Sunday, May 24, 2009


There are several definitions of sustainability, one understanding of it is “a type of progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs” (CES, 2006). The following are examples of economic, human, social and environmental sustainability that are relative to me and my massage practice.

From an economic point of view, the reasons I have decided to build my own massage practice are for the following benefits:

* Set my own hours
* Be my own boss
* Focus on approaches to care, or types of treatment that I prefer
* Make more of the money from my massage therapy sessions

The first step requires investment in some supplies and equipment. Determining what type of service I want to offer the Client will allow me to maximize the impact of my purchase. Initially, as I am a student, I want to spend the least amount of money possible on my equipment to get my business off the ground. Running my own massage practice will eventually require earning an appropriate income to keep my practice afloat. To sustain my practice I need to set goals. By balancing the number of appointments, hours booked, pricing for appointments, and practice expenses will determine my income requirement.

The second step will be my training and credentials. Completing my Diploma in Massage Therapy and by becoming a member of MNZ will ensure my clients feel safe in the knowledge that I am following certain ethical standards. By applying the following ethics will help establish a professional practice based on trust and credibility:

* Client-centered care
* Informed consent
* Scope of Practice
* Confidentiality
* Boundaries
* Power Differentials
* Relationships
* Transference & Counter-transference

By reducing pain, relieving stress and cleaning out toxins, to name a few, will have a positive effect on my client and their human relationship with others. Positive people attract positivity. Educating my client to be body aware and encouraging my client to push play, and by giving them stress management/therapeutic exercises, will help to support my clients health and well-being. From an Employers perspective, providing and promoting training to your staff member by managing their workloads and avoiding over-booking, and encouraging self-care training will help to ensure their health needs are being met. This, in turn, will transfer positivity to the client. On the flip side, by good body mechanics, regular exercise, including stretching and strength work and being nutritionally aware will support my own health.

The third step is to form social referral partnerships with key professionals, which is a long-term and sustainable way to build a business. There are two types of referral partnerships: primary & secondary. Primary partnerships are formal, professionally structured relationships. The partnership has to be a win, win, win and has to benefit the therapist, your referral partner and their client. Secondary partnerships are more casual; for example, leaving your business card at a business that can be reciprocated.

Finally, environmental sustainability - “Environmental sustainability is the ability to maintain the qualities that are valued in the physical environment” (CES, 2006). An ideal society satisfies the needs of its people, without depleting or degrading its natural resources. The following are examples of environmental awareness that I am implementing in my massage practice:

* Using energy saver light bulbs.
* Washing linen in cold water, hanging on the line and avoiding the use of a drier. I am now using sheets as a preference to towels as they dry a lot quicker.
* Bio-degradable cleaning products used on my equipment, bathroom and also around the home.

By building relationships with my clients based on trust, and understanding and anticipating their future needs will help me achieve my goal in forming a successful, sustainable massage practice.


Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability (CES), 2006. What is Environmental Sustainability. Retrieved May 24, 2009, from

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Time Management is something we all do as individuals on a daily basis to a certain level, at some point in our lives, even without realizing it. Getting out of bed in the morning, eating, going off to primary school, tertiary education, work, hobbies or sport etc., all require a certain timeframe.

I initially thought my time management skills were reasonably good, but it didn’t take me long to discover what I thought was time management, was only the tip of the iceberg. For me personally, time management is a skill that I have had to learn and still am learning (with the help of the tutorials that have been on offer at Polytech, Elluminate sessions incorporating resource material supplied by David McQuillan and MindTools (1995-2009)). By no means has it come naturally. When I first started the course in Massage Therapy I had no idea of the intensity or balance that was going to be required of me. I don’t really know what I expected, but it certainly has not been to the degree that has unfolded.

Finding the right balance in my life and balancing my study with the busy demands of a young family and my own personal needs has been challenging, to say the least. There is just not enough time in the day! But I am also very aware of over-committing myself. Being the practical person that I am, ideally I would prefer to devote a lot more time to practical massage, which I am only managing to squeeze in here and there. My family is also very important to me, they too have had to make sacrifices due to my new “study” life. Hence, I am mindful of not spending enough quality time with my family (tears coming to my eyes). Stress has not only put a strain on me but my family as a whole. Therefore, time management is something that I am continuously working hard at. I have a daily, weekly and year planner that I am constantly referring to. I am genuinely pretty good at sticking to my daily planner, but it is not always set in concrete. Due to sickness or other matters arising there is a definite need for flexibility.

My daily routine starts at the breakfast table when I consult my schedule to see what muscle I need to learn for the day. Once the boys are at school I try to be seated at my desk by 9am, as if I was in a virtual classroom, ready to start the next assignment on my daily planner (which I have prioritized and incorporated variety). As I have structured my study between the hours of 9am to 3pm I need to be self disciplined. There are times outside of these hours, for instance when I am preparing dinner, for revision of anatomy from the day. I also study at nights or weekends to catch up on or complete a task that has taken me a lot longer than I had anticipated. A “to do list” has also helped me as I have got so much going on in my head that I am forgetting about other commitments outside of my study, which I normally would have remembered.

One of my weaknesses, at present, is procrastination. It is easy to keep putting my study off by doing something else that is more enjoyable/easy. If someone had of said to me 3 months ago that I would be able to write a 1000 word essay I would have laughed and replied “ARE YOU SERIOUS???!!!”. This also comes down to self confidence and belief. Although, once I get started on my study I sometimes find it hard to stop.

This course has been a radical change in my career/life. I understand and know that it is going to take time and patience to develop good study habits. “Investing in time management activities will actually save you time, helping you work smarter, not harder…” (MindTools, 1995-2009). My self-discipline and motivation, together with my time management, is what is going to help me achieve my Diploma. By next term I am anticipating that I will be working a lot “smarter”. This will prepare me even more for the year ahead..


MindTools. (1995-2009). Time Management. Retrieved May 20, 2009 from

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


As within any profession, certain ethical and moral standards are set, and none more so to an individual Massage Therapist. As a massage professional, by staying within the boundaries that are set between you and your Client, or a profession as a whole, you can ethically serve clients best by understanding their rights and needs. Ethics is defined, “as a moral principle or set of moral values held by an individual or group” (Collins, 1991). The following are Ethics for a Massage Therapist to consider:

Client-Centered Care
Focusing on the best interests of the Client by providing the highest quality of service possible. Most importantly identifying their goals and aiming to meet those goals will help in the process to make them feel safe and well-attended. By sharing in the decision-making process and the planning of the course of treatment with your client will build a professional relationship based on trust and respect.

Informed Consent
The Client should always consent to any treatment that they receive (defined in the Health & Disability Commissioners Act, 1994) and understand exactly what they are agreeing to e.g. clinical procedures (before, during and after the massage), terms of payment, record taking and assessment and the likely effects of massage. If the Client is a minor, consultation with the care-giver and getting them to observe throughout the treatment process would be advisable. This can also apply to a client with a disability.

Scope of Practice
Knowing our own limits and physical abilities (training and experience) when forming a professional relationship with a client ensures the client safety. If the treatment the client is requiring is outside our knowledge, recognize this and refer a client elsewhere if or when the need arises. “Taking on a client whom we cannot serve well is unethical” (Salvo, 2007).

The Client’s name, details of their treatment and information shared during sessions must NOT be divulged to anyone (Privacy Act 1993). If a third party (other healthcare provider) is involved and wanting to access the Client’s records, written consent MUST be obtained from the Client first before releasing them. Also, avoid initiating contact with a client in a social setting as this too is a breach of confidentiality.

“Boundaries clarify each person’s role, responsibilities, expectations, and limitations…”. “Being aware of boundaries and limitations is crucial to having healthy relationships…” (Salvo, 2007). By having client and therapist boundaries it defines our personal and professional space – our sense of autonomy. These professional boundaries should be communicated with your client which will promote the trust necessary for a therapeutic relationship.

Power Differentials
Power Differentials can be physical or psychological. If the client is lying down in an inferior position and the therapist is standing in a superior position this can create an impression of authority. This is usually not a problem, however, problems can arise when the therapist uses their power in their own interests rather than the clients. Also, if the client is in a deep state of relaxation the client may not be able to say no easily.

The relationship between client and therapist needs to be approached by a treatment plan that acknowledges, respects and focuses on the needs and expectations of the client. Relationships also go beyond client care by encompassing professional relationships with health care providers or physicians from referral.

Transference & Counter-transference
Transference can occur when the client makes the professional relationship personal. They may start thinking of you as more than just a friend. This can be transferred by acts of kindness (gifts), talking about their personal life and asking for advice. They may even ask you on a date. As a therapist you need to deal with transference issues in a mature, ethical manner by setting boundaries. You may even consider referring the client to another therapist. Another option could be to seek help from a professional supervisor.

Counter-transference is when the therapist transfers their feelings towards their client. By having a “bad day” you can subconsciously transfer negative feelings toward your client. Another example is the therapist is unable to separate the therapeutic relationship from their personal feelings surrounding the client by feeling inadequate if the client is not making progress with the treatment they are providing for them.

By demonstrating the commitment to provide the highest quality massage therapy to those who seek our professional service and adhering to the ethical relationship between yourself and client will be important in building a successful practice.

Salvo, S. (2007). Massage Therapy Principles & Practice (3rd ed.). Missouri: Saunders Elsevier
Collins, (1991). The Collins Dictionary & Thesaurus. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers