I have unusual leisure in my practice — I can usually take as long as I feel necessary for an initial intake. Despite the added stress of being in business for myself, this leisure is one of the things that makes it all worth while. Here’s a story about that. All client details have been changed.
My new client arrived late. She had trouble finding the building, then had to circle around a few times to find parking. She walked in already a bit anxious because of the time, and because it was her first massage. I left her in the quiet of the waiting area to finish the health history form and assured her there would be time for most of the scheduled session.
She handed back her completed form, and we began our conversation. I took my time, making sure to ask about everything she had marked on the form. After I felt sure that I understood her health history, I told her what to expect during the massage: how to get onto the table, what parts of her body I would touch and in what order, how draping worked, etc.
She smiled and nodded through this whole explanation. As I finished she said, “That all sounds so good.” She paused. “I want you to know, though, that when you get to the front part of my legs I might tense up a little,” she raised her shoulders and tensed her arms, then released them, “See, I’ve been sexually assaulted and I just might be a little nervous.” She had a friendly smile on her face and tears in her eyes.
I settled further down into my seat. We had more conversation about how she was in charge of the massage, and that she could tell me at any time to change or stop what I was doing. “You get to direct how and where you are touched,” I told her.
If I had to rush the intake, I might have missed this vital fact about how she experienced her own body. I certainly would have missed the chance to reinforce for her that she has dominion over her own body. I might have never been able to build enough trust with this other human that she revealed her own fears to me.
She arrived late, and the intake took longer than “normal.” In that extra time, she was able to trust me a little more and reveal something vitally important. This helped me approach her with more compassion and awareness. She emerged from the massage smiling wide. She thanked me and gave me a hug, and made an appointment to come back again. This never would have happened if I rushed the intake.