Although some of us are emerging from our confinement, we are probably going to be gradually seeing more clients face to face. It may still be relevant to run some on line sessions, especially for those clients who are more vulnerable, which may include some of our pregnant clients.
You may enjoy doing the exercise for the Stepping Vessels which I shared in my newsletter at the beginning of the confinement. It is equally relevant now as we emerge. Stepping Vessels are all about how we adapt. They help us to be present and to transition from Yin to Yang in a quick way. I have been sharing them during my Zoom sessions for students.
Coming out of confinement.
We probably want to gradually start working again, because the rules/guidance are being developed and may change. I know of practitioners who had lots of clients booked and then the ruling changed and she wasn’t able to see them for a while. Some therapists said they may wait a couple of weeks, even after they are allowed to work, to see how it goes. We each need to do what feels right for us. Many of the practical things are what we were doing immediately before confinement, but now we need to be extra careful and wear masks and ask our clients to wear masks. A good suggestion can be to ask clients to bring a fresh sheet. As before, we will need to reduce the number of clients, not have clients in the same space, clean all the surfaces between clients and providing fresh cloths, get our clients to wash their hands before and after the session, as we always did and will continue to do.
Running on line shiatsu or massage sessions
I have been pleasantly surprised by how powerful on line sessions have been. I was a little hesitant to start with because I thought that touch was such an important part of shiatsu and massage. However touch can still be included and holding a space for someone and helping them tune into themselves is very powerful.
I try to include physical movement, as appropriate, for me during the session and then I feel like I have worked with someone.
Here are some ideas, but adapt to each person. Like any shiatsu (and massage) it is very individual.
Do remember that they are considered like face to face sessions for the purposes of insurance, so do make sure that you follow all the normal procedures in terms of record taking and so on.
Setting up the session: Zoom or phone and instructions for client.
I have been using Zoom, and I find that the sessions have lasted around one hour. Zoom is good because I can send the audio of the session to the client afterwards. Another option I am about to explore is Discord.
I like to be able to see the person because I pick up a lot of information that way. I also like to be able see what position they are in so I can position myself in a way in which I can work.
I like to be quite physical. I move around their body as I would do in a normal session. I know that some people tune in through using a telephone, and I have done that, but I find it for me a little less effective. Also I like to move around and get into the different working positions. I don’t like to be static. I like to follow the body.
I use my laptop so I can move around. I have my usual equipment, futon, balls, cushions, teaching aids (such as baby and pelvis).
I ask them to set up the space so it is comfortable for them to sit or lie down. If they use a ball then I encourage them to have that. I suggest that they have cushions and blankets in case they get cold.
I ask them if they want to have the session on their own or if they would like me to involve someone else eg their partner, child or a friend, who I can teach to work on them.
Some clients quite easily tune into what they need and you are more holding the space and supporting them to go deeper. You may need to suggest a few things or be guided by them.
Other clients will need more guidance. Give a suggestion, check if it is appropriate. Encourage these clients to verbalise.
Give time: allow space. Be in silence.
With all clients, ask simple questions. Use their language as much as possible. Reflect back to them what they say without changing it. Some of you may use Nick Pole’s Clean Language (what kind of? Where is? Anything else?).
Elements of the session
The session may involve:
Supporting or guiding the client with :
- Breathing and visualisations
- movement and exercises
- self touch
- them receiving shiatsu/massage which you guide them through
- working with a partner
It may be more of a teaching session if a partner is there. The partner could be a child or an adult. They could be there for some or all of the session.
It may involve you simply holding the space, or working on specific points or channels.
I have for eg, worked with pressure on the sacrum and connected with pubic bone and coccyx to support the pelvic floor. I have got in the position that I would use to do this. It can be physical for you. I visualise that I am actually working.
With some clients I talk them through what I am doing eg I am now holding your sacrum and pubic bone and connecting with the pelvic floor, or I am now working down your legs. With others I talk less but I usually give some indication of what I am doing.
I find some verbal check at the end is helpful. For some clients this is the ending. For others after this they like to stay where they are and allow the work to continue after your time with them has ended. That is one of the benefits of on line: they can stay resting as long as they want at the end.
A possible structure
Sit and have a brief chat about what is going on.
Listen to what they say but also observe: their posture, their gestures, how they say what they say. Use this as a time for you to tune in to the client .
I ask the client what they feel they want first, and then compare with what I am feeling.
Decide with client whether to continue sitting or whether it is important to stand or move.
I tend to mirror the client’s movements as it helps me tune into where they are at. Also it can be good for you to move too!
Then you may go into doing some exercises/movements together.
The client may be drawn to touching certain areas, or perhaps you hold certain areas (channels/points/muscles).
At some point the client may want to lie down.
You can continue the work, either with you holding certain areas or simply holding space.
Make sure you have a definite ending. If the client has gone into a deep space you may want to give them the option to stay there. Some clients want to do this and not verbalise what has happened and others like to come back and compare and talk.
I may reinforce the exercise or visualisations that we have done.
Try it ! You may be surprised.