For Clients with Anxiety, Depression, and Symptoms of Trauma
My familiarity with bodywork actually stems from my own struggles with anxiety, depression, and trauma. When I was in the midst of a crisis, my therapist referred me to a bodyworker to help me develop a better mind-body connection. I became fascinated by the way in which my body held stored memories that I wasn't even conscious of, and how bodywork could help me work through these memories in a safe, controlled manner.
There are many important benefits to massage therapy and Cranial Sacral Balancing for people who struggle with anxiety, depression, symptoms of trauma, and other mental health-related issues. Studies have shown that massage therapy can:
Reduce trait anxiety and depression with a course of care providing benefits similar in magnitude to those of psychotherapy.
Increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety.
Significantly decrease heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure.
Reduce depression in individuals with HIV, lessen anxiety in cancer patients, reduce anxiety and depression in military veterans and lower work-related stress for nurses.
(Source: American Massage Therapy Association, "Massage Therapy + Mental Health")
I have used my own personal experience with anxiety, depression, and trauma in addition to my bodywork training to create a practice that accommodates the needs of people who struggle with mental health-related issues. Here are several ways in which I do so:
I encourage (and prefer!) clients to book online. You can choose whatever time works best for you, modify your appointment as many times as you want up to 24 hours in advance, and compulsively check your calendar to remind yourself when your appointment is (maybe that's just me). All the information you need about your appointment is here on this website. If you have other questions or concerns, you can call, text, or email me as well.
At your first appointment, I do a short verbal intake, asking you basic, non-invasive questions like: Have you had a massage before? Are there areas of your body you want me to focus on or stay away from? Do you have any recent injuries or acute health conditions I need to know about? Instead of asking you to fill out a bunch of forms, I just leave time for a short conversation where you can fill me in on anything I need to know. This is a great time to tell me that you hate your feet being touched, or that you broke your collarbone last summer. Of course, all this information will be kept confidential, and is only used to help me give you the best session possible.
After the intake, I leave the room for several moments for you to get settled on the table. I tell clients to undress to their comfort level and then lay down on the table under the top sheet, facedown. You are always welcome to wear as much clothing as you need to feel comfortable. I will either work over your clothing, or avoid that area of your body, depending on your comfort level. During 60-minute massages, I work on the back, legs, feet, arms, hands, shoulders, and neck. During 90-minute massages or by request, I may add in work on the glute and pec muscles, which requires slightly modified draping. These areas are often overlooked and underworked, but it is always up to you to decide. I do not generally work on the head or stomach, and I never work near the groin or on breast tissue. With all my draping, I uncover only the area of your body that I am working on.
This is the unofficial name of my personal policy regarding talking during massages. Once you are on the table, it is 100% up to you whether we talk or not. I will check in regarding pressure and your general comfort level, but aside from that, I let the client decide whether they want to chat. If you do--great! If you don't--great! This is your time, not mine.
Confidentiality, Respect, and Consent
Everything that is said in my office stays in my office. I don't discuss my clients, disclose their names, or reveal any details of their sessions with anyone else. Any client notes I keep are password-protected. As long as I am not worried for my safety or my client's safety, I maintain complete confidentiality.
The basis of my practice is healthy, respectful boundaries. This is reflected in the relationships I have with my clients, in the dialogue we have before or after your session, and in the work we do on the table. You are always in charge of a session. Unless you are asking me to do something I cannot ethically or legally do, I will listen to your requests. Every part of a bodywork session, from the amount of pressure used to the areas of the body worked on to the volume of the music, is within your control. I encourage my clients to ask for what they want and need. I respect all my clients, and know that as they are the ones inhabiting their bodies, they are the experts on what feels right.
Tipping and Payment Policies
I don't expect tips. I want to be a regular, affordable part of your self-care regimen, and I find that the anxiety surrounding whether or not to tip and how much can be a deterrent for clients. I also know that cost can be a barrier to getting regular bodywork, especially when you're already spending money on other health-care related expenses like therapy.
I accept credit card, cash, check, and Venmo. I offer student discounts and prepaid package discounts. I also offer a limited number of sliding scale sessions with no questions asked.
Cranial Sacral Balancing
I also offer Cranial Sacral Balancing, which is an awesome alternative to massage therapy. It is restorative work focused on guiding your body towards releasing held energy and back into positions of comfort. It is done clothed, and it is far less physically stimulating than a massage. We are encouraging a parasympathetic shift away from fight or flight in your nervous system, so I use long holds, small movements, and gentle traction instead of sweeping massage strokes. It can help bring you out of your head and into the safety of your body in a controlled, gentle manner.