Home based Massage Therapists, today we are talking about taking it to heart or taking it too personally or taking on someone else's issue...
How to deal with customer complaints when things don't go to plan, or your customer gets worse not better
It's a difficult truth
And in my experience it's one that even experienced therapists fell uncomfortable discussing.
But it is possible your client will not respond as expected to your treatment
And get worse instead of better
And in my experience, even the most seasoned therapist feels like shit when this happens.
A good friend and fellow therapist messaged me a few days ago because it happened her... and she suggested that dealing with tough situations when it just doesn't go to plan would be an awesome thing for me to share with you.
Specifically because we don't necessarily get much time to talk frankly about this issue while we are doing our technique training.
It might be covered in our course, but somehow it's not that real... until it becomes REAL when we're out on our own.
Here's a scenario for you to consider.
Your client is a fit and healthy athletic person who is experiencing some lower back pain during and after running. You assess and find some hip rotation which appears due to tension anterior right and posterior left.
You treat using a combo of deep tissue remedial techniques, always asking about pain and keeping below 8/10.
Treatment 1 leads to easing of symptoms.
Treatment 2 is similar and appears to lead to easing of symptoms....
But client experiences a sharp pain on their way home down the back of the leg. (They don't call you) After 10 days of worsening symptoms they self refer to physio who suggests the massage has caused severe bruising to tendons, hip joints and bone - which they 'confirm' with xray and ultrasound.
Client eventually contacts you via email ' to pass on this information for your reference '
There are so many levels of distress that come into play.
Here's some things it's SO easy to think/feel when you hear that your client got worse, not better after your treatment.
1. OMG - Do they think I'm a horrible therapist? Will they tell everyone they know how bad I am? Will I go out of business?
2. OMG - Did I really make them worse? Could I have done that? Seriously - could massage really cause that kind of damage? How could another healthcare provider say that? Was everything I learnt in school total bullsh*t? I'm such a sh*t therapist, I'd better start looking for another job right away.
3. OMG - Are they going to sue me? Did I take good notes? Did I follow my procedures? Am I up to date with my professional indemnity insurance? Will they cover me? F*ck!!!!!
You might even experience ALL of these wrapped up into one panic filled horrible feeling package.
I'm not saying you will, but in my personal experience, this pretty much sums up that thoughts that first run through my head.
And trust me, it's part of being a therapist.
Something like this is going to happen if you haven't experienced it already.
And it's normal.
It's part of the gig.
Don't run screaming from the profession...
Let's TALK about it NOW, before it happens.
I'm going to share 3 strategies you can put in place NOW that will help you work through it when it happens.
Strategy #1: Breathe
If you've been following me for any time at all you know that I often suggest breathing.
It sounds so simple, but it's easy to forget how powerful closing your eyes and returning to your breath is when your world spirals out of control.
Practice breathing when there is no stress freaking you out.
How about right now?
Breath in for 4 counts. Hold for 4 counts. Breath out for 4 counts. Rest for 4.
Close your eyes and do this 4 times before reading on...
I guarantee you will feel the impact.
Strategy #2: Support
When the therapeutic sh*t hits the fan, reach out to your support network.
Get on the phone.
Reach out to your network of supportive therapist colleagues.
Do not put off building your network for 'when you've got time'.
Make time right now.
You know that saying, 'Be the change you want to see in the world?' ...
Well just modify that a little and 'Be the supportive professional therapist you want in your network'
And how do you do this?
Reach out to other therapists - maybe in a super supportive group like my First Step Sisters Facebook Group.
It's my group for women who want to Kickstart their home-based massage biz with business skills that feel authentic not salesy.
If you're not already a member, you can find us by searching FirststepSisters in Facebook Groups.
Strategy #3: Reconnect with your purpose
Even though your mind is likely swirling with the repercussions to you confidence and your business, when I hear that something has not gone to plan for my client, I find it really helpful to reconnect with my purpose.
And I bet your purpose is a little like mine
To use all my skills to help women in my community to become free from pain and enjoy their active lives
And if I breathe and reconnect with this purpose, I can shift my thoughts from my personal panic to a therapeutic life-long learner head space.
And when you're a learner, what do you do?
You ask questions?
You don't focus on a single outcome, but rather you gather information and look at possibilities.
This is an incredibly freeing mindset.
Guilt takes a back seat.
Curiosity takes the lead.
Now I'm curious,
is there something I could understand better about assessment? Is there any information out there about links between my technique and the unexpected outcome? What is the treatment the physio is providing for my client and what are they hoping it will achieve? Has anyone in my network experienced something similar? What did they do? What was the outcome for their client?
And when I'm curious,
I'm more open to hearing other therapists, friends, family and clients
reassure me that I am skilled, I am truly caring, I am competent...
And most importantly, I am adding value to the world.
Any of this feel true to you?
I'd love to hear from you.
If you enjoyed my musing about what to do when things go wrong, you might like these!
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Hey Massage Therapists!
This week I wanted to spend some time helping you start to LOVE sales.
Sales are important! They get your clients, grow your biz and ultimately help you not only fulfil your business dreams and goals BUT also help future clients that you may not previously have had a chance to help (had you still been afraid of the sales process).
Check out my video below and give the challenge a go :)
If you had fun with the challenge, here's another you might enjoy!
Click the image.
As home based massage therapist, sometimes I deliberately push myself to do something way out of my comfort zone.
Because I have a feeling in my gut that this push will help me grow. And I feel in my bones that growth is good... at least heading towards growth vs towards stagnation.
Fits in with my #healthyish thinking.
And by growth, I mean ‘personal growth’ or flexing a few mental health muscles.
This fits into my #healthyish thinking because what I think and how I react ( = my mental health) can fall somewhere between ‘not helpful to myself or the world in general’ to ‘best choice ever with amazing positive impact on myself and people around me’ … yup, a continuum.
Not that tired old binary of good vs bad or healthy vs unhealthy but rather a spectrum of choices.
So what do I mean when I say I push myself out of my comfort zone?
Maybe the easiest way to kick off this conversation is to share what I did today.
It's just a little thing, but still a new thing for me.
I bought a book in the 'ebook' version rather than from a real life book store.
Because I want to go to a book club tonight AND I just haven't been able to get myself to a book store that stocks the book they group is reading AND I haven't been to this book club before so I'm a bit nervy about turning up without having read they book in case it's not just one of those book clubs where the book is a bit of an excuse to socialise, but is in fact the main purpose.
Can you tell I'm a bit nervy?
I sure can. The run on sentences are a dead give away.
I'm leaving it it just like that, a bit jumbled and stream of consciousness, so you can get a feel for my authentic voice rather than 'polished' me.
So the real comfort zone push is to go to a book club where I've met one or 2 of the participants, but I don't know them and have no idea what the experience will be like.
And why am I doing this?
Because encouraging myself out of my comfort zone makes me feel like a brave woman, a more resilient person, one who can cope, no erase that last word and put in 'thrive' in our fast paced ever changing world.
And it's not totally random.
I have some safety/support here.
I do love to read.
There will be coffee.
There is a beginning and and an end to the event so even if I never want to go back, I can definitely pluck up the courage to be present for an hour.
AND I might really enjoy myself. I might meet some really interesting people who expand my ideas about the world. I might really love the book.
So let me draw you back to the new skill I've already attempted - buying an ebook. I thought it would be reasonably easy to do and it was. Pop the title into good old google and then follow the links when it says you can buy it as an ebook.
But then I couldn't find it.
I had to google.... where would my ebook be after I bought it ? ...
And I must say I was super proud of myself for even thinking of googling that phrase - THAT is a success story for me - and my journey towards new ways of thinking.
I might not remember to 'google' the next thing I want to know, but I am revelling in the fact I did this time.
This is exactly what I do with any #healthyish choice I make.
Revel and notice and proclaim - I've made a choice for myself that is along the healthy spectrum!
So that's it.
You've heard my story.
And possibly giggled - maybe with me, maybe at me... I'm feeling resilient so I don't mind which!
PS. If you're wondering what this blog has to do with either my Massage/Bowen clinical practice or my Online Business Coaching for Women with Solo Wellness businesses... nothing directly, but really EVERYTHING.
Both my clinical practice and my coaching are all about providing support to you, as you build the life you want.
If you found this bit of rambling interesting, here's some more you might like!
Click on the image.
Playing with balloons is a great use of time for savvy women, especially if you have a solo wellness business.
Playing with balloons?
A GOOD use of time?
Yes, if you are a woman and you've experienced stress and overwhelm by the amount of 'stuff' there is to do for work, home and never mind your 'you' time, read on and find out how playing with balloons can help you.
In 2016 I did a fabulous workshop series that was all about incorporating movement into your clinical practice.
The facilitator introduced herself and gave us each a balloon.
Then we played.
There was instruction, there was purpose but at the end of the day it was play.
It got us out our heads and into our bodies.
the link to Savvy business practices
... and so what does that have to do with being a savvy woman, especially if you have a business?
Well, you know that old saying 'work smarter, not harder', I see well timed play as part of your 'smarter' strategy.
It works like a circuit break when you're jamming up because there is so much to do and you feel like you might get paralysed by overwhelm really soon.
4. Tap your balloon around your body - in circle (ish).
5. When the timer goes, you're done!
As Therapy / corrective exercise
As a remedial massage and Bowen Therapist, I also use balloon play with my clients to help mobilise their ankles, especially if they have leg or back pain.
It's gentle. It uses gravity. It's playful. Mobilisation happens within a comfortable ROM.
AND it helps get anyone out of an overactive head and into their body.
... and I'd like to give Marcelle Malan, The Movement Philosopher a high five for her inspirational balloon use. She runs a fun and fabulous workshop series that really changed my attitude to play.
When you try balloon games, I would love to hear how it goes for you and your clients. You can reach me here or email@example.com.
If you liked how I incorporate playing with balloons into my practice, here's another you might enjoy.
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Ever found money in your pocket when you were hanging out the washing? #healthyish
It's the BEST!
Feels like FREE money, even though it is clearly just money you forgot you had in your pocket.
When this happens to me, I like to spend it on something a little fun, a little unexpected, something that feels like a treat.
So today I found $25.
It's the perfect amount for me to take myself out to breakfast at a local cafe. #healthyish
It's the perfect amount for me to do a random yoga class at my favourite studio. #healthyish
It's the perfect amount to buy a new tub of anti-friction cream to make cycling WAY more fun. #healthyish
It's the perfect amount to buy a new candle to light as I relax in a bath. #healthyish
I think I could go on and on, but I'll stop now.
I'd love to hear what you do with 'found' money.
If you're wondering why I'm putting #healthyish after each of my options, it's because I'm taking a moment to recognize that every choice I make falls somewhere along the spectrum of 'not good for me at all in any way' to 'best thing I ever did for myself' instead of the old fashioned binary of everything being Healthy vs Unhealthy.
This year I'm really making a point of noticing what my choices are - and to give myself a little pat on the back when they are healthyish.
I don't need any encouragement to notice when I'm doing something wrong.
I've got years of practice dwelling on that!
. .. you might be the same.
It's certainly a message I feel comes strongly through our culture ... a big focus on WHAT IS WRONG with our bodies so we can we "FIX" ourselves.
I hate this style of thinking.
It doesn't help me make change.
It leaves me feeling crappy.
So it's really important that I build up my skills so I CAN notice the positive healthyish choices and move my focus towards them. I believe this approach is going to bring me much joy AND get the results I want.
How to implement #healthyish
Look with fresh eyes and APPLAUD yourself when you choose
that is towards healthy.
With warmth and health,
If you liked my musing about choosing the life you WANT and building it NOW, here's another you might enjoy!
Click the image.
If you've heard of Bowen Therapy, but aren't sure what it involves, this blog (written by one of my clients) provides a great introduction. Whether you are a practitioner or recipient of Bowen, or new to the whole thing - Polly's story proves that Bowen is for everyone.
Read on for her unique insight as an active woman in a sedentary job and how working with me helped her to achieve her wellness goals.
Feeling my body again
I first started my five session-package with Barbara at Barbara Swiatkiwsky Bowen and Massage in West Preston when I’d just started working two desk jobs and was working long hours with little movement.
My body tends to be OK at healing and loosening itself if I’m moving a little every day - even if it’s just a walk to the tram or a short morning yoga session at home. But put me at a desk for 1-2 hours at a time, and boy, do I cramp up. It’s been bad enough at times that I’ve suffered neuralgia and been woken with shooting pains through my neck, arms and legs. Not very fun.
The difference Barbara made to my body was both immediate - freeing up movement, breathing and posture within hours of treatment - and long-lasting.
For me at least, Bowen therapy has been a pretty magical discovery
With a long-term history of muscle-cramping and tightness, plus life-long asthma - which has been tested by specialists I must add, and no underlying structural cause has been found - I’ve seen a whole range of therapists over the years.
For me it’s partly about Barbara’s gentle and thoughtful style, making sure the environment is comfortable for you from the moment you walk in the door. But more than that, Barbara is a really skilled therapist in Bowen. And Bowen seems to be able to get at muscles and tissue that have been hurting me for years, in a way that other therapies have not, and in a way that also - very importantly - does not do other damage.
If you enjoyed this testimonial from a Bowen client, you might also like these!
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An article Featuring ME, in My Role as AAMT Regional Ambassador, is published in the AAMT JOurnal (winter edition 2017)
If you've heard of Bowen Therapy but aren't sure what it involves, this blog (written by one of my clients) provides the perfect introduction! Whether you're a practitioner, recipient of Bowen therapy or new to the whole thing - Leah's story proves that Bowen is for everyone. Read on for a unique insight from someone that had never experienced Bowen, and how it helped her achieve her wellness goals
As a self-confessed workaholic in my mid-twenties, I’m probably not the healthiest of clients to walk through the door of Barbara Swiatkiwsky’s Bowen practice in West Preston. My Brunswick diet involves a fair few burgers, I enjoy a drink here and there and my fitness regime is limited to taking leisurely walks. I’d been struggling to improve my wellbeing when I heard about Barbara through some shared networks, and after watching some of her vibrant videos, I decided to give Bowen therapy a go.
Getting to the crux of the issue
I’d opted for a five-session package because I was looking for some long-term solutions, and let’s be honest – if you’re going to do something, do it right.
Barbara took some time to get a good understanding of my lifestyle and health goals. It really boiled down to two main things: I was starting a new exercise regime with a goal of walking 5km, three times per week, and I didn’t want it to hurt. I also wanted to improve my posture, as I was developing some pretty bad back strain due to my desk job.
I got some good advice about the way I sit and move at work, then Barbara provided a ‘foundation’ treatment, testing certain muscles and focusing on my hamstrings and sacrum to relieve lower back aches. It felt great! My walks following the treatment were comfortable – I didn’t experience the usual pain in my calf muscles, so I was excited to see what the second session could do.
A definite improvement
I was pleased to inform Barbara of my improvement, small though it was, as I wasn’t expecting any signs of change until further into the treatment. I’d even chucked an extra kilometre on my last walk for the week, and was more conscious of my seating position at work. Keeping in the region of the lower back, Barbara extended my Bowen treatment to the pelvic area, with particular attention to my hip flexors. She would occasionally type out notes – I could tell that she was closely observing my progress and tailoring her approach based on the results she was seeing.
OK, so why doesn’t everyone know about Bowen therapy?
When I came back for the third session (I really could get used to weekly treatments!) Barbara asked me if I’d noticed anything about my body, and come to think of it, I hadn’t. ‘Nothing?’ she asked, ‘no pain, no strains?’ and the answer was no! I hadn’t noticed that I was feeling fine. That’s when it struck me – I’d only been listening to my body in a negative way, when it was experiencing difficulty. That’s when I allowed myself to start feeling great.
Session four arrived and I was pleased to report that I’d clocked 12km walking around Moomba Festival and not even noticed. Sure, I was tired, but my legs had simply carried me around all day without complaint. I thought that was pretty cool. Barbara did some specialty work on my TMJ (that’s my temporal mandibular joint) because I was getting a few headaches, probably from staring long hours at a screen. I’m a creative consultant and I love my job, but I still get a bit carried away sometimes.
I was still getting a few headaches, so Barbara decided to whip out the big guns. Intra-oral TMJ work is a form of Bowen therapy that is performed from inside the mouth – but it’s not as unpleasant as it sounds! Wearing gloves, she was able to conduct a few short, expertly-planned manouvers around my jaw area. They didn’t hurt, and while I experienced a slight clicking in my jaw the next day – my headaches went away within three days and I haven’t experienced them since (its been quite a few months).
Capping all this off, it should be noted that not everyone will experience Bowen Therapy as I did. Some people will become tired after a session, others invigorated! My advice is to trust Barbara to strategise the best treatment for you – her pragmatic approach is great for people that don’t pay a lot of attention to their bodies but need professional advice to take some positive steps toward improvement. Her way of communicating, along with her general demeanor, is very amicable. You can tell that she likes people, and is very accepting of everyone. She’s also highly experienced with treating a range of body types. If you’re curious about Bowen therapy and think it could help you, I urge you to give Barbara a call! She’s super passionate and I’m sure she’ll be happy to provide a simple introductory session and overview if you’re not ready to opt for the five-session package. Good luck!
Leah Morris, April 2016
Was Leah's story valuable to you? Here's another you might enjoy.
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If you've been browsing my website and like the look of me and Bowen therapy, but you're not quite sure... why not meet me in person and try a mini treatment for FREE?
Here are 3 events I'll be at in the next month... normally I just do 1 a month, but it's SPRING and everyone deserves a spring in their step.
Click each picture to get straight to the FaceBook Event - so you can see all the details and invite your friends.
Sunday 30 August 3-5pm
Sunday 13 Sept 11am-2pm
Saturday 19 September 1-5pm
Do you spend a lot of time on a keyboard?
Do you lift and carry things (or people)?
Do you feel pain in your hands, wrists, arms or shoulders?
If you answer YES to even one of these questions, this self care exercise MIGHT be for you.
Be careful the first time you try it. If you feel PAIN - STOP immediately.
I would be delighted to discuss your experience in person at your next therapeutic appointment. We may be able to modify the exercises to be more effective for your body.
Did the wrist mobilization help? Here's another you might enjoy.
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Bruggers relief is my go to exercise to provide instant relief when my neck crinks because I've been sitting at my desk for too long. I didn't invent it, but that doesn't mean I don't LOVE it!
Sit up - make sure you are in "sit bones"
Relax neck - let chin drop comfortably forward
Rotate shoulders so palms face out
Pull shoulder blades back
Hold up to 30 seconds or until you feel uncomfortable - whichever comes first.
Try it for yourself. I'd love to hear how you go.
And if you found it useful, here's another you might like!
Click the image.