Using Healing Imagery to Enhance the Massage Experience

Many times during a massage session I get the idea that the patient is not as involved in the therapeutic process as I am! In fact it is not at all unusual. How can a restless patient become engaged in their own healing during a massage? How can a patient assist their therapist to relax them during a massage? One way is by simply listening to Guided Therapeutic Imagery as it is soothingly uttered by the therapist!

I have many corporate clients because I visit a large local corporation two days each week. Many people sign up for a short 15 minute session and some sign up for a half hour appointment. Though these massages are of relatively short duration, almost all of the patients want a therapeutic effect to occur. They want the crick in their neck to be gone, or the sore lower back to be soothed. Other patients simply want to relax and de-stress for awhile, which is a valid and effective goal. An employee who seeks massage as a way to relieve stress at work does not indicate a person who lacks motivation or productivity. In fact it shows they know what many health research institutes have concluded about massage in the workplace: it boosts productivity and morale, and it reduces time off and sick leave. In the stressful atmosphere of a corpoarte setting, (and even sometimes in my office during 60, 90 and 120 minute appointments) people have very little time to actually unwind and get the ‘fight or flight’ stress response turned off during their massage. They are often unable to support their own healing because they are unable to wind down. They are still ‘at work’ even when they are receiving the caring touch from a professional bodyworker. One good way to enlist the patient in their healing is to ask them to focus on their breathing. This will usually quiet their mind and slow them down enough to at least begin moving them toward a healthy level of relaxation. With this higher level of relaxation comes a greater ability for their tense muscles to release during the massage. Another way to enlist support from the client is to use Guided Therapeutic Imagery so they can focus their mind on something that asists the body. In a matter of moments, instead of cranking out worker-bee thoughts at 100mph, which may be great for success for the corporate grind, the patient can fill their mind with peaceful and supportive images that act as an antidote for the stress and dedicated concern they feel every day at work. Guided Therapetic Imagery can be used for the patient to keep their mind alert and yet it simultaneously relaxes the body. I hear my patients heave big sighs during any massage that includes Guided Therapeutic Imagery. Those sighs are signs of great physiological relief, allowing musculature to relax and higher oxygentaion. With Guided Therapetic Imagery the patient can leave their concerns and workplace battle plans in a wicker basket or sealed cardboard box right outside the door until they are ready to pick them up again when they leave the room. They can be on a warm beach listening with their inner ear to the surf gently lapping at the shore while the breeze wafts over their sun-warmed body. Or they can rest on the weathered wooden planks of an old sailboat as it drifts in an emerald lagoon and the birds of paradise call to one another in the forest nearby. Maybe, if the client requires truly idle time, they may find themselves lying on a thick warm blanket looking up at the stars on a quiet summer night… You see, when we engage the mind to assist the body to heal, the effects can be profound. A moment of peace in a busy day ends up as an invigorating experience. It does not lead to further daydreams and feelings of being too wiped out to go on. Guided Therapeutic Imagery during a relaxation massage provides a healthy break so life can be continued with new zest, and yes, greater joy. As a massage therapist, I add Guided Therapeutic Imagery to my sessions when a patient needs it. As a natural story teller, I thoroughly enjoy sharing the imagery. And in sharing relaxing images of beauty my patients then assist me by participating in their own healing process at a much deeper level. Call me at 614-431-8814 and make the time to heal. If you would like to set up an appointment so you can experience the fun and adventure of my Guided Therapeutic Imagery during a massage, you will enjoy it. If you wish to relax, I will help you. Good Health to You! Dan Petric, LMT