massage Practice ] [ Supervision Defined ] [ The Need for Supervision in Massage and Bodywork ] [ Active Listening ]