Navigating the fringe
Massage is too often seen as something sexual arising from bad public attitudes and lack of education. But massage as a healing work often takes clients into levels of intimacy they are unfamiliar with, and this may cause them to become sexually aroused.
As someone interested in giving or receiving massage, you need to understand these points.
Public Views and Attitudes
Massage has long been used as the cover name for the sex industry and those of us who offer a genuine massage for health and therapy have had an uphill battle to regain the integrity of the word massage, but the consequences of this out dated attitude are that there are occasional expectations or misunderstandings from clients, especially those who have had many massages in Asia where hand relief is often a normal everyday part of the treatment. The presentation of your business should deter people looking for this treatment but when you are asked for this service, you must manage these requests with good grace and not be offended.
You are aroused when receiving
When receiving a massage you become aroused, just lay back and enjoy it, or if you're really bothered, start a conversation and don't hit on your therapist unless you're having a brothel massage.
A typical situation that every therapist must be prepared for is that occasionally any touch can cause arousal and this is worse if its a colleague or family member. Usually women can internalise it and simply enjoy that inner glow unbeknownst the therapist, but for men, getting an erection can be very embarrassing and as a therapist it is your duty to ignore/ work around it it as best you can without causing them any embarrassment. Make them feel at ease and complete the massage.
Client arousal is less likely when you follow good protocols and if a client becomes obviously aroused, you can move away from the area and make your stroke firmer, and / or use conversation to distract them.
You get hot when giving
When massaging an absolutely cute or gorgeous person, its very easy to become sexually interested, its natural and its part of our human nature. But as a professional therapist you must keep your mind on the job and this requires the great self discipline. Its helpful if you can internalise and transmute your feelings and sexual energy into positive service.
Compassion, empathy and intimacy
Massage is an intimate personal service, conversations can flow into many areas evoking empathy, compassion and close sharing. As a therapist you need to be able to set your own boundaries within which you must engage these three qualities without getting lost or falling into your sexual energy.
Often times when compassion and empathy combine with intimacy outside the massage room, there may be a hug or a cuddle for reassurance. Between lovers sex is a natural follow on but in the massage room its a little different. You will sometimes get drawn into conversation and emotional states and clients sometimes like to touch the therapist and it is an option to allow this and generally the safest and most workable solution is for the clients hand to rest on the therapists waist or hip.
In some ways being a massage therapist is a little bit like working in a minefield. On one hand you have clients trying you on for extras and increasingly we have women who will try for a little bit extra and then halfway through change their mind and shout rape and then you're in deep shit, and it doesn't matter if you're a male or a female therapist.
Tips to avoid sexual connotations and limit risk to yourself
- Be clear about the presentation of yourself and your massage so you do not give the wrong impression.
- So don't dress like a hooker. While the therapists attire in the image right is cool and ideal for working in a warm room, in practise its asking for trouble with any other than your most trusted clients.
- The following points may help you find your feet until you mature, but they will limit your energy and ability.
- Wear clothing that covers you from neck to toe
- Be formal with your clients and maintain an emotional distance
- Ensure your clients keep their underwear on and on the table have them very well covered up
- Avoid massaging the erogenous zones
- Keep your conversation light and superficial
- Where arousal occurs, make your massage techniques firmer and away from the erogenous zones and complete the treatment without any fuss or retribution toward the client.
- If you are at all fearful, proceed to learn shiatsu or sports massage or only massage friends and family you are comfortable with and realize you are not cut out to work as a professional in this industry.
Massage by its very nature is sensual and it can easily become sexual which with your own partner is lovely, but with clients it can be a problem for a therapist. As a therapist you must treat clients with dignity and respect, but also educate them and if they don't learn and don't behave, they can no longer be clients.
Massage is a healing therapy and at some point many clients need their sexual energy integrated which generally comes in the field of tantra, but often a little energy work and chakra balancing can work wonders and support the platonic relationship.