by Pallas Hutchison
With Valentine's Day coming up this weekend, sharing a post about couples and love seemed appropriate. I designed this service a few years ago after talking to several local couples' counselors. While not the most popular of our services, this is probably the most fun and the most interactive. I have enjoyed working with each of my couples. Through this service, each couple has taught me how to teach and that I love teaching.
Please note that I am not a counselor, a psychotherapist or a psychiatrist. I am not qualified to say what this service does from a psychological standpoint. I do not want to misrepresent myself in any way. I know massage. and, by sharing what I know, I have seen a difference in how couples interact before and after this session.
What is the purpose of an instructional massage?
The goal of this service is to teach the couple a new way to touch each other and develop communication, which ultimately deepens intimacy. People know if their partner has sore shoulders, a stiff back or tired feet; they don't always know how to help effectively. For example, fingertips angled wrong result in sharp nails stabbing into sore muscles. Learning massage techniques and body mechanics help with this problem. Bigger &/or stronger people are often afraid that their strength will hurt their loved one, especially if they appear fragile. This is where communication skills comes in.
What happens during an instructional massage?
A couple comes in and I teach them how to give each other a massage using basic Swedish techniques. Each person receives a four-handed 30-minute massage from their partner and myself. The lesson includes basic safety as relates specifically to their partner (based off of their intake form), a demonstration of what parts of the hand and arm to use for beginner strokes and a general explanation of body mechanics so they won't hurt themselves trying to use these skills.
The session is deliberately focused on the top problem area, the one spot they each would like worked on the most. As I teach, I check in with the client to find out how they are doing. I encourage the partner to ask the questions also. Do they like that technique? Is the pressure too much or too little? Is that the area you want focused on? Depending on how much massage experience the couple has, the session starts out awkwardly. Initial feedback is vague or generic. Touch is tentative. Diffusing the awkwardness with humor allows me to put the couple at ease and tease out more specific, constructive feedback.
By the end of the session, the couple has basic massage skills they can use at home. They also talk to each other differently. Their body language shifts; casual touches that may not have been there before. Without meaning to or even realizing, they show me their love for each other. It is amazing and humbling to see.