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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