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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
through therapeutic touch.”
for more information, visit massagetherapy.com 33