In this Post: Asking a massage client to undress is a regular part of your job as a massage therapist. This simple request, can be challenging for those dealing with certain emotional and physical realities. It is important as therapists to be sensitive to this reality!
Asking a massage client to undress may seem like no big thing to you or me, but your clients may feel differently! Many people have hang-ups about getting naked, and if we fail to be sensitive to this reality we stand a good chance of alienating them before their massage even begins!
Take Off Your Clothes
Um, excuse me? Take off my clothes. I don’t think so. I don’t know you.
Even though clients may be aware that removing their clothes is part of the massage experience, if they are new to the practice of massage it still may be really intimidating!
How much should they take off? How little? Where should they lay? What should they do?
You can almost feel the anxiety rising!
Because of the reality of reticence when it comes to massage, it is important to have a clear “What to Expect” section on your website. This can help alleviate apprehension a client might be feeling before they even arrive for their appointment.
Check out: Eliminating Anxiety For Your Massage Clients With A “What to Expect” Section, for more on how to make it really clear to the client what they will experience the first time they come to you for massage.
There are a variety of reasons someone might be uncomfortable getting naked.
A history’s of sexual abuse or assault.
With 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men being raped at some point in their life, there is a good chance that we as therapists are working on people who have a turbulent touch history. We need to be aware of this prevalence!
People who have experienced this type of abuse might present as extremely jumpy or nervous. They may have a hard time standing up for themselves.
Because of this, it is imperative if we see these warning signals that we tread lightly! The last thing we want to do is alienate an already delicate client — one who is coming to us to experience safe touch.
Poor body image issues.
Most of us have parts of our body we wish we could change, while others of us are obsessed with the idea of “improving” our physique. Massage can be a great antidote for the mental and emotional effects of having poor body image issues.
Our job as massage therapists is to create a space where our clients feel we aren’t judging their flaws. That really they aren’t flaws, that we all are beautifully and uniquely made, and that they are deserving of healthy human touch.
Uncomfortable with the opposite gender.
Even though they booked an appointment with a massage therapist of the opposite gender, they still may feel modest when it comes time to actually take off their clothes.
Our jobs as therapists is to make our clients feel comfortable and accepted. We have a responsibility to tap into our intuitive sense to see when our client’s unspoken needs are not being met. WE ARE NEVER TO TELL SOMEONE THEY MUST TAKE OFF MORE CLOTHING THAN THEY FEEL COMFORTABLE!
Really when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter why they are uncomfortable with getting naked. We don’t need to know the reason, though sometimes it can be helpful and does explain a lot. But when we don’t know the reason, that’s okay too. Our job is to hold space for whatever experience our clients are having and to nurture them through that process.
So often we get calloused to the reality that undressing is a big deal for many. We spend the majority of our day looking at naked bodies, and we forget that we need to be sensitive! Alert to unspoken cues.
We must be vigilant in our observations. We must be delicate in our approach. And we must remember not to get stuck in ruts, that each client has a complexity of emotions and past history that they bring to the table, and it is our job to be sensitive to those experiences.
Asking A Massage Client To Undress
Say things like, “You may undress as much or as little as you would like. We are happy to work around clothing if that is what makes you feel most comfortable.” My hope is we can say such things and mean them.
We should never tell someone they HAVE to take something off. I know, I know, it is way easier to do focused rhomboid work when someone isn’t wearing a bra. But if they chose to leave their bra on, for whatever reason, respect their decision!
It is our job to develop tools that allow us to give fabulous treatments regardless of whether or not our clients are fully clothed. Healthy touch is an important aspect of life, especially to the many who have experienced a lack of such touch! Let’s try to bring healthy touch to as many starving bodies as possible.
Please stay vigilant! Listen to the unspoken needs. Tap into your intuition to make sure you are present with what is truly going on with your clients! And remember if a client wants to leave ALL of their clothes on, that that is OKAY!