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Meditation of Touching

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Meditation of Touching

Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash
Photo by Levi XU

In the course of my training as a yoga therapist I have learned a fair amount of new information about pain, stress management, and relaxation. With these new skills under my belt, my massage therapy goals have changed.

I can particularly see this in the massage therapy education that I pass on to staff and students. The techniques stay the same but the application and information changes.

Right now I am particularly focused on a return to fundamentals like ‘rate and rhythm’, something I think is often overlooked. It sounds like a weird thing for someone with “orthopedic massage’ in their title to be grooving over rate and rhythm. Most people would assume I would be filling my treatments with what some refer to as ‘advanced massage techniques’. They are, in limited doses, if appropriate, but mostly we are trying to make a nice pattern in a larger sequence.

It is one of the ways I am trying to tap into interacting with the nervous system. Brains like to know what happens next so predictable patterning makes them happy. At the very least they are not wasting time trying to figure out what is coming next…and that stillness of mind is very valuable.

If you’re into meditation, there is a very well known technique called a body scan. That mediation is specific to relaxing the body and putting people into a deep relaxed state. It uses a pattern that goes something like this:

‘Focus on the tip of your thumb, let the thumb get heavy, let it go. Focus on all the fingers, let the fingers get heavy, let it go. Focus on the palm of the hand, let the palm get heavy, let it go. Focus on the whole hand, let the whole hand get heavy, let it go. Focus on the forearm, let the forearm get heavy, let it go. Now focus on the hand and the forearm, let them both get heavy, let it go.’

It goes on to cover the whole body in that manner, repeating patterns. If you’re a massage therapist, that pattern might ring a few bells for you. It is pretty similar to the concepts of ‘general, specific, general’ and ‘distal, proximal, distal’. A well-formed patterned massage is running through a body scan of touch.

If you have properly controlled your space for someone, and created a safe place to relax and focus on the sensory experience at hand, you may be guiding them into a meditative state. That is an odd thing considering most scopes of practice deal primarily with muscles and skin rather than the nervous system.

Is that all that massage is? Of course not, massage covers a lot of areas in what people are ‘doing’ in treatment, but it is one of the many things you can do provided you do it well. If this all sounds super-strange to you, you you can listen to this 6 min body scan as an example.

Five Things Your New York State Massage Therapist Should be Doing for You

We have put together the top 5 things your New York State Massage Therapist, should be doing for you but may not be….

This blog post is specific to New York State Massage Therapy, but in any state that see’s massage therapy as a licensed medical profession, these may apply. We put together this list of important bullet points in order to educate the public about their rights. Massage therapist undergo training in order to become professionals, but the public is often unaware of what that training is or what their rights are. So here it goes, here are our top five things your New York State licensed Massage Therapist should be doing for you.

1. Giving you a full consent before you are treated or assessed

What is consent you ask? It is your agreement to the treatment, assessment, or procedure that is about to be performed. It can be both verbal and written. Consent can cover the type of treatment for massage (for example: trigger point therapy, stretching, or Swedish massage), how it is performed, what products or tools may be used (for example lotions or graston tools), and even as far as what smells you might encounter. The bottom line is, you have full control over what happens to you, even if you have not been made aware of it. What does this mean for you in real time? At the very least you should be looking for a Massage Therapist who gives you a rundown of what they are going to do before they do it, a little snapshot so to speak. This rundown, not only keeps you safe but also ends up in making you happier over all with your massage because you can actually relax.

2. Protecting your right to privacy

In New York state, Massage Therapists are considered Medical Professionals. They are required by law to protect your privacy. If you find your therapist is particularly chatty about their other patients, it may be time to move on.

The New York State Massage law reads as follows:Massage therapists will safeguard the confidentiality of all patient/client information, including patient/client records, unless disclosure is required by law or court order. Any situation which requires the revelation of confidential information should be clearly delineated in records of massage therapists.

3. You have the full right to refuse, modify, or change the treatment at any time. 

Ever have the feeling you have made a terrible mistake, part way through something? It happens, even with massage. It is totally ok to stop once you start. Individual clinics may have policy’s on if you will pay or not based on stopping treatment so you may want to check, but generally if you encounter a medical problem, such as feeling dizzy, we waive all fees at our clinic. Fee aside, you can always simply stop regardless of the situation. If you just think that it is not working out, you can always change the plan too. If your therapists pressure is not right, tell them…or redirect the treatment entirely so it works on what you just figured out you want. A 30 minute back massage can easily become a 25 minute foot massage. Do it, it is your right.

New York State Massage law reads as follows: Massage therapists will respect the patient’s/client’s right to refuse, modify or terminate treatment, regardless of prior consent for such treatment.

4. Referring you out

Is your therapist Mr/Ms fix it? It is fantastic that you found a great therapist. Massage Therapists cannot wear all health care hats however. As a Massage Therapist we cannot diagnose or treat disease, so if you genuinely have a medical issue no one has seen you for, your therapist should refer you out. Vibrant clinical practices are loaded with referrals, we send people out and they send other people to us. We just cannot be all things at all times. It may totally be appropriate for your massage therapist to work alongside another professionals work though, just because they refer you out does not mean you necessarily have to stop going to your therapist.

New York State Massage law reads as follows: Massage therapists may provide services that lead to improved health and muscle function, but they do not diagnose medical diseases or disorders. They evaluate patients/clients in terms of health and disease in order to know what massage technique should be used and when to make referrals to other health care practitioners.

5. Maintaining your personal health records

Records are an essential part of making sure you get a good treatment. If you are seeing one person, they help them remember the details of the last treatment. If you are at a clinic that shares files, they help keep your heath care consistent and make sure your health information travels to the practitioner you are seeing next. Beyond that, your health care records may be needed if you have been in an accident, or are claiming to certain kinds of insurance. Beware of the therapist without files, they may not serve you best long term. New York State Massage Therapists have to maintain records for 6 years.

New York State Massage law reads as follows: therapists must keep a record of client evaluations and treatments for six years or until the client turns 22, whichever is longer.

If you want more information on New York State Massage Therapy, you can find it at the New York State Government website. If you want to verify that your massage therapist is in good standing you can do so here.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
United States (US)
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

 

 

Sports Massage Therapist Profile Interview

Check Out Our Sports Massage Therapist Sharon!

sport massage therapist Sharon

We do this profile for our therapists now and again so that you can get to know them and get a little more information on who they are and what they do. Many of our therapists not only work in sports massage but also are athletes themselves. So here we go!

What is your background in sports?

Sharon: I have always enjoyed movement and have tried different kind of sports, even field hockey at one point, but lately I am really into yoga. I specifically train in arial yoga, circus, and silks. 

How long have you been training at your sport?

Sharon: I took my first arial class in 2013, but really started to get serious about it in 2015. I am now teaching arial yoga.

Can your share one experience as someone who uses their body that has greatly impacted your sports massage?

Sharon: Training in aerial can sometimes contribute to some weird imbalances. Especially if you are training for a performance sequence. However, I am a big fan of movement variability. Because of this I try and make sure BOTH sides of the body are worked in a sports massage, not just the side that has the issue. 

How long have you been training at your sport of choice?

Sharon: 5-6 years

What is your best uh oh story?

Sharon: One of the most significant injuries I have had is pretty recent. I inured my right shoulder so badly that it took me out of any regular movement practice. It gave me a deep appreciation of shoulder injury.  

How did you get into sports massage?

Sharon: When deciding our final semester practical, I decided to train as an LMT at the Joffery Ballet School. It was after that experience that I realized I really wanted to work with athletes and dancers. 

Are there any athletes you admire?

Sharon: Misty Copeland is pretty cool and inspiring!

Other than sports massage is there anything else you really enjoy working on?

Sharon: I LOVE working with the prenatal population. 

Is there anything else about you we should know? (odd ball facts and such?)

Sharon: Oh, I can hula hoop, play the ukelele while singing at the same time.

Sharon has now been on our staff for 1 year! Congratulations Sharon, you have grown leaps and bounds and worked hard for it. If you want to book a session with Sharon for sports massage, medical massage or prenatal massage you can find us online on our booking page!

You can also find more about Sharon in her therapist profile here.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
United States (US)
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

 

 

 

 

Review of Walt Fritz Myofascial Release Seminar

Walt Fritz’s Myofascial Release Seminar for Neck/Voice/Swallowing disorders

Before I get into the meat of this, there are a few things to note.  This class, ‘Myofascial Release Seminar for neck/voice/swallowing disorders,‘ is named for the conditions that may occur in the area being treated, as well as how the touching is done. While the title is ‘neck/voice/swallowing’  you can use many of the cervical techniques with any patient who has neck discomfort.  To further the point about the course name, it also is named for Myofascial release.  However Walt is not suggesting that this modality is meant to replace whatever intervention you are already using or that you should just go pulling on skin.  We frequently have a description problem when it comes to manual therapy and courses that operate within the realm of scientific reality.  The question becomes, what do you call things when your tag is “this may help some people, some times, in some way, with some things…but it also may not”.  So if you are fine with the spirit of this, keep reading.

Two other staff members (Tommy and Sylvia) and I attended this course in April of 2019.  It is a two day seminar.  This particular one was at the Grabscheid Voice and Swallowing Center of Mount Sinai near Union Square.  The attendees were mostly speech pathologists, with a smattering of other professions, including massage therapy.  I will get back to who is in the course, but one of the reasons I have admired Walt’s classes is that he has taken the time to get his classes approved for New York State Massage Therapy continuing education credits.  In New York State, it is super hard to level up your skill set when the same information is being taught and re-taught by the same professionals, over and over again.

Walt’s class was well attended and well organized.  He utilizes helpers to make sure you get real feedback ,even though you are in a large group.  Snacks and coffee were provided, although we did not need the coffee to keep us awake.

If research is your thing, Walt does provide it with his materials, but

you are not going to go into a deep dive in this class.  He will give you an introduction and you are welcome to proof on your own.  The assumption is that you are a professional and as such, it is your job to review this information.  A small amount of time was spent on this.  In this way the class was pretty neutral in the “how we think this works” department.  It is not likely to radically change anyone’s mind on the function of manual therapy.  That being said, I am not really sure anyone’s mind can be changed unless they want to.  That is another topic entirely.

The same goes for anatomy in this course.  Walt provided some information in the form of his manual, but the goal is not to teach you anatomy.  If you are a little rough on what goes where in the head, face, neck and jaw, I would recommend flipping through your anatomy book before attending.  You will get a lot more out of the course by being able to connect the dots.  Keep in mind that he is not trying to reinvent the wheel, just showing you different ways you can roll it.  If you are struggling to find a touch that feels safe and appropriate due to anatomy, you might be slowed down.

This class follows the fairly typical pattern of  the presenter talking about what you are going to demo, then performing a demonstration on a willing subject, before you split off and practice on each other.

There are three things Walt does that I like:

  1. He utilizes technology to solve the issue of everyone standing around him, blocking the view of those behind them, while he demos.  One of his helpers was present at all times to get a live feed video on the manual actives that he is showing.  That video was then projected onto three screens so that everyone in the conference hall could access it as if they were in the front row.  The space we were in was well set up for that, and other spaces may not be, but I can only assume if he took the time to do it thoughtfully this time, he probably does in most spaces if there is need. (Maybe he will chime in on an answer for us post, post 🙂
  2. Walt gives his interview process with a patient equal weight to the hands on that he is doing.  In most classes, manual or otherwise, teachers often jump to new technique.  The format becomes ‘for this problem use this thing”.  Not so here.  Walt lets you sit in on his client/patient interview.  If you are a massage therapist, who wants to improve quality, booking, professionalism etc, this is 100% the area that you need to work on.  Sitting in on this is gold.  What he is showing is a conversational health care format of “ol’ dr fricara” interview (if you do not know what that is here is a link) and an adapted motivational interview strategy that continues on to the treatment in the form of feedback (remember consent is an ongoing process).
  3. He has a mixed profession class. For many of the speech path professionals manual therapy was new. They got to work with massage therapists. I think they learned a lot from them. For the massage therapists we got to work with speech pathologists….same story. Both sets came away with great referrals and a really good understanding of how we might work together to better care for people. Rather than pair off into our professions, we sought out the other for their expertise. It was a unique opportunity.

As to the things I did not like. To be honest I would have to be super nit-picky about this. It is a great class. I would say if you are really comfortable working cervical spine in multiple ways manually, or intra-oral treatment is in your wheel house already, it might be a little slow for you. Both Sylvia and I spend a fair amount of our days in working with TMD, so much of this was review. Even so, we managed to come away with some good take aways. Even if this is the case, there is HUGE value in watching how someone else problem solves the same problems. This course assisted us in the decision to add ‘dycem’ as a home care tool for our population, as they often struggle to figure out how to self treat at home in a way that feels good.

Walt also provides ongoing support in his facebook groups (invite only) and his YouTube channel for Myofascial Release.

So to wrap it up: If you are a speech pathologist, much of what he teaches will give you a fresh approach and more options, if you are a massage therapist, this is right up your alley, and will be a detailed course getting you comfortable with helping cervical/jaw/neck pain and problems.

Additionally, if you do find that you NEED more and this was basic, Walt also has an advanced MFR for Neck, Voice, Swallowing class you can check out.<—-I just found out about that from his mailing list.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
United States (US)
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Sports Massage Profile Gerry

Get to know our sports massage therapist Gerry!

We asked our sportsports massage therapist nyc gerrys massage therapist, Gerry, a few questions so you can get to know him a little better. Here is what he had to say!

What is your background in sports, since you are working in sports massage currently?

Gerry: I used to race and I was a bike messenger, back when that was a thing in New York.  I also spent some time snow boarding.

If you could try any sport what would it be?

Gerry: Motorcycle racing!

How did you get into sports massage as a thing?

Gerry: I have a curiosity about the way people move and want to help them.

Are there any athletes your particularly admire? 

Gerry: Peter Sagan, he is a professional road bicycle racer.

Is there anything that sets your massage apart from anyone else?

Gerry: I hope it is my sensitivity

Do you have any specialized training that you are really drawn to?

Gerry: While I love working with athletes, I also work with geriatric paitents and that work is really inspiring. 

Is there any special skills or hobbies you want us to know about, something people would be surprised to know?

Gerry: I am really good at backgammon and swing dancing.

Last but not least, if you could have a super power, what would it be?

Gerry: I would want to fly of course!

 

If you want more information on Gerry you can find it on our therapist profile page.

To book an appointment see our prices page.

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 W 34th St
#204,
New York, NY 10001
United States (US)
Phone: 212-600-4808
Email: info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

 

 

 

 

 

We Have Moved to a New Location!

We Have a Fantastic New Location

Hello all! We just wanted to keep you updated to a few of the changes that have happened this year. The biggest of which of course is WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW LOCATION!! It was a long time coming but after 5 years at our former location, near Grand Central Station, we have moved to a stunning location just near the Empire States Building! We traded one monument for another! Our new location address is 1 w. 34th Street. NY, NY, 10017. We are right across the street from the Empire States Building and across from Heartland Brewery. Our phone number and web contact information remains the same. We stay devoted to the same kinds of treatment: Sports Massage, Medical Massage, TMJ Massage, Breast Cancer Massage and Runners Massage.

There are a few things you should know about our new location 

  • Space! We have a lot of it! We went from 3 rooms to 4 room…and we have a staff room now with an extra large lobby. No more crowds and being on top of one another.

 

  • We have central air that is HEPA filtered. So this is pretty awesome…especially since our old space ran really hot and the dirty old outside air used to come in…but it also means there is 1 temp for everyone. If you are running hot or cold please let us know, there are fans and table heaters in each room but we can’t control the room temperature any more.

 

  • It is MUCH nicer. I mean really, its is totally an upgrade. We look a little more medical, as we are in a medical building, but we have kept with the same lux and plush stylings. We are just a little more streamlined now. The old space was cute, but the building was old and ill cared for. This building is brand spanking new!

 

  • Speaking of new, we have a few new things that may surprise you. Now on weekends we have to buzz you in. It takes a few seconds, but hey we have a buzzer, because we are fancy now.

 

  • We also have changed our pricing. You can find that information here: Pricing at Body Mechanics . Minimum wage is changing in NYC and we needed to adapt to reflect that. On the upside, yay for sustainable living! You will also find little perks like a new hot and cold water cooler, a better bathroom (no more keys), wifi for you, and a new charging station.  We also have some new therapists. You can check them out here: Massage Therapists 

Here are some pictures of our new space to help you get an idea of what we are doing. Scroll through and take a look!!
Our Space
 

Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage

1 w. 34th Street #204. NY, NY 10017

212-600-4808

info@bodymechanicsnyc.com

Do you want run like a Spartan? Try a run at the Spartan Sprint.

 

The Spartan Sprint run took place at Citi Field on Saturday April 16th 2016.

citi field stadium. New York, New YorkSoooo my friends and I signed up for the Spartan Sprint run at Citi Field. What is a Spartan Sprint you ask? Well…it can be a lot of things but this one is a fantastic 3 mile + obstacle course race through Citi Field stadium.  I am a runner by trade and have been running for years, but I am also scrappy. I spent my early childhood scrabbling up trees so I was totally up for this challenge. And who does not want to break up the running season with something a little different!

A Spartan is an obstacle course race. This one happens to use Citi Field as its tromping ground. To be fair, I have no idea how many obstacles we actually did:), I will go more into that later, but the whole race takes you on a run all over the stadium, through the bleachers, up the stairs, through the parking lots, on the field and in the back tunnels. If you are a sports fan, it is kind of amazing. The views are fantastic and I can truly say, never have I ever seen more of a stadium.

One of the nice things about this race is the location, which is easily accessible by car or by train.  I took a train there and my racing buddy drove, neither one of us had any problems. We simply met up in the parking lot where we picked up our bibs and tags like any other race.Race entry packet, Spartan Sprint New York

This was easy and well organized. We had formed a team, so we were essentially running at the same time with a drawn go-time of 9:30 am. Being a team has it’s benefits and to be truthful this is one of the really nice things about the Spartan culture. While running is usually a solo project, the Spartan races allow you to form teams and do the race as a group which allows for your teammates to help you on challenges that might be just out-of-reach.  If you fail an obsticals, a teammate can help you or share in the penalty (30 burpee’s) to ease the burden.

This race had some great obstacle in it. A short list includes, rope climb, crawling under/over things, spear throwing, bucket carrying (with and without water), general lifting and hauling of things, a  plank skateboard thing, jumping rope and some other odds and ends. The set up is simple…run, then stop and perform a task (while the refs cheer you on). If you fail the task for some reason or cannot complete it due to physical reason then you can opt for 30 burpee’s. Sadly, we did not do a great job of documenting it because we were so busy running! But we managed to capture these shots from the obstacles.

IMG_5794 (1) Spartan Sprint run NY, NY

 

By the time we finished the race it was 10;30 or so…keep in mind we talked to other runners and wandered around snacking on the free goodies provided and comparing race stories. By that time there were a lot more families coming in to race too. They run a children’s Spartan race along side the adult one which is wonderful.

As an entry level, this sprint is a great time. It is challenging if you do all the obstacles and are in reasonable shape, but so long as you are fairly active I think any group that likes a challenge could participate in it. There were loads of people who walked the course rather than ran. The ability to share tasks makes the tasks achievable, but you can always opt out and take the burpee penalty. So as long as you know your skill level, you can keep yourself safe from injury. I say this with a grain of salt because any time you are doing complex activities while you are tired, you could easily hurt yourself…so be carful out there! And injury is relative. I would totally expect to come home with a few of these beauties! Since we were a little beat up we recovered by treating ourselves to Spa Castle for a sauna, which is just a short drive away.

IMG_5805 (1) FullSizeRender (16) (1)

But you will also get an amazing day, some great new skills and this….IMG_5809 (1)

Totally worth it. I really enjoyed the switch up from running, to some more skill oriented tasks. As a woman, I also have to say one of the nice things about races like this is it challenges you to build upper body strength in a really useful, practical way. I really do not know if I will ever have to bench a bunch of weights cold, but you never know; I totally might have to lift my body over a fence while running one day.

Finding Naturalism in Massage

naturalism and massage

Many of us in the massage industry spend a lot of time talking to other therapists about massage therapy. What is holding it back? Is it the non-science based nature that is the issue? Is it the lack of research? Is it the people it attracts? Is it the professionalism? What about the spiritual aspects that some seem to want to connect to?

As most of you know, I am firmly in the science-based camp. My background is  pain management with rehabilitative exercise. This is what I was taught in school and I was exposed to nothing else. Prior to my RMT training, I had taken pre-med courses in college, and before that all the AP science classes offered in high school so the Canadian program fit right in with my science-based ideals. It made sense to me.

The US massage industry frustrates me to no-end. I desperately want it to change because, after working in Canada as part of a heath care continuum, I know how good a massage program can be.

I know there are a lot of us pushing for a shift to a science-based program. However, given the condition of the US system and its irregularity, changing to science-based might be asking too much transitionally.

The US massage industry faces a number of problems. With such a large number of workers currently in the industry, the change would surely need to be gradual. One of the things I constantly think about is, with the current requirement of 500-1000 hours and no competency requirement, are we barking up the wrong tree demanding science? Is science even doable? Of course I learned some science in my education, but I didn’t necessarily learn the act of science in massage school. Often times what we receive is the outline of science, the puppetry of science, the mimicry of science…not actual science, even from the best and brightest who teach and share knowledge.  I am not saying don’t teach the science aspects, I am saying expecting meta data analysis from someone still trying to figure out where the elbow is, is probably unrealistic.  The results may be as poor and dangerous as pseudoscience.  Maybe what we should be asking for is naturalism…and leave the science to the experts.

Naturalism is defined as: A philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted. 

Massage therapy lends itself  very well to naturalism. At its base even the most complex thing that I have done with a patient through a rehabilitation is simply mimicking how the body would normally behave in a controlled, suggestive state in the hopes that the body realizes it can keep moving and that it does not need whatever protection or feeling it has produced.  I try to remind the body of its normal function by setting the stage with relaxing/safe elements, and then lead it through passive, active and resisted activities.   And follow up by assigning exercises that will re-enforce that. There are only so many things the body can do. We take the body through these activities in order to start a dialogue. A dialogue with words like – rest, slack, stretch,  move, stimulate, sense, resist and strengthen.  I try to build windows of time where there is an altered signal or decreased signal, so the body can get back to doing what it loves to do…homeostasis. I monitor all of it through range of motion and pain scales. It is not rocket science;) Of course it can get more complex when you start building in limitations and conditions, but at its base its fairly simple.

Science can be a complicated system of testable questions and answers. There are entire systems in place to understand how to correctly ask the questions, let alone address  the answers. Rarely is it simple. It takes years to study, explore and even begin to understand even small parts of it. Naturalism however is beautiful in it’s simplicity. With 500-1000 hours of training and little time to test the application let alone question it, perhaps some of the answers lie there.

Starting with a few simple observations, perhaps we could make a safer, simpler, more ethical massage world. Here are some of the simple statements I keep in mind when practice daily.

  • Relaxation has value and potential.
  • The body is fine the way it is. Homeostasis works. For the most part the body will correct itself naturally, unless disease is present.
  • In the end, all change comes from internal function, not external force *other than trauma
  • Setting the stage for rest and digest may help remind the body that things are ok, which may let the person move more or differently, so they can get back to their normal.
  • Form is not necessarily representative of function.

What are the statement you practice under? More and more I see statements like “the science of massage”. Yet that statement is pretty misleading, when I think about what I do, as I am not really doing anything. I am simply setting the stage for what the body does for itself…naturally. Absolutely there is room for more advanced practitioners in advanced practice settings,  but at the core we need to get comfortable with who we are.

*I want to make a small disclosure here, as to the above statements of rehab. Rehab or rehabilitative exercise falls within the scope of an RMT (Canada). In no way do I advertise the practice of that here in NY, the example is based on my past experiences where it would be very normal for me to work with stroke patients, whiplash patients, etc combining manual therapy, movement and rehab exercise on my own. Your scope will depend on where you practice, and you should follow the local law to that effect.

 

Does your Massage Consent Pass the Peanut Butter and Jelly Test?

Consent, Massage &Peanut Butter & Jelly

*Full disclosure, I believe I learned this exercise in grade school creative writing.

Frequently when talking to clients you may think that you are communicating effectively and giving a great consent when you actually are not. This failing actually massage consenthappens with everyone at some time. People are full of funny little quirks. If you ask them if they understand, they may say yes when they mean no, or you yourself may unintentionally overcomplicate the matter in order to show you understand when you don’t understand. To make things even murkier, lurking below our psychology, the actual words we choose may have a totally different meaning to another person based on the context, their past experience, and the desired outcome.So how do you know if you’re really making sense and connecting on any legitimate level?

I would always advocate for clarity and simplicity of speech, but sometimes even when you think you are being clear you are not.

This recently happened between a staff member and a client. As the mediator, I listened to both sides of the event, and both thought they had clearly communicated their thoughts but both walked away completely at odds with the outcome. So what happened?


 

-The client had expressed that her shoulders were tight and her neck needed work

-After a full intake, the therapist confirmed that she agreed and that she also wanted to work on those areas and described “We have 30 minutes. I would like to spend about 15 min on each area. How does that sound?”

-At the end of the massage the client was unhappy and stated, “Although I thought the massage was quite good, I asked for my neck to be done”

-In talking to the therapist, I learned she had performed a 30 minute massage, with 15 minutes on the shoulders and 15 minutes on the neck, but she had performed the majority of the cervical massage prone, rather than supine because she felt the client was very relaxed and did not wish to ruin that therapeutically. As the client was use to the neck treatment having been performed face up, she assumed it had not been done and left unhappy. 


 

Even though both parties sat down to communicate formally, because of the personal histories they brought to the table, they failed to reach clarity. For reasons like this, and many others, I really recommend putting your consent through the peanut butter and jelly test. It goes like this:

Write instructions for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to an alien, who does not know anything about this planet. 

While the task seems simple enough, you will soon find you are going to run into problems when you start critically thinking about things such as:

 

  • What is jelly?
  • What is a plate? What does that look like?
  • What is a knife?
  • How do you determine amounts?
  • What are descriptive terms? What do they mean?

Through this practice, you begin to understand there is a LOT we take for granted in our communication, even when relating to other professionals. Words like ‘massage, trigger point, therapeutic, deep, strong, sports, etc’ may have lots of meaning, some meaning, no meaning, or a different meaning, depending on who you are talking to. So if you think you are communicating clearly or if you suspect that you’re not, try running through the peanut butter and jelly test and see what you are taking for granted.