How to achieve success in Thai Massage therapy and how to deal with ‘failure’
Attending classes in a Thai Massage school or course may build you a good foundation. However not all of them will take you beyond the technical aspects and show you the more subtle elements of Thai Massage training – but these will determine your success.
First of all, as someone who has spent 20 years teaching Thai Massage therapy, I am writing this for those who want to learn Thai Massage or are practicing it already. However most of the principles apply to any kind of massage.
How could success in a Thai Massage career look like?
Here are some items that should be on a success list:
How would failure in Thai Massage therapy look like?
Well, failure is what all successful people have to go through in order to achieve success. Failure is a stepping stone to success. Actually we should replace ‘failure’ with ‘challenge’.
Let’s look at three categories of challenges which you might encounter as a Thai Massage therapist:
What are professional challenges?
Challenges: For example lack of clients, lack of skills, or lack of a good working environment.
Solutions: These can be solved with better marketing, better training, and a better setup.
What are physical challenges?
Challenges: Examples are therapists who have injuries or disabilities that make it difficult or painful to practice Thai Massage.
Physical challenges are often caused by incorrect body mechanics or by working only with muscle power. Both of these can result in stress and pain.
Solutions: Often these issues can be remedied by switching from excessive use of the hands to using other body parts like forearms, elbows, knees and feet. This is one of the big advantages of Thai Massage.
Other remedies are improving body mechanics and working with body weight instead of muscle power. These are skills that can be learned with proper training, and again Thai Massage lends itself very well to these solutions.
In some cases injuries or disabilities might improve with proper training, but in some cases they might be an actual obstacle to a Thai Massage career.
What are mental challenges?
Challenges: Examples are lack of confidence, self-doubt, lack of inspiration and enthusiasm, dissatisfaction with one’s chosen career for whatever reason, or being overly attached to the results of one’s work.
Solutions: Mostly such issues can be solved by getting a better understanding of the issues, and by adjusting one’s perspective.
Out of the three challenge categories, the professional and the physical ones can often be solved with the right training and the right methods.
However the mental challenges are not so straightforward and need a different approach. That’s what the rest of this article is about.
Thai Healing Massage Academy’s online training programs are designed to help with all 3 challenges effectively:
The unique mindset of massage therapists
Massage is a helping profession. This is very different from, let’s say, working in an office where you might be just a tiny part of a big machinery and you might never get to see how (or if) what you do actually helps anyone.
Most massage therapists who have been in this profession for a some time do not just put in hours in exchange for money.
They enjoy helping people, and part of their reward is seeing the beneficial results of their work. Their heart is in it, not just their hands.
Which massage therapist would not feel fulfilled and happy seeing a client’s radiant face after a session and hearing a comment like: “This was one of the best sessions of my life. I feel like I have a new body.”
Thai Massage therapy and attachment to the results of your work
Let’s be honest. Did you ever wonder how much your work is really helping people?
- How much does it affect chronic conditions?
- How effective is your work really?
- How long lasting are the effects?
- Does it really help significantly or is the client just feeling better for a short while?
- How much does it actually impact someone’s life?
- And how much should you really care about all that?
How do you measure all these things?
And how attached can or should you become to the results of your massage therapy?
How involved should you be in your client’s well-being?
Results in Thai Massage therapy can vary greatly
Sometimes you work on a client, and you are in flow. You spontaneously know exactly what to do. Your session seems tailor made for your client, and you find all the right spots to work on.
You intuitively connect with your client, and the energy is flowing beautifully without any obstruction. Everything is perfect, and you don’t even know how it happened. It feels like a kind of magic.
Sometimes you work on a client, and you don’t do anything different – just your usual good job. And that client is blown away with your session and ends up in massage heaven and tells you so.
And then there are times when you work on someone, and despite your best efforts the client is not moved, not impressed, has nothing good to say, and you feel that there is no energy coming back to you at all.
It can make you feel hollow, depleted, and you might even wonder if there is anything wrong with your work or your chosen profession. Maybe your ‘best’ is not good enough.
Gaining perspective when doubts are creeping in
How do you handle all this mentally or psychologically? If you really care about your Thai Massage work, it will affect you in some way – like it or not.
Despite all your best ‘energy bubble’ techniques or whatever other favorite methods you may have, you have to deal with the fact that your results will vary, and sometimes you won’t have any idea why they do.
There is an old saying: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time“.
You can translate this for your massage therapy:
“You can work magic with your hands on many clients some of the time. You can work magic with your hands and energy on some clients most of the time. But you can never work magic with your hands and energy on all of your clients all of the time“.
The latter would be an unrealistic expectation and set you up for frustration and doubt.
Balance in Thai Massage therapy and the mind
That’s just how it works in life. Nobody gets to hit home runs all the time. Very few people are always successful, or successful right out of the gate without any setbacks.
It’s a balancing act … Caring about your clients without becoming so attached to the results that you take your results personally.
…Trying your best without caring more about your client’s well being than about your own.
…Accepting responsibility for a client’s condition only to such a degree that you don’t overlook the client’s responsibility for their choices of habits and lifestyle.
Instead of fighting the cycles, flow with them
You can also look at it this way. It is the nature of life to flow in cycles. Sometimes we are up, sometimes we are down.
There is high tide and low tide, there are bio rhythms and menstrual cycles and seasonal cycles and life cycling from birth to death. Life is never static, and neither is our Thai Massage therapy.
Sometimes we build up our good energy massage account, and sometimes we have to make withdrawals from it.
Sometimes we spontaneously connect with a client, and sometimes we look at the clock, waiting for the session to be over.
Helpful practices to raise your energy level
We are not just just victims of the cyclical nature of life. There are things we can do to smooth the ups and downs out.
Depending on your personal preferences this could be outdoor activity in nature, gardening, exercise, meditation, Qigong, breathing exercises, listening to beautiful music, or a clean diet. Or how about getting a wonderful massage on a regular basis?
All of these suggestions have one theme in common – as therapists we cannot just focus on helping others, but we also have to make time to take care of ourselves. The better our energy and physical and mental health is, the more we can help our clients.
Staying with the big picture in Thai Massage therapy
It is also important to look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself these questions:
- On balance, does our massage work add to our satisfaction in life, to our joy, to our desire to help our fellow human beings?
- Are there many people whom we helped over the years to feel better, improve their health, and experience some blissful hours because of our work?
- When we come to the closing point of our life cycle in this body, can we say that we truly made a contribution to our fellow human beings, to the well being of our clients, and to the positive energy of our planet?
I am convinced that most of us in the massage therapy profession will be able to answer “yes” to these questions.
Choose the view from the highest point – it looks better
If you look at your massage from this higher vantage point, if you see the bigger picture, you can handle those times when the energy hits a low point.
The low points will happen because this is the nature of life. All we have to do is remember and pay more attention to the high points of the inevitable energy cycles.
Massage therapy is not just a job, a regulated industry, a clinical process. It is a way to build up the positive and loving energy balance of our world. I am proud and happy to be part of it, and so can you.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think and what your experience is. I would love to hear from you.
If you would like to learn more about the beautifully balanced and harmonious art of Thai Massage, follow the link below to browse Thai Healing Massage Academy’s extensive online training library:
The author, Shama Kern, is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy He has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 20 years, and he is the creator of 20 Thai Massage online training courses.