As a massage therapist, I am often exposed to the most raw, vulnerable side of my clients. It goes without saying that this is a tremendous responsibility. Each client has unique concerns and inhibitions that it is my job to help them move past through bodywork. Each client has special goals in pursuing massage therapy treatment. In joining in with my clients on their healing journey, I find myself doing something called “holding space.”
What Does It Mean To “Hold Space”?
One who holds space is a person who simply walks alongside another on their path. The person holding space is acting as a facilitator, who witholds judgment and offers gentle support without manipulating the outcome. When I’m holding space for my clients, I am offering unconditional support and allowing my clients to be vulnerable without fear of chastisement. We are essentially co-creating a “safe space” so the client can heal in their own unique way.
How Do I Do This?
I know who I am. I know who my client is. I know what my role is to them. And more importantly, I know what my role is not. The relationship between my client and myself has healthy limits, ensuring that both of us are growing in our own ways. These boundaries are both professional and emotional. In maintaining these limits, there is no room for me to unintentionally influence or steer my client on their journey. It allows me to merely come alongside them and offer my unbiased support.
Though it might seem to contradict my first point, I also develop close relationships with my clients. Because I am confident in my role, I can care deeply about my clients without compromising the relationship in any way. I witness pain and prosperity. I cheer for my clients on as they grow and move forward, and I support them in their most challenging setbacks – physically and otherwise. In doing so, I aim to provide a safe space where my clients can step away from their difficulties – or freely release them.
Knowing What To Expect
Bodywork can sometimes – though certainly not always – bring complex emotions to the surface. Bearing witness to these emotions with compassion and without judgement is something I take very seriously. I try to provide strength and courage in these moments – while also providing therapeutic touch to nurture them.
Other times, bodywork provides a time of much-needed relief from the daily grind of life. My clients are free to bring their exhausted laughter and feelings of relief to the table. Honesty is permitted – no, it’s greatly encouraged.
Why Am I Sharing This?
Choosing a therapist is often a difficult decision. Making the resolution to try bodywork in the first place can be a bold, brave step on your healing journey. I want my clients to understand my perspective before they choose to trust me.
Being a massage therapist means that I offer care for the physical and emotional needs of a client. I want my potential clients to know: First, that I am passionate about my job as a therapist and a person who holds space; second, that I take them and their needs seriously.
I became a massage therapist for women because I wanted to care for the caretakers in our communities. In creating holding space, I want to help women improve their health and change their lives.