My work in May 2016: a massage therapist recounts what she actually does

I started offering my massage and bodywork clients custom sessions at the beginning of 2016. Clients choose the length of session they want, and when they arrive, we discuss their issues. I figure out how I’d like to proceed (that is, which modalities to use, in which order), run it by the client, get their input and consent, and the work begins. The client and I both know that if we need to change direction in the middle of a session, we can — and sometimes that happens.

Before 2016, clients signed up by length of session and modality (for example, 90 minutes of craniosacral therapy). Once I felt confident about mixing modalities, it made more sense to offer custom sessions, tailoring my work to the client’s needs. But without modality descriptors, I imagine that some people wonder what I actually do in a custom session — and how I work and follow up with clients, how people find me, how my practice grows. That’s the reason for this blog post. Plus, I’ve never really tried to summarize a month of work before. It seems worthwhile.

So…here’s a summary of how my work in May 2016 went. First, the new clients (and I don’t believe I’m violating any confidentiality provisions):

  • A new client signed up for a 90-minute session. She had issues with her hips and her neck. I did Deep Massage (full-body myofascial release), following it with Zero Balancing. When she got off the table, her hips were still bothering her, but her upper body felt fantastic. She bought two more 45-minute ZB sessions. During her next session, I evaluated her pelvis and found tilts and a rotated sacrum. (She’s been in a couple of accidents.) I let her try on my sacroiliac belt to see if her hips felt more stable. She liked how it felt but was undecided. We later corresponded via email about other options, including the Sacro Wedgy. I gave her some leg and psoas stretches, which she said helped. During ZB when asking her if any place needed revisiting, she directed me to do more on her neck, where I discovered a huge knot. I worked hard on minimizing it. Our third session was entirely spent on the knot, reducing it to three small knots. She’s planning to come in soon to finish that knot off. We’ll continue to explore what can help her hips feel strong, stable, and pain-free.
  • In May, I did two of three 45-minute Zero Balancing sessions on a home visit. We miscommunicated about date of the first session, and when I arrived, she wasn’t there – but her husband had just returned from traveling and asked what was the longest session I gave. He got a two-hour session of Deep Massage and Zero Balancing, ending with craniosacral therapy. I worked on her doing ZB the next day and again about a week later. Serendipity!
  • I did an hour of integrative massage with Zero Balancing on a client/friend with low back pain, which was gone at the end of the session, his first with me. It was good to learn that ZB can be effective for low back pain.
  • I did a craniosacral therapy session on a woman who found me on Google. It seemed to me that it went well, and she seemed satisfied with it. She didn’t buy a package or schedule again, which I always hope for with new clients, but if she ever wants to, she knows where to find me.
  • I did a Zero Balancing session on another woman who found me on Google, taking advantage of my special (the first one is pay-what-you-wish, offer expires June 15). It also went well, from my point of view, and she didn’t express any dissatisfaction. She didn’t buy a package or reschedule either, and now she knows what Zero Balancing is and where to find me.
  • A young European man working and attending grad school here found me on Google when he was seeking TMJ work and craniosacral therapy for job- and school-related stress. He bought a package of three sessions and plans to come in monthly. (Awesomeness: His mother is a homeopath.)
  • A young European woman from another country, also attending grad school here, found me on Yelp. She scheduled a 45-minute session, and I did Zero Balancing and craniosacral therapy on her. She felt the craniosacral work was more needed at this time and bought a package.

Work on regular clients included the following:

  • Sometimes a client buys a package and receives the first session, and then I don’t hear back for a while. A few weeks ago, I emailed several clients to remind them that they had sessions remaining in their packages. One woman came in, and I did two sessions on her upper back, shoulders, and neck, which has a series of knots that I’m working to release. I checked her feet and sent her Morton’s Foot information as well. She’s noticing jaw issues and just got a night guard from her dentist for clenching while asleep. I hope that after we get her neck in good shape, I can do some jaw release work (and I hope she gets the insoles). I have Morton’s Foot myself, and wearing corrective insoles changed my posture for the better.
  • For years, I’ve done 90-minute home visits for a client, usually every other week. I worked on him twice in May. He likes an integrative massage (Swedish + myofascial release), leg stretches, and lately, Zero Balancing. He has worked hard at staying awake during our sessions, and nowadays, he often goes into a dream-like awake state complete with compelling imagery, which is fascinating to hear about afterwards. The most recent time, he stayed awake and followed my every stroke. Wow!
  • I did some pay-what-you-wish biodynamic craniosacral therapy sessions on a couple of clients. This is my seva (service), which I love doing. I’m still offering this special if you schedule early (sessions ending before 1 pm).
  • I did full-body integrative massages separately on a married couple who bought packages from me. They take care of themselves very well.

I did some trades in May, one of the great perks of doing massage:

  • I did three sessions on an acupuncturist client who had had TMJ issues when young and had jaw surgery, which helped, but then her jaw pain reappeared in recent years due to stress. (I’ve done craniosacral work on her before now; it took courage and commitment for her to let me work on her jaw.) We’re making progress, releasing trigger points and lengthening and softening the affected tissues. I checked out her feet and sent her a link to information about Morton’s Foot.
  • I traded a Zero Balancing session and shoulder/arm work with a fellow LMT who’s into rock climbing, and he gave me a full-body lymphatic drainage session, which I’d never had before. It helped me identify that tingles just under my skin over a broad area are the sensations of lymph moving.  I’ve felt that for years but didn’t know what it was. It felt great, and now I want to take that training!
  • I trade regularly with a massage therapist friend, with each of us getting two 90-minute massages a month from one another. I receive stretches, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and more, as needed. I offer ZB, myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, trigger point work, and integrative massage as needed. It’s a sweet, sweet deal.

May also included way more chair massage than usual. I did a 5-hour chair massage event for the staff at a child care center, 3 days of chair massages (4 hours each day) at a hospital during Nurse’s Week, and a 3-hour chair massage gig through Austin Chair Massage for a technology company.

I also volunteered to work three 4-hour shifts at Cureville, the acupuncture/bodywork station serving the volunteers who run the Kerrville Folk Festival. It’s a good deal: free admission, free camping, free meals, and one free session.

At Cureville, I worked on 11 people (one was a no-show), doing several full-body integrative massages and some Back/Shoulders/Neck massages, released a muscle spasm in the back, gave a craniosacral session that averted a migraine, and gave a Zero Balancing session to an acupuncturist who said afterwards, “I feel lighter, and there’s a really nice buzz.” They know energy! And I received a tui na/shiatsu session from an accomplished practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine.

I’m so grateful to my clients, my fellow bodyworkers who trade with me, and those who hire me for special events. I keep learning and growing, I earn a livelihood, and I make the world a better place, one person at a time.

If you’re a massage therapist reading this, please note how many new clients found me on Google and Yelp. FYI, I don’t pay Google a cent. (Having a blog and a website probably helps me rank higher on searches.) I have a free Yelp page, but to appear in Yelp searches for massage, I pay them. Hmm, something needs to change here.

All in all, May was a very good month for my practice and business — and I did not get to the point of having to turn anyone away except for one person who needed work ASAP after I was home at the end of the day and another who wanted a session in Austin while I was at Kerrville.

There’s almost always room to get you in within a couple of days if you need it. If this blog post helps you understand what I actually do beyond “massage therapy” and you feel moved to get a session with me, here’s my website with online booking and contact information.

“After massage, the laundry.”

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