Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sustainable Massage Practice

To run a massage business, or in fact any business it has to be sustainable for it to last. “Sustainability, in general terms, is the ability to maintain balance of a certain process or state in any system.” (sustainability, 2009). When making your business plan you should look at different aspects of sustainability: economic, social, environmental, to see how you can make each area more sustainable.

In my opinion economic sustainability is the most important. If you aren't making any money you aren't going to last. A business plan is important. Setting realistic goals to keep yourself focused. “The most important thing to consider is the minimum amount of business you need to maintain – that way, you will know on a daily basis if you are swimming or sinking.” (Fanuzzi, J. 2002). Early in your business you need to identify what are the daily costs of running the business. For example, electricity for heating and washing linen, lubricants in your massage and also your time. There is also the set up costs of purchasing your table, linen and getting your room respectable for clients. Once identifying these costs, you need to make sure they are covered in the price you are charging for a massage.

Keeping business costs down also helps increase your overall income. You can't spare things that are going to lessen the massage experience you are going to provide, but you can be sensible when it comes to saving costs. For example advertising can be expensive. I am lucky as where I live in Ranfurly there are means of advertising for free. There is the local radio station and a local flyer where you can advertise your business. I also plan on putting a few flyers around the town in places like the hairdresser and the play centre. These forms of advertising are only going to cost me the cost of the piece of paper! Also in a small town I can rely heavily on word of mouth.

Social sustainability largely comes down to being an effective communicator. From the first instance you meet a new client and through all the sessions you have with them, they need to be assured that you are listening to them and that you respect them. You want to build a strong therapeutic relationship to keep them coming back to you. Often people don't remember what you did but how you made them feel. Giving them compassion and respect is just as important as actually giving the massage. Social sustainability also refers to the relationships you have with other health care professionals including other massage therapists. You want to make sure that you always come across as a professional. If you a working with another professional that you are referring a client too, you want make sure your notes are well documented and clear. Gaining respect from other professionals is important for future referrals. Once you have proven your professional capabilities they will be much more happier to work with you.

Environment sustainability has become increasingly important as research has discovered we are consuming at such as alarming rate which is having a negative effect on the environment. We all need to do our part to reduce the effect. Although there is not a lot of material used in a massage. Linen often needs replaced as if it starts looking old and worn it stops looking professional. One way to combat this waste is to donate your old linen to salvation army or some such thing. At least it is not being thrown away as waste. Recycling where possible also helps you be environmentally friendly. Minimising waste and maximising the use of our materials anywhere possible will at least do your part for the environment. Although we also use electricity and water we can only really try to minimise what we are using as we still need it.

One way I intend to make my massage practice more sustainable is by reducing business costs. The biggest cost I can see at this stage is electricity. I have moved my massage room to the east side of the house for it to get the morning sun. This way I am saving on heating the room. Even though there is not a lot of drying weather at the moment I am trying to dry my linen in front of the fire for a while and just finish it in the dryer to decrease the time I am using the dryer.

As already mentioned I plan to have absolute minimal advertising costs. When I find business a little slack I will also advertise 'monthly specials' to get some more people through the door. And if you can make someone's first experience a good one you will increase you chances of seeing them again. Specials are also a way on getting back some old clients who have become less frequent in their visits. Lastly I intend to continue my training to increase my scope of practice. Continuing my education keeps my brain active and keeps my skills fresh. I think it is important for clients to see you are always trying to better yourself.

So overall, sustainability is important to keeping my massage practice going. Keeping up relationships, good business practice and caring for the environment are all important to the sustainability for massage practice. These are things that can always be reviewed to make sure that we are doing everything possible to run the best massage practise that we can.


Fanuzzi, J. (2002) Step 12: Sustainability retrieved May 24 2009 from

McQuillan, D. (2009) Elluminate retrieved on May 18 2009 from

Sustainability (2009) retreived on May 24 2009 from

Monday, May 18, 2009

Time Management

Time is one of those great things because unlike almost everything else, everybody has the same amount of hours in a day. How to manage these hours however can be a bit of a challenge! It wasn't until I started studying again that I realised that my time management needed a bit of work. There is just too much stuff going on for me to remember so I needed to make some changes to make sure I was going to fit everything in.

It started with getting a diary. I think out of everything this is my number one tool. I have gone through my diary and put EVERYTHING I need to remember in it. And as I am such a visual person or maybe just because I like colouring in, I colour coded it. As far as course goes I have assessment due dates highlighted in pink. The weeks before assessments I have what's coming up, so I can make a start, highlighted in yellow. Birthdays are in orange, elluminate in blue and everything else relevant such as days I am at work and massage appointments I put in pen. From there I have all the important, unchangeable things noted.

As well as my diary every week on a separate piece of paper I put all the work I need to do each week with regards to my course. This is everything posted on the blogs and the assessment work. I try put these in order of priority such as something that is due in on Wednesday I will definitely make time for on Monday or Tuesday. I don't like having things specifically programmed in at a certain time I just make sure that everything I need to do is on my 'to do' list and then just cross it off when I am done.

Tasks that I find difficult I will look at once and then go back to at a later date. Seems easier the second time you look at it. I also have identified the subjects that need complete concentration, these I do in the morning when I work best and have little distraction. Other subjects I leave until when Fergus is home from work. Especially anatomy, I make flashcards and then most nights in the ad breaks at some stage Fergus will test me on them. This is a good way to include him in my study as well.

One thing I have found as a distraction is visitors. On many occasions someone will just pop in because they know I am at home. The way I have overcome this is multi-tasking. In the morning after walking the dog I start my study. When someone else calls in this is when I do the dishes, fold the washing etc I have found there is no point wasting my quite time on housework. The other thing that has been effective is always having an arrangement of books on the dining room table. If people call in and see course stuff everywhere they realise I am busy and don't stay long. I don't mind them coming for a short time though, always good to have a break!

So now overall my time management isn't looking to bad. At least I'm not forgetting to do anything. I think time management is always going to be a 'work in progress'. You just have to be able to identify areas of time that you can't change and make the best use of the rest of the time that you can.

The Ethics of Professional Practice

As a massage therapist we work with our clients at a very personal level. So because of the nature of our work laws and code of ethics have been put in place to help avoid conflicts of interest. As a profession we want to be giving the best service to our clients in a safe environment. To help us do this we need to establish boundaries with our clients, define our scope of practice and always have clear communication so there is no confusion about our work. “In general, ethics in somatic therapies involve behaving honourably; adhering to prevailing laws; upholding the dignity of the profession; respecting each client; staying committed to high-quality care; working within the appropriate scope of practice; being client-centred; and remaining service-oriented.” (Benjamin, 2002).

It all comes down to giving client-centred care. Taking into consideration client goals and treating the client with respect and compassion. The client is coming to us for a service, although we will develop a relationship with our client it is that of a therapeutic relationship rather than a friendship. This means that the relationship is unequal and it needs to stay that way in order for us to maintain our professionalism. We give the treatment and although we get money in return it is the client that needs to be getting all the attention. We only do what is in the best interest of the client.

There is a power differential in the relationship because the therapist has education and training in massage over what the client has. We can therefore be treated as almost a teacher figure so being aware that some clients may take everything we say as gospel we need to make sure we don't abuse this power. “Self-accountability is the cornerstone of ethics: it is who you are and what you do when no one is watching. When you have a well-developed sense of self-accountability, you are honest with yourself, and are answerable and responsible for what you say and do. You have the ability to look beyond the immediate moment to consider the consequences and know if you are willing to pay them. You have personal ethics. Personal ethics is the precursor to professional ethics, since we are not likely to be more ethical in our professional life than our personal life.”(Benjamin, 2003).

As well as it being in the clients best interest it is also in the Health and Disability Act 1994, that we receive informed consent from our clients before being treatment. This means not just getting consent to give a massage but also explaining what areas you will be working and why you may want to work in these areas. There are many areas of the body that a client may not feel comfortable with being massaged eg gluts, abdomen, feet. Although we can educate our clients to help them understand why it may be beneficial to work in these areas we can only work there if we get consent. Educating our clients helps our client still feel in control. Make the plan of treatment together. Its a good idea to inform our clients of our qualifications, training and policies of our practice. This will help to eliminate surprises and misconceptions in our treatment.

Clients also need to be informed of our scope of practice. We know ourselves what our limits are. Sometimes we may be perceived to have more qualifications or experience than we do. We cant afford to get caught in the trap of doing things out of our league otherwise we could end up harming the client. Its important that we work within our scope of practice and that we have communicated to our clients what are limitations are.

Confidentiality is always important. This is part of the Privacy Act 1993, that client records are kept confidential but records may be given to authorised people. It also could be a good idea not to greet a client in public. We may acknowledge them with a smile but it should only be the client that initiates contact as they may wish to avoid us so nobody realises they are a client and we must respect that decision.

Boundaries are in place to clarify our roles and responsibilities. We need to be clear what our boundaries are, sticking to our scope of practice. This is where communication is also important. It is a common mistake to start giving advice in areas such as psychology in which we are not trained. “Healthy relationships always involve healthy boundaries.” (Salvo, 2007).

Transference and counter transference can occur in the relationship. Transference is where the client has become dependant on the therapist or are trying to take the professionalism away from the relationship and turn it into a personal one. Warning signs could be when the client extends a dinner invitation or buys you a gift. You need to address the situation without offending the client maybe by having policies about not excepting gifts or spending time with clients outside of work. On the other hand you as the therapist could become over attached to the client. Warning signs could be frustration when client is not advancing in their program as you would have liked. Having a “need to fix” can impair you ability to be client focused. Someone who has always lived in a lot of pain may not be interested in working towards fixing it but rather just having a relaxation massage to feel good. It always comes back to the clients goals. In either instance it is ideal to have some sort of supervision, a confidential outsider that may be able to pick up on these warning signs before anything to serious results from it. They can make us see if there is a need arising on either side and give us advise and support on how to deal with it.

So in conclusion, ethics always come back to acting professionally and making decisions with the clients best interests in mind. Having clear boundaries, scope of practice and communicating with your client can avoid any confusion. Keeping your relationship as a therapeutic one helps you to give the best treatment possible.


Class notes

Benjamin B. (2002), Ethics, Values and Principles, retrieved May 18, 2009 from

Benjamin B. (2003), Ethics and Self-Accountability, retrieved May 18, 2009 from

Salvo S. (2007), Massage Therapy Principles and Practice (3rd Edition), Missouri, Saunders Elsevier