Podcast

Episode 346

Apr 2, 2021

Allissa and Michael discuss evaluating and strengthening your boundaries in your massage business.

Listen to "E346: How to Rethink and Strengthen Boundaries in Your Massage Business" on Spreaker.
Image for E346: How to Rethink and Strengthen Boundaries in Your Massage Business

EPISODE 346

Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

  • How to Rethink and Strengthen Boundaries in Your Massage Business

Quick Tips

Sponsors


Transcript: 

Sponsor message:

This episode is sponsored by the Original Jojoba Company. I firmly believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products because our clients deserve it, and our own bodies deserve it. I have been using Jojoba for years and here's why, Jojoba is non-allergenic, I can use it on any client and every client without fear of an allergic reaction, it is also non-comedogenic so it won't clog pores. So if you've got clients prone to acne breakouts, Jojoba is a good choice for them. It does not go rancid, there's no triglycerides, so it can sit on your shelf for a year plus and not be a problem. And that's what also makes Jojoba a wonderful carrier for your essential oils as well. It won't stay in your 100% cotton sheets, so your linens are going to last longer. The Original Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure first press quality Jojoba, and we are delighted to be their partner. You my friends, can get 20% off the price of the product when you shop through our link, MassageBusinessBlueprint.com/Jojoba.

Michael Reynolds:

Hey everyone, welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint Podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines:

I'm Alissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds:

We're your hosts. Welcome, we're glad you're here. Aren't we?

Allissa Haines:

We are. We are indeed. Michael might be glad, but I am also glad.

Michael Reynolds:

We're both glad, very glad. What are you reading?

Allissa Haines:

So this week, it's a little continuation of what we talked about in the roundup last week. I just read ABMP's where do we go from here post. And I will link to it in the show notes, it's on their website in their blog, where President Les Sweeney and of course this was my guests thoughts from the whole team at ABMP because they really do operate as a team. But Les's statement, an elongated statement on what's going on in the massage world in regards to violence against Asians and that crossover between massage and sex work. And just as it came out, I had also realized and was emailing Les, because Les than I both neglected to include, last week when I talked about this issue and then again, in ABMP's letter, Les and I both neglected to include the side note of what we need to talk about in regards to massage, which is that there are plenty of actual, legitimate, licensed massage therapists who are also doing sex work.

Allissa Haines:

And we talk about fake massage therapists doing sex work, we talk about these massage establishments being run either with all the proper licensure or without, and calling it massage but actually providing sex work. But we haven't really focused much on what's going on inside the profession with actual legit licensed therapists who also do sex work. And we all probably know someone who is doing it, off the top of my head I know a few. But it's a real problem that we don't know how to solve, I certainly don't, and I hate pointing out problems when I have no resolution or ideas for solving them. But I don't know how do we report our colleagues and it does it matter? We really only know about these things from hearsay because these aren't the kinds of establishments that are advertising on rub maps or getting reviews on the websites that review sex work establishments.

Allissa Haines:

So it's really, it's a problem, I don't have a solution to it, but I wanted to make sure I made note that I left that out of my thoughts last week and I don't know why, and I'm sorry. But I do want to point out ABMP has got this where do we go from here, is really interesting, it really focuses on how ABMP is working with government relations in various states, because they really feel like a better licensure and regulation and licensure regulation that does not provide a huge obstacle for legit massage therapists. They seem to feel that that's the best option, they really focus on better enforcement of those licensure and regulations and harsher penalties, not for the sex workers themselves, but for the pimps essentially, people running these establishments, which would help certainly with the human trafficking issues, and also with the presence of sex work under the guise of massage.

Allissa Haines:

They did note, and this is a thing I really disagree with about enforcement and my feeling is that we need to just advocate for the decriminalization of sex work. But I also understand that a major organization may not be able to take the stand that sex work should be decriminalized, I don't know the word. And I get that, that's a controversial thing to think in some areas. Now, in my very liberal community, with my more progressive colleagues, we all just think that off the top of our heads. I understand that sex work itself carries a great load of, for many people moral and religious issues and I get that a major org can't just be like, "Why should decriminalize sex work."

Allissa Haines:

So ABMP's focus on better enforcements and harsher penalties, I think that makes sense but everyone should read it for themselves. And Les said to me in our exchange and I hope he's okay with me sharing this, because he had a really great point where he was like, "If you could wave a magic wand, what would you do to fix this?" And I don't have an answer and he knows I don't have an answer, and I know he knows I don't have an answer, and we all need to do some thinking because I don't know either. But we do need to keep thinking about it. So that is what I have read this week. Michael, what have you been reading?

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah. So a little bit of potential good news I have been reading about, I want to share. Two articles about the COVID vaccine. One is that the Pfizer vaccine supposedly is 100% effective against adolescents aged 12 to 15. It's still early, obviously there's stuff to go through and peer reviews and everything. But the early indications seems to be that the vaccine is incredibly effective, even more so in adolescents than in adults. So this seems to be potentially good news toward the vaccine becoming safe and available for kids. So that's a really good thing, that'll help us get to herd immunity much faster. So that is reported in multiple places, the article I'm linking to is from the New York times.

Michael Reynolds:

And the second article on the COVID vaccine is that there's also early evidence that the vaccine is likely effective against variants. The study, let's see where is the study from, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, apparently it provided quote, strong evidence that the coronavirus vaccines will stand up against the new variants. So again, obviously we still need to be vigilant, yes, yes we're not out of the woods yet, still some time. But, and these are early indications, so we don't have the full story yet. But it's nice to see that there seems to be initial potential for good news against the variants and good news when it comes to kids, so I was happy to see that.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. I read that too. And I was pretty gosh darn excited.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

Did you have a second thing?

Michael Reynolds:

Those were the two things.

Allissa Haines:

Oh, those were, sorry, sorry, sorry.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah. That was two.

Allissa Haines:

Right, brain fried, I was thinking to myself about how I read that one about adolescents and got really excited.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah, yeah.

Allissa Haines:

So who's our first sponsor, Michael?

Michael Reynolds:

Our friends at ABMP.

Allissa Haines:

Well who knew?

Michael Reynolds:

[Crosstalk 00:07:57] ABMP, again.

Allissa Haines:

Thanks ABMP for being our sponsor, they have CE courses you will love available for purchase or included for free with membership at the ABMP Education Center. You can find that at ABMP.com/CE. You can explore hands-on techniques, complete ethics requirements, discover trending courses like a detailed approach to low back pain from Alison Denny, who also has a new podcast series with them and it's fantastic. All ABMP memberships include 200 plus video based on-demand CE classes. If you're not a member don't fret, you can purchase access for a single course or a CE package, it's a good deal, again at ABMP.com/CE. And if you want more, you can listen to the podcast, ABMP.com/podcasts or wherever you prefer to listen. It's just really good information and you don't have to be a member to access the podcast, anyone can listen and you should totally go do that.

Allissa Haines:

Okay.

Michael Reynolds:

Okay.

Allissa Haines:

We have a topic today and it has nothing to do with COVID, yay.

Michael Reynolds:

We do. Oh, nice.

Allissa Haines:

Isn't that a nice change.

Michael Reynolds:

How about that?

Allissa Haines:

So we're going to talk about boundaries and how to walk back and what to think about if you feel like your boundaries have gotten a little too permeable or a little too loose within your massage business. And this is something as I kind of go back to practice and rebuild my business, I have really been thinking about a lot, the errors I have made with client relationships and boundaries over the last 16 plus years, what errors I'm likely to make in the future, and how I want to readjust.

Allissa Haines:

Because I definitely have found over time that with clients who I've known for a long time, and who are really familiar, sometimes it happens that we chat all the way through their massage and I've done that without thinking and without making sure that's the massage they want, or I find myself kind of in an auto mode where I am repeating patterns that may not be in the best interest of my client, depending on how their needs may have changed.

Allissa Haines:

So this happens, it's a thing that can happen over time, it can happen because when you first started in your work, you didn't have the experience with client relationships and boundaries, so you made a lot of mistakes and it's hard to go back. So for me, what I found is this fresh start approach, and again for me, I moved offices. I shut down, I closed my office, I opened a new office that's in a different location, it's in a different area, it's a few towns over. And so that has allowed me to really cull my client herd.

Allissa Haines:

But I still have found that some of the clients that are coming back to me are clients where I didn't have the best boundaries in place, and that may have affected their treatment or impeded our progress, or have resulted in them just not getting the best of my massage services. So changing location and the shutdown and everything gave me a really good opportunity to rebuild and rethink. I've got all new intake forms. I've got a new menu of services. I changed my pricing a little bit. So that fresh start was a really good time for me to examine all of this. For you, you might have to kind of assign an arbitrary date. If you didn't update all your forms and stuff, maybe now is a good time to do that. And if you don't need to make any of those foundational changes to your business, then you only need to focus on the less tangible stuff that we're going to talk about.

Allissa Haines:

So the first step for me was really thinking about my boundary weaknesses, and I wrote them down, I actually wrote them down. And some of these examples are me and some of them are just common to other massage therapists that I know of. So talking about clients and not even necessarily specifically, but we just had a privacy column, one of our recent ABMP columns was all about being really vigilant about confidentiality. And the thing I struggle with most is coming home and somebody is like, how was your day? And I'm like, great. And it even happened the other day where, I was like, "Oh, I saw my client that has this kind of cancer and they're really progressing and it's really wonderful." That's not something I should be sharing with my partner at home or discussing at the dinner table.

Allissa Haines:

Even though it's not like that contains any identifiable information, the reality is it kind of does because he knows that my friend's aunt has this kind of cancer and he also knows that my friend's aunt comes to see me as a client, and it doesn't take that much to put it together. So I am working really hard on making sure that I have a colleague that I can vent clients related stuff to so that I'm not accidentally sharing more information than I should at home. So that's a thing, talking about clients in my everyday life.

Allissa Haines:

It's hard, we all go through this stage early in our careers and for some of us it continues where someone's like, "Someone has scoliosis," or blah, blah, blah. And you'd be like, "Oh, I have a client who has scoliosis." Or, "I have a client who's a family attorney." Or, "I have a client who-." We need to stop saying that, we need to stop. Especially if you're in a small town and there's only like one family attorney, you can't be like, "I have a client who's a family attorney." Because immediately everyone's going to know who that is. So we have to be more thoughtful in our speech, even when we think it is super vague. I struggle with this, it's probably the primary thing I struggle with and I'm working on it.

Allissa Haines:

So the second thing is sharing too much of our own personal information with clients. And we really do have to look at why this happens. And it happens accidentally, like a client says how are you? And you can be like, "Good, my kid started kindergarten." But now you've introduced this topic of your child. And they're going to ask about your kid because they might feel like they're being rude if they don't, or they're going to talk about their kid and you're going to start comparing parenting tips. And now you have created this relationship completely outside of massage, but that relationship could be kind of overlapping with their treatments and does that mean you're not giving the best massage? Or what if they say something like how they spank their kid and you're super against spanking, is that going to change the way you feel about this client?

Allissa Haines:

So sharing your personal information with clients, why are you doing this? Are you doing this? Because you feel like you're just being friendly? Are you doing because you're co-dependent on your work and you don't have enough friends to talk to? And I will tell you the first few clients I had, like mid pandemic, when I went back to work, oh my god, we all chatted like crazy because we were just so excited to have somebody new to talk to, but I realized that's what it was acknowledged it, and in the middle of a treatment, I went, "Oh my gosh, I realized I've just been talking this whole time. I'm just so excited to have someone that I'm not related to to talk to. I'm so sorry." And my client was like, "Yeah, I live alone. I'm doing the same thing right now. We're just going to be okay with it for this treatment." And we were, we chatted the whole time. It was fine, she got a good massage.

Allissa Haines:

And then the next time they came in, we did not talk at all. And I made a very conscious effort to not talk at all, to only speak when it was relevant and important to the massage. So notice that this thing, this is going to happen a little bit right now and it's okay. But acknowledge it and acknowledge it with the client so they're aware what's going on too. So why are you chatting with clients? Outside of post pandemic craziness. Are you codependent on your work? Do you depend on your work and your clients to provide comforting relationships in your life? Because that's a problem. We cannot depend on clients for anything other than showing up for their appointment, paying for their appointment and being a decent human while we're they're there, and sometimes not even that.

Allissa Haines:

So if you are lacking in other personal and social relationships, that could be a reason why you're talking with your clients too much and sharing too much, or even anything about your personal life. Are you lacking a colleague or mentor to talk to? if you have a client who is a physical therapist and you start talking to them about some of your other clients and the treatment for whatever, hip dysfunction, that's an issue, right? Because now you're using your client's time to discuss treatment plans for other clients, you might be lacking a colleague or mentor to talk to and to vent with about clients that you might have issues with or to share happy stories and successes about our clients.

Allissa Haines:

So if you're talking to clients about your work outside of treating them, then that's an issue. Are you lacking a social circle? And this is kind of what we covered already. Do you not have enough friends to hang out with so that you are craving human interaction at work from clients who really are not there to provide you with that particular interaction? Are you sharing life experiences that in the context of being a massage provider could be considered advice outside of your scope and outside of what is ethical for you to be talking about in the massage room?

Allissa Haines:

Again, let's say I have been married and I have been divorced. I have been a step-parent in a couple of different situations, and so when someone shares with me that they're super stressed and anxious because they're in a blended family situation and they're struggling, it is my first instinct to hear what's going on and share resources that were helpful for me as a step-parent in a difficult, a tough blended family situation. That's really not my job, nor my scope when I'm in the massage room with someone. So I have to be really, really careful of that. Now I am a human being and I have a therapeutic relationship with this client. And so after their massage, I might be able to say, "Hey, I know of a step parenting book or website or whatever that I have found very helpful, I'm just going to email you a link to that. I can't, I can't talk you through this the way a mental health provider could or family therapist could, but I'm just going to drop you an email to that link."

Allissa Haines:

You can still be a helpful resource while being really mindful of how you use your time in the massage room and accidentally moving out of your scope. And I say accidentally, all of these things that we might do that are pushing some boundaries or making them a little too permeable. All of these things come from good intent. We want to have good relationships with our clients. We want to help them with all of the things that they are struggling with. There is good intent here, but it doesn't make it right.

Allissa Haines:

So how do we walk this back if we've been oversharing or violating these boundaries in one way or another? We really have to rewrite our scripts and deflect and practice. So when someone asks you how your kid is, give the shortest, vaguest answer. "They're back in school, they're doing really well." And then let it drop. Do not share more, let there be silence. Because in that silence, it is likely that client will move into a space of quiet once they realize that you're not going to overshare. And what if they keep asking questions? It is okay to say, "You know what I have realized? Is when we're chatting, you are not getting the best massage I can give. I want to try to not chat so much this session and see if that changes how you feel at the end of the massage."

Allissa Haines:

Now for some clients, and I want to add this caveat because otherwise I get five emails, some clients, especially if they come in with anxiety, the first few visits are often they need to chat to feel comfortable. They need to chat to get to know you a little bit more so they feel comfortable in this environment enough to let go. But especially if you're treating anxiety or if you have a client who's always been very chatty, see if you can gently change that dynamic and see if their treatment improves. Lost my place in my notes, because I got really excited. So also to deflect violating confidentiality accidentally with good intent. And when someone says, "How is work?" Or, "Have you had a client with XYZ?" Find ways to answer that are not specific. And even if you think something's pretty vague, make it even vaguer.

Allissa Haines:

Rewriting your scripts to stop giving advice, to refer out. And so that when someone's like, "Yeah, so then my husband does this. What do you think of that?" How do I respond to that? I would say that to rewrite the script, you take a deep breath and you say, "Yeah, that's a tough one. If you want, I can help find you a resource for a family therapist or a marriage counselor." Say, "I don't know." If someone he asks you specifically for advice that's something that's not very specifically massage related. Just say, "I don't really know, that is so not my specialty or my scope. Let me see if I can find a resource for you."

Allissa Haines:

It's really hard to do this, I'm saying all of these things as if it's super easy to like write this down once and practice it in a mirror and then do it. It's really hard, this is going to be a process. But to deflect sharing your personal stuff, deflect accidentally violating confidentiality. If someone's like, "Hey, I bought my mom a gift certificate. Did she use it yet?" How do you deflect that? You have to be open and clear and say, "That's a good question to ask your mom." That's it. You don't have to say whether she's been in or not. You don't have to acknowledge or give that information.

Allissa Haines:

So write your scripts, deflect, I understand it's hard. I'm not just saying you're going to do this in one afternoon, this is a process. Our therapeutic relationships and refining them and improving them and improving our own behavior is a process. And for me, finally, the last thing I've really needed to do is identify my dual relationships, and I have plenty of them. And there are plenty of massage educators who will tell you that you just should not have dual relationships. You should not massage your cousin, and you should not massage your CPA, or you should not have a client who because of shared interests or issues becomes a friend.

Allissa Haines:

And I will tell you, I think that when people give instruction like that in black or white, I think it's wrong and I think it's lazy. Life is going to happen, we will end up with dual relationships with some of our clients. They are not all appropriate and correct, some of them are really bad. But if you are willing to think through how it affects your massage treatment, it can be done well. So identify those dual relationships and be mindful of boundaries and various roles. I have a client who became a very good friend, she's one of my best friends now. But when she walks into my massage office, she has always been a client. And there were a few times where we caught ourselves catching up as friends during her massage and I recognized that, and I said, "This is ridiculous. We're just not going and hanging out often enough. I'm not talking any more during your massage." Because she's paying me for that time, and that was really hard to do and I think it took me too long to notice it. But again, this isn't evolution, I'm learning.

Allissa Haines:

I'm sure by year 40 of my career, I might be a little closer to getting this right, but be really aware of the boundaries and of the people who have various roles in your life and what they are there for on your table versus what your friend is there for when you're having coffee. So that's it, that's what I have. There's no magic here, but I know a lot of people have been thinking about this because I've seen conversations online about it. It's been a thing I've talked to a few of my peer mentors about lately. How to strengthen your boundaries, boundary issues are going to happen. Think about your weaknesses, rewrite your scripts, actually write it down if you have to and really identify your dual relationships so you can identify and work through any issues that you're having in them.

Allissa Haines:

And a lot of this work happens, most of this work happens internally. It's not even something you need to say out loud to a client or even someone you have a dual relationship, you just have to start gently and forcing these boundaries in a way that prioritizes the therapeutic relationship and their care when they're on your table. I'm really done now, Michael.

Michael Reynolds:

No, really good stuff. Thank you.

Allissa Haines:

Thank you, it's an issue I struggle with daily.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Well, I have a cool segue for you. Let's talk about our next sponsor. Who also helps you maintain boundaries, Acuity.

Allissa Haines:

It's true, thanks Acuity. They're the scheduling assistant that makes it easy to run a brick and mortar business as well as virtual businesses. They work behind the scenes to fill your calendar 24/7. And yes, as Michael referred to this is really helpful with boundaries because if someone I've known for years is like, "Oh my God, I think I pinched a nerve in my neck. I need to see you." And I'm like, "I don't want to stay late." I can say, "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. Here's a link to my schedule. You can see the next available appointment." And I don't have to make exceptions for them or get into a whole thing and have a conversation with them where they're like, "Well, could you stay late?" Because they're just going to see my next available appointment.

Allissa Haines:

So yay, from moment clients book with you, Acuity is there to automatically send them confirmations and reminders in your own brand and with your own voice, all kinds of customizable. And it lets clients reschedule on their own and process payments online so everything just runs smoother. You, my friends can get a special 45 day free offer when you sign up today, check it out at MassageBusinessBlueprint.com/Acuity.

Michael Reynolds:

All right, quick tips.

Allissa Haines:

You go first.

Michael Reynolds:

Okay. So I just want to share that I got my first massage last month in over a year and I couldn't believe it had been so long, obviously because hashtag pandemic, but I was like, okay, I'm going to go get a massage. I'm going to enjoy it. I'm going to look forward to this. And it was amazing. I could not believe how much I missed getting massaged. I feel silly saying this like out loud, but I was almost in tears I was so happy that I was getting a massage, I felt just so amazing. It was just, I missed it so much, my body felt better obviously. And so I just wanted to share that and just say, your clients need you. If they're anything like me, they really need you. So everyone's in different places with their comfort level and going back to work, et cetera.

Michael Reynolds:

So this is not like one size fits all, but if you think you're ready to get back to work and you're struggling with all the head trash around probably getting back to work that is too much to go into right now, if you're struggling with any of that, if it helps to hear this, your clients likely really, really need you and really want to get massage again. So I just want to share that and just share my experience. And I was so happy.

Allissa Haines:

That's so nice.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

And that is definitely the feeling I have been getting at work as well. Now I have a handful of clients I haven't seen in a year, they're finally vaccinated, they're coming in, and it is just a magical experience. It's almost like giving someone their very first massage ever, and having them just love it, only it's even better because they're remembering how much they love it. And you're remembering how good this work is for people, which sometimes gets lost when you see people so frequently and you just become part of their regular care. You kind of forget how magical it is. So anyhow, yay. That was a really nice thing to share, Michael.

Allissa Haines:

Okay. So my thing is wacky because it came up in a conversation with a friend who was saying how she kind of tones down her speech when she's dealing with some colleagues. Now she says things like, "I know it's just me and I'm really intense about this stuff," or blah, blah, blah. And I was like, "No, stop like, talking down yourself as if to make that as an excuse why someone needs to follow a darn rule. Stop doing that." Which is ridiculous because people get to decide how they interact with people without me getting in the way. But literally an hour later, an article link, which the article is actually a couple of years old, but it came up in my Twitter feed, and it is three business women on how they learned to stop being self-deprecating at work.

Allissa Haines:

And we've seen this in emails where women add things like, "Well maybe do you think that blah, blah, blah," or, "This might just be my perspective, but blah-blah-blah." We kneecap ourselves all the time. We moderate our speech so as to not come off too assertive because if women are too assertive, they're aggressive. So I, there have certainly been times and especially when I'm feeling like a little bit intimidated or a little bit nervous where I do this all the time. And also because I am a woman who has been outspoken and publicly so, and recorded in written word, I get a lot of crap about how aggressive I am and even from women, because internalized misogyny is a hell of a drug, people. Like even women don't like it when other women are assertive. And also sometimes I'm just a jerk, so I'll own that. But again, see, I just did that. I had to qualify it by saying, "No, I am a jerk sometimes." But we are super tough on strong women.

Allissa Haines:

And many of us are coming around and many of us are working on our own internalized misogyny and instinctual reactions to assertive women, but just know women friends, it's okay if you don't moderate your speech so as to make the other person most comfortable, it's okay to say, "You know what? We have a written protocol in this office and it does require that you do X, Y, Z. Are you going to be able to do that moving forward?" Period. You don't have to moderate that with, "You know I'm really specific about lists and I'm a little anal retentive about safety. So can you just make sure that you're checking off that list before you leave the office at night and that you were actually doing those things?" No, no, you don't have to make it your fault that somebody else isn't doing their crap.

Allissa Haines:

So anyhow, link to the article in the show notes and don't knee cap your speech ladies, you are smart and strong and business owners and own it. And if somebody thinks you're, I don't want to say the word, but you know the word that starts with B, I don't want this to have an explicit thing in this episode. If someone thinks that, then that's on them, move along. Okay I'm done.

Michael Reynolds:

Right on. Thank you.

Allissa Haines:

Thank you for being a dude who has learned to be comfortable with my assertive tone, Michael, even though I scare you sometimes.

Michael Reynolds:

You're welcome. All right. Well, hey everyone thanks for joining us today. As always, you probably know where to find us. It's MassageBusinessBlueprint.com. If you're a premium member, then we'll see you on the inside as always. But if not and you want to check us out, you've heard us talk about it, you get 30 days free, you can go to MassageBusinessBlueprint.com, click on community and try us and join the smartest online community of massage therapists in the world. I can confidently say that because I'm pretty sure it's true. So if you'd like to email us, the email address is Podcast@MassageBusinessBlueprint.com. Have a great day. We will see you next time.

Allissa Haines:

Bye

Logo for PocketSuite
Logo for ABMP
Logo for Jojoba
Logo for Yomassage
Logo for Pure Pro Massage Products
Logo for Acuity