Humans are a product of evolution, thousands of years worth, and most of our behavior is still a mystery even to ourselves. The fear and loathing of spiders, recoiling at certain scents, protecting our tribe and the little white lie. All that we are today is a direct result from the accumulative happenings of the day-to-day life of our ancestors. Instinct and patterning is deeply imbedded into the fabric of who we are. And, that’s why people are funny. We do things, create situations, and cause life to occur from our unconscious behaviors, and then ask “why did that happen?”!
Its only been in the last 20 years that brain and behavior researchers have discovered how our thoughts create our realities, and how many thoughts we have are in reality nudges from your subconscious self to get you to move in certain directions. Most of our thoughts are actually lies we tell ourselves, and the brain has an innate intelligence that we are just beginning to understand- it will play tricks on us, keeping pertinent information hidden, and acts as a protection device whenever we, at the unconscious level, feel fear (real or imagined).
Knowing this, that 60% of us are lying at any given moment, that on average, 20 lies are told each and every day by each and every one of us, why should we expect our clients to tell us the entire truth during an intake interview? Ours is a transient relationship, we are not high on their priority list of trusted and close people. Especially if you work in a spa-like environment, where you could see 80+ clients monthly, and going over the client info form takes under 30 seconds. When you are lucky to have repeat clientele, more of the truth of who they are unfolds with each visit. However, very few of us are willing to divulge our true selves to strangers who will be touching our naked bodies, which is an act of trust in itself. Humans behave in context of the situation we are present in, what the perception is which was formed from our past, what we wish to gain from the situation, and the level of trust in which truth can be present.
Of course, on the opposing end of the spectrum, being trapped on an airplane seems to bring out the truth serum for some, trapped as we are, with no hope of escape for hours, the unwilling bearer of an unoccupied ear…
Clients, in the excitement of pre-massage, don’t honestly remember certain points in their physical history. Minds go blank, on their mind is “time is money, and why waste time with talk?”. It could’ve happen so long ago, that they feel the issue isn’t pertinent to what we do. They may be embarrassed by the issue, such as some women who get breast enlargements to please their partners, or who feel we are judging them for such things. Then, as we are merrily massaging away, we discover a pace maker, fresh scarring from recent surgery, bulging varicosities, feet warts. And, the reply from the client as to why they didn’t mention these very important issues: they didn’t think it mattered. The issue in their mind wasn’t important enough to mention. They truly do not understand the importance of full physical disclosure.
So, how do we get our clients to understand the seriousness of a true health history? By making it easy for them.
Gently asking leading questions, smiling (not creepy grinning, just happy to meet you), eye contact, and non-judgement will help the client trust us as professionals. Telling them that you wish to go over their care guide briefly before beginning will give them a time table they can relate to and not a fear that you’re going into a full spectrum explantation that will take, in their minds, forever.
For example: Mrs. Client, I’d like to briefly go over your intake information, as this will help me during the massage. Do you have any allergies? Recent surgeries? Health conditions that I need to be aware of? Do you have any places to avoid? If you remember anything during the massage, please feel free to let me know.
Getting and keeping their full attention is crucial. Asking a client to sit on the table for just a moment before you begin, sets the tone that this is a serious conversation- as some clients will already be disrobing and more than ready to jump on the table! You set the scene in your massage space, you are the authority, the professional, and the one who ultimately is responsible for the clients health and well being during the massage. Make the interview count, prepare an environment where truth can be told, don’t be afraid to ask those questions, and then let it go. Don’t take it personally is the client lies, again, most of us do, and it’s never about you.