How to help clients change their behavior to help heal themselvesby Jean Shea Thursday, July 12, 2012
Or can you?It goes without saying that relieving a client’s pain or discomfort is your immediate goal. However, if the long-term solution requires changing a client’s bad or harmful behavior, you’ve got your work cut out for you, as you well know.
I ran across a blog post that I think offered some very good food for thought on the topic of changing client behavior. In “5 Tips for Helping Massage Therapy Patients Change Behavior,” author Kelly Robbins suggests that you make a connection with your clients at a number of levels – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically – in order to help them to change. Simply providing sound logic and facts and figures will not affect lasting change. (Anyone who is a parent knows that!)
Robbins recommends that you try explaining what is causing pain or discomfort and then take the message to the next level. Point out how the problem is preventing a client from doing something they enjoy or interfering with normal day-to-day activities, including getting work done.
Among her other suggestions are to have your client touch and feel something such as an anatomical model so that they can better understand what causing the problem. You can provide handouts or written materials that explain the problem but also have them repeat your messages. When they say it, they believe it.
There are two important takeaways for me about this particular post. First is the dedication to helping clients achieve long lasting health by extending yourself on a personal as well as professional level. The other is about getting clients to take responsibility for making changes that will affect their well-being.
Also don’t expect your clients to change – even when it’s for their own good – without making some changes in yourself. Rid yourself of any preconceptions and also your own issues when dealing with your clients if you really want to effect change.
Healing your clients really means helping them understand how to heal themselves. You can’t accomplish that unless you approach your clients with an open mind to what’s really at the heart of their problems.
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