“Hi, I hate massages.”

It’s not often that a client starts the session off by saying “I hate massages,” but that’s what happened to me today. It wasn’t the first thing they said, but it was near enough to the top to take notice.

Initially I felt the session was doomed, but before my face could contort itself into a “What are we doing this for then?” gaze, I asked what sort of experiences she had with her previous massages. She detailed more than one bruising session with unforgiving practitioners that left her worse off than when she walked in. I could understand her affinity for a massage-free existence.

Once the session began, I asked her about the pressure early on to ease her worries that this would not be like her previous encounters. “I’ll be asking you about the pressure as I go through the session so I can make sure I’ve got it right. Is that okay with you?” She answered, surprised to hear the question, “Yes, thank you.”

Once I learned she was a mother of four young children, I felt she deserved some praise just for getting herself to the session. “It’s great that you could take the time to be here. Your kids will be happy to have a more relaxed mom.” I could sense that one session would go a long way in chipping away some of the layers of tension, but regular ones would start to get to those deeper not-gonna-let-go layers that make for more comfortable existences.

“How were you able to carve this time out for yourself with such a busy schedule?” I just had to know.

“I ask my nanny to come early on Fridays when I have something scheduled,” she remarked.

As I got to know her, I discovered an amazing individual who happens to have chronic back pain as a result of caring so much for her family. I wanted her to comeback and not because I needed to fill another appointment next week or meet my quota. It’s a proven fact that the people I see frequently feel more comfortable in their bodies and don’t have nagging pains that they’ve given nicknames to.

I felt compelled to say something. “Why don’t you come back in a couple of Fridays from now. If I can get to your back and shoulders again, I feel we can decrease Spike, the nagging pain that keeps coming up on your shoulder. Take a look at my schedule when you talk to the receptionist to see what I have available. Okay?”

She booked herself for a follow up appointment as soon as she got out to the front desk. As it turns out, she didn’t hate massages after all. She’d just been given ones that were a total mismatch to what she was looking for. Fortunately, my interest in people’s lives led to a more insightful connection with one of the most memorable starts to a massage I’ve ever had.