Throughout the last 15 years that I have provided massage therapy, my working style has evolved. I would be a very bored therapist if I hadn't...I likely wouldn't be in this line of work anymore!

In the earlier years, I tried my best to provide each client with the session that they expressed wanting--which early on, was intensely deep tissue, primarily on the back, because that's where they felt discomfort, and that's what they wanted.
After a couple years of that, I recognized that my client's tissues felt tighter by the end of the session, than when we started; even though they expressed enjoying that level of pressure, and wanted even more. I finally realized that I was potentially working on masochists, who wanted someone to hurt them...and that's not what I got into this trade for.

I refused to work on them at the intense level of pressure they requested; I changed my "style"...they moved on, and so did I; and then I gained new clients, who appreciated the work I was providing.

Over time, my technique shifted even more into the "lighter" end of the sprectrum, regarding pressure.

Myofascial release opened my eyes to the importance of respecting the fascia--even before it was commonly known that fascia is innervated, and not just the "packing tissue" that the medical arena had thought it to be.

I acknowledged that when fascia is torn through repeatedly, scar tissue develops in the area, increasing adhesions--the opposite of what I want to do, which is help loosen them.

Oncology massage training (2011) took my hands into the lightest pressure zone I had never realized, prior to; it reset my perception of pressure, and increased my respect and admiration for the efficacy and power of touch.

Through observation, practice, and time--and an analytical mind--my brain processed information, and in 2014, put out The Pressure Rainbow. This simple gauge for communicating pressure increased my awareness of how pressure affects my body/nervous system.

I acknowledged that for work to be most effective, we have to work WITH the nervous system, rather than against it--especially when deeper work is required.

When I returned to massage school for the Advanced Program at The Lauterstein-Conway School of Massage, I was gratified to realize that what I had figured out on my own, was indeed in line with current research; and the shift in how massage therapists approach bodywork.

Indeed, the nervous system is key.

If the nervous system operating the vessel doesn't acknowledge that the vessel is "safe," then the fascial network is engaged, like armor, to protect the body from invasion.

To effectively protect itself, the body's danger sensors/receptors (some still call them "pain" receptors) need to be turned up to a higher sensitivity, to feel the "breath of the saber tooth tiger" on its skin.

The increased pressure on those nerves, via fascial armoring, may eventually result in DESENSITIZATION, as the body copes to adapt to constant pressure on the danger receptors from an over-engaged fascial network.

Which, I believe, has led to the rise and vogue of  the current common perception of "Deep Tissue" massage.

People want the deeper work, because they can't "feel" it otherwise; and therapists somewhere along the way became convinced that "hurt" = "effective"...and then clients believe it, too...that if their session doesn't hurt, it wasn't effective. 

I'm not saying that there isn't a place for deep tissue applications; when addressing injury and/or chronic dysfunction, Orthopedic massage applications, that include deep tissue, are useful and beneficial--and not usually applied to the entire body--just to the sites that need that kind of attention.

Because of the respect and attention that I give each client's nervous system, I am rewarded by their results. Many clients express never having received a massage like mine, even though they've had regular therapy, from many different bodyworkers, over many years--and they like it. They may not necessarily understand why--but they feel the difference. 

When a new client says, "You can go deeper, I can take it," or "I'm used to it," I respond with, "Yes, I could go deeper, but I'm not going to go deeper than your body requires, and right now, I'm finding where the adhesions are so that I can address the areas that need it." 

Then they are so pleased when I go "right to the spot" where they're feeling discomfort...and they let me do the work.

By the end of the session, the client is relaxed and happy, often with a greater range of motion, and reduction (if not full cessation) of the discomfort they were experiencing. I feel gratified and rewarded by being able to help them feel better.

But that's not always the case...sometimes, we're just not a good match.

As a therapist, I want my clients to feel like they are getting more than their money's worth; if they are not satisfied, or didn't enjoy the session, then I don't feel good, either. I end up feeling like I shorted them in some way; but I didn't.

I know that I didn't, because I have regular clients who have been seeing me for years, who don't want any other MT's to work on them despite my encouragement for them to receive work from other practitioners, b/c we all provide different bodywork; I don't see it as competition...if anything, we are wellness partners, working together to support our client....

I'm not out to convince anyone or change their minds on what they think is right for their bodies; I want to work with compliant clients, who are seeking what I provide.

Because of the great emotional/psychological rewards that I receive from working on clients who are good "fit" for my hands/methods, it's very apparent when it isn't: during the session I feel lost, unsure what to do, bc my hands can't "read" their body; and by the end of the session I feel drained, perhaps because I was "trying" to hard to give them what they think they need, and failing to get there...because we're not a good fit. 

Even my body mechanics are affected, because I'm having to devote so much bandwidth to "figuring out" how to engage with their bodies, that my body mechanic awareness slacks off-- and that's with 12 years of mindful movement practice.

If I don't feel energized by our exchange, then I know it's not a good fit. Granted, sometimes my regulars can deplete me, if/when they are going through intense turmoil within their lives--which is temporary, and I'm happy to support them through that phase.  If I feel consistently depleted, vs energized, then I know that it's time to recommend they work with another therapist, and/or reduce the frequency of our sessions.

It's not my job to work on every body that pops into my sphere; sometimes it's my job to recognize when we're not compatible, which gives me the opportunity to kindly express my boundaries/limits. 

I'm so grateful for my steady base of regulars. Most folks, I only see once a month, because that maintains them well; others every two weeks, not because they "need" it, but because they appreciate how much better they feel/function when they receive more frequent work. 

I love how well the modalities I learned when I returned to school, in 2016, have integrated together in my toolbox. I'm able to use them in combination with each other, and as stand alone modalities, as needed.

Dermoneuromodulating (DNM) is especially effective on bodies that don't respond well to deeper modalities, due to an inflammatory response, or fascial recoil.

It's interesting to me, that some clients interpret DNM as "energy work," perhaps because it seems like I am holding my hands on them, like a faith healer or Reiki practitioner may; in fact, what I am aiming for is very slowly/gently introducing a lateral stretch to the cutaneous nerves, via skin stretch--which increases oxygen via blood-flow to sensory nerves that may be communicating "danger" signals to the nervous system, due to low O2 levels.

My "hot hands" perhaps support their belief that I'm doing energy work; but that is not my intention. My intention is to engage the nervous system in such a way that it registers "safe," so that protective mode can disengage, and the body/vessel may return to it's regular maintenance and support via its very own immune system.

Why my hands get hot? I don't know. They have since I was a child, which very directly guided me to massage. I started working on my friends at summer camp, when I was 11...but I remember the "hot hands" phenom as early as age 5...
Some people have expressed feeling what they consider energy work when I work on them.

I don't approach bodywork with that in mind; I perceive it as reminding each person/navigator's nervous system, via working with their vessel--through engaging with fascia and pressure sensing receptors, that the vessel is safe. I use the tools that I was given, and then built upon through practice and education. 

If people feel an added benefit of "energy work," I won't deny them that; indeed, my goal is to shift how each client's body uses its energetic resources--disengaging the protective response, so that the immune system has access to those resources. More than that...I don't claim.

In addition, there is the possibility that they are stimulating their own self-repair systems, through their perception of energy work. I certainly don't deny what a person is perceiving. 

What we perceive, is "real" to us--because it's real to our nervous systems. How we interpret the data coming in through our sensory pathways is affected by the state of the nervous system. 

That is why it is paramount, so utterly important: that we, massage therapists, assist each vessel that has been entrusted to our hands in returning to the "okay"/"safe" state.

Back to the point: seek compatibility.

Clients: if you don't love the bodywork you are receiving or don't feel like you are getting your "money's worth," then seek out another therapist. You may or may not tell the bodyworker it isn't a good fit--that's up to you.

Communication is best; they may have other modalities up their sleeves that may serve you better; or be able to recommend you to an MT who can provide the work you are seeking.

MTs: if it doesn't feel effortless and energizing, that person/body may not be a good match for your technique.

If you feel consistently drained during/after working on that client, then please, for both of your sakes, recommend them to another MT, or at least decide that your schedule doesn't have room for them in it. May it get filled with other bodies instead...and you have an "excuse" if you don't want to explain to them why you don't think y'all are a good match. 

Follow-up on the sessions that felt effortless--when those 90 minutes fly by, because you are working in the timelessness of flow. 

Otherwise, this work (as any work that doesn't engage a sense of timeless flow) may age you; and relatively quickly compared to other careers, because it can be such physically (and energetically) demanding work. Find your niche.

I love working on my clients. I look forward to our sessions; I look forward to catching up with them; I look forward to seeing their ongoing progress through life; I look forward to our silent meditations (massage); I look forward to our conversations; and I enjoy watching their children grow--grateful, because we serve as reflections for and to each other, thus we may better see ourselves.

If you don't like the reflection you see, seek another mirror. That applies to all interactions, not just client/therapist relations.

And always remember: kindness.

With kindness, we can express our boundaries, authentically, as transparently as possible.

If anyone takes offense to any statement that you deliver as KAT as you can, then acknowledge that it's not you; don't take their reaction personally.

Take it as an opportunity to practice holding Blue, Blue Green space, so that while your spheres are intersecting, they have a safe space to process whatever your expression of boundaries triggered. Or walk away. It's your choice.

It's all your choice.

Everything we do here is voluntary.

I propose, if that is the case, that we love what we are voluntarily doing here, and do it joyfully (even when it's uncomfortable--and how we perceive that discomfort may be voluntary, too--if you choose it.)

Yay! Choices!

I choose dancing buns.

Have you ever felt a bun dance?