Communication Skills & Grief Massage
Communication skills can make the difference between merely sharing information or genuinely and warmly helping another person to feel safe and understood.
As a counselor-in-training, I have spent the past two years refining my communication skills. How I communicate is important in my future work as a grief counselor so it has been a major focus point and anchor of my training.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that many of the communication skills I’m learning in the context of my counselor training are also transferable to other settings.
This is good news because, in my experience, communication skills are important in other work I do too. Especially my Grief Massage work.
Grief Massage Communication Skills Do Not Include Any Counseling Or Coaching
Since I began my counselor training program nearly two years ago, I’ve been able to evaluate and even improve the ways in which I communicate with all humans, especially my Grief Massage clients.
I don’t provide any counseling as part of Grief Massage – the work I do in the massage therapy setting is entirely focused on supporting the physical aspect of my clients- but basic communication skills come into play in many ways.
I’ve come to refine the way I communicate with my Grief Massage clients from initial contact to intake, as well as during, after sessions and between sessions, to help to create a nurturing ecosystem of support and healing.
I define a nurturing Grief Massage Ecosystem as one in which both the physical touch aspects of the massage and the rapport I create with my words and communicative actions, work together to help my client feel safe and understood.
My communications with Grief Massage clients are intended to share important information, such as what to expect in a session, where my office is located, how to let me know if they need something during a session, where they can find me after they exit the treatment room, etc.
But there is a deeper intention too. My communications are intended to help the client to feel safe and understood.
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to train as a counselor while still actively offering Grief Massage to clients.
It has provided a unique opportunity for me to explore how the communication skills I’m learning for counseling can transfer to the massage sphere, without straying outside of the body-based massage therapy scope of practice.
Basic Communication Skills Matter – And Can Be Refined
Again, one of the biggest changes that’s occurred has simply been in my awareness of how important basic communication skills actually are.
It’s easy to overlook the impact of our communication skills. It’s understandable that our everyday emphasis can be on simply sharing facts and information rather than on sharing our attention and empathy right along with the information we want to communicate.
My counselor training program has helped me to see the importance of the “how” in how we communicate.
The way I interact with and communicate with my Grief Massage clients has become more sensitive and intentional. My communications are rooted in my desire is to be empathetic, clear, and kind.
From the eclectic mixture of classes in my counselor training program, wisdom from my counseling professors, and exposure to other communication-skill-related information through my own personal reading, I’ve cultivated and refined some specific communication skills that feel important.
I have created a list of the communication skills that mean the most to me right now.
These are the communication skills I feel are the most important for building rapport with a client, for helping them to feel safe and ease in the therapeutic Grief Massage relationship.
To be clear, I’m going to repeat what I said earlier.
I do not incorporate any psychotherapy or counseling into my work with Grief Massage clients. You should not either.
Please understand that it is outside the massage therapy scope of practice (and is unethical as well, and could harm clients a great deal) for a massage therapist to conduct counseling or psychotherapy.
If you’ve taken my Grief Massage training course, you likely remember the significant amount of time that we devoted to discussing the limits of our scope of practice as massage therapists, and how to keep our focus and attention on the body.
The communication skills I’m writing about here in the context of Grief Massage are not in any way intended to be used as a form of coaching or counseling.
I like to be very clear about this because defining the boundaries of our scope of practice as massage therapists (and staying safely within them) is a very significant aspect of practicing Grief Massage.
So again, these communication skills are not intended as a form of counseling.
My Top 10 Communication Skills (Right Now) For Grief Massage
So…now that we are completely clear on the fact that these communication skills are used only to facilitate building a warm relationship (rapport) with our Grief Massage clients so they feel safe and understood in our presence (along with sharing important session-related information of course), I would love to share the list of those I feel are most important.
I’ll be creating separate blog posts to focus on my understanding of each one, so if you are interested in learning more about a particular one, follow the (soon to be added) link to the blog article devoted solely to that communication skill.
1. Listening to understand (deep listening)
2. Eye contact
3. A warm handshake
4. Inviting a client into the treatment room the same way I would invite a friend into my living room
5. Using my tone to communicate emotion
6. Being comfortable with silence
7. Asking permission
8. Expectation setting
9. Using stories and metaphor to describe abstract or complicated concepts
10. Having an “elevator speech” to describe Grief Massage simply and succinctly
If you feel curious about any, or all of these communication skills and how I use them, I invite you to explore the blog posts devoted to each one (coming soon).
In the meantime, I invite you to reflect on your own communication skills.
Are you intentional when you communicate with your massage clients?
Whether your communication occurs by email, text, phone, or in-person, I invite you to do a gentle self-audit.
Pay attention to whether you are communicating merely to share information or whether your communication also holds the intention of helping to build rapport with your client (helping them to feel safe and understood).
Don’t judge yourself too harshly if you discover that your communication skills have been less intentional than you may like.
We live in a busy, hectic world and it’s easy to slip into habits that may be efficient (communicating only the facts without an emphasis on the “how” we are sharing the information) but less focused on building rapport.
It’s good news that communication skills can be actively refined and improved over time. And it’s exciting to discover that our communication skills are so powerful.
I look forward to sharing more about communication skills for Grief Massage in the forthcoming blog posts.
In the meantime, take gentle care.