Student clinic massages work best when the client feels comfortable with you as a therapist. Your first impression matters. Attire, hygiene and wellness level are important. Even the way you shake hands during your first meeting will have an effect on the treatment outcome.
2. Communication Skills
Establish rapport by using your client's name in conversation. Clearly explain what the client can expect during the treatment-duration, sequence and techniques. Discuss draping procedures so the client will feel comfortable, and describe the rationale for any techniques that may be considered invasive. Use an intake form to record client needs and desires. This form should also document informed consent.
3. Clinical Decision-Making Skills
Your client's subjective information should be used to rule out general contraindications. Use a reference text (if necessary) to deduce a course of action if the client has a condition that contraindicates certain techniques. Prioritize the order of your sequence and areas of emphasis by working on the client's pressing needs first. During the intake, discuss areas to avoid to counterbalance areas of emphasis. Make certain the client knows what to expect. Allocate enough time for your treatment session so you'll be able to focus on problem areas as necessary.
4. Hands-On Skills
Use a combination of expressive touch and mechanical touch, depending upon whether a nurturing effect or a treatment effect is desired. Although you will rarely, if ever, administer a strict step-by-step protocol, it helps to have your routine memorized and mapped out, down to the number of seconds you'll spend on each stroke. If you know your routine by heart, you won't have to think about it when you deviate from your normal sequence. Structure creates the opportunity for spontaneous, intuitive massage.
5. Time-Management Skills
Time matters, not only during the massage, but also before and after the session. Prepare the treatment area (table, linens, timing device, massage tools) in advance. Ensure that your filing system, administrative forms and cash-flow systems are in order. Conduct a thorough intake, but not so thorough that the client feels as if he is missing out on the massage. A post-treatment feedback session is important, so that you (and your instructor) will be able to conduct an analysis of training, procedures and policies.
Most of all, relax. Don't expect perfection. Treat each clinic massage as a learning experience. Give your best effort at every opportunity. You can learn more during a one-hour clinic massage than in several hours of lecture. Trust that your teachers have prepared you well, and use the five keys to success in a way that brings confidence to your clinic experience.