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Massage and body image march april 2009

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  • 1. fingertips for the client by Laurie ChanCe Smith Note to massage therapists: each issue of Massage & Bodywork coNtaiNs the columN fiNgertips for the clieNt, which is targeted to clieNts. this columN is available oNliNe at www.massageaNdbodywork.com as a priNtable file. priNt the faciNg page, attach your busiNess card, aNd seNd it home with clieNts, courtesy of associated bodywork & massage professioNals. 32 massage & bodywork march/april 2009
  • 2. Massage and Body IMage How much time do you spend Hutchinson suggests an exercise thinking about your body? Are the called “imaginal massage,” in which thoughts positive or negative? we visualize a massage occurring, with Body image can be affected by the healing hands of the therapist as tangible physical factors. In her a means of accepting our own bodies. book, Transforming Body Image This mind exercise can also be utilized (The Crossing Press, 1985), Dr. during massage sessions. Imagine the Marcia Hutchinson suggests body affirmative energy in the therapist’s image has little to do with the hands transferring to your body. physical body. “Image and reality A comfortable, professional are separate,” she says. And if body relationship with a massage therapist image is a product of the imagination, allows us the opportunity to experience Hutchinson proposes that it can also our bodies as acceptable. Caring touch be changed using the imagination. communicates safety and approval, The way we experience our boosting self-esteem and inner peace. physical self on the mental plane can “Healing is about learning, so become habitual and may generate trust your body’s signals and find out habitual patterns of muscle tension. what works for you,” writes Susan Regular Since regularly scheduled massage Mumford in Healing Massage (CICO, positively affects body and mind, 2007). Then ask your massage therapist massage massage can help us release physical and mental patterns of tension, for what is most helpful to you. “Your body is … a wonderfully encourages an enhancing our ability to experience our bodies (regardless of their shape intricate interaction with everything around you,” writes Dr. Eugene T. or size) in a more positive way. Gendlin in Focusing (The Guilford awareness of In Body Image: A Handbook of Press, 1998). “Your body ‘knows’ the Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice whole of each of your situations—vastly the body just as (The Guilford Press, 2004), massage therapy is named as a somatic more aspects of it than you can think. There is a kind of bodily awareness it enhances our (bodily) approach that is helpful in positively affecting body image “by that profoundly influences our lives and that can help us reach personal goals.” helping the client reconnect to the Learning to accept the body ability to relax. body in a very concrete manner.” (and its messages) is a continuous, Regular massage encourages an lifelong journey and regular awareness of the body just as it enhances massage is a way to practice body our ability to relax. During massage, reverence. Utilize bodywork we can experience the sensation of sessions to nurture the connection touch in a non-threatening way. between your body and mind and “Our experience of touch forms experience complete acceptance of an important foundation for our sense yourself exactly as you are. of self,” writes Thomas Pruzinsky in Body Images: Development, Deviance, and Laurie Chance smith is a Texas-based Change (The Guilford Press, 1990). writer and photographer who works for Since touch is a powerful method national and international markets on a of communication, “a change in plethora of topics. she can be reached one’s sense of self may be facilitated at lauriechancesmith@yahoo.com. through therapeutic touch.” for more information, visit massagetherapy.com 33

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