Preparing Your Practice for Special Needs Clients
For a standard massage therapy session, many massage therapists have a room set up with at least a table, a bolster, extra sheets, candles, and 강남텐프로스타안마 a headrest. But fewer massage therapists have a closet full of bolsters of various shapes (triangular, thin, thick, circular, flat), a massage chair to accommodate clients who cannot lie supine or prone, lights that can dim or brighten depending on a client’s visual needs, or an erasable board to communicate with clients with hearing impairments.
Physically preparing accessories and the layout of your room for a massage therapy session can increase the positive experience had by special needs clients exponentially. Additionally, massage therapists should consider how clients will even get to your massage room. Are the hallways in your practice large enough to accommodate clients of all sizes, and clients in wheelchairs? Is your practice ADA compliant with stairs and a ramp to the front door and a method of moving from one floor to another such as an elevator?
Finally, are you advertising that your massage therapy practice is welcoming of special needs clients? By writing a sentence on your website such as “I am pleased to work with all clients, and request that you inform me of any special needs prior to making your appointment. I appreciate this extra time you give me to arrange your massage room, make a spot for any assistance animals, and prepare to provide you with a quality massage”, massage therapists can let everyone know that they provide massage for special needs clients.
As previously stated, “special needs” is a broad term and encompasses many medical, emotional, and physiological needs. There is a wealth of printed material about providing massage therapy to special needs clients, and these should be read by massage therapists to best prepare to accommodate all clients. Additionally, always understand that the client you are working with knows their condition better than anyone (including you). Ask them about prior massage treatments, and what did and did not work for them in the past. Always be mindful that they are above all people and clients with special needs – not a problem or a challenge to overcome.
More massage schools are offering continuing education courses about accommodating special needs clients, and massage therapists often have the chance to learn about ADA compliance, medical contraindications, complementary therapies, medical massage, and much more. It is always a good idea to educate yourself to stay informed about best practices to serve all clients. Subscribe (if you do not already) to a trade journal or newsletter about special needs massage. Therapists should read articles on reputable message boards about accommodating special needs clients, and always be prepared to identify potential complications in order to give the best massage therapy possible.
Laurie Craig, the 2007 recipient of the prestigious Jerome Perlinski American Massage Therapy Association National Teacher of the Year award, is a respected health science educator, who serves as a subject matter expert and test item writer for the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. She has also participated in test item writing for the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.