The Massage Therapy Career Focus Workbook

Care Mode — Understanding Your Options:

Both the active and passive care modes are valuable ways to practice massage. One is not better than the other. However, the choice you make will change the nature of your practice dramatically.

If you like the sound of the active care mode, that is, equipping your clients for wellness independence, you will need to develop a vast network of professional colleagues to whom you can refer clients. You need to do that because if you keep making clients independent without a referral network you will be out of business in short order. When a student brought up this very point in one of our seminars we responded by simply daring her to try making her clients independent of her services. She told us some weeks later that it was tougher than she thought it would be. Amazingly, however, she confided to us that once she shifted to the active care mode, many of her clients voluntarily increased the frequency of their visits. Obviously her client base was more proactive about wellness than she had dared imagine.

However, the network is still necessary. This is because once you do become good at helping your clients to achieve true wellness independence, word of your skill needs to get back to the other health professionals (and third party payers) in your network. They will then be more than happy to replenish the void in your client base by sending you a constant stream of their clients.

If you like the sound of the passive care mode you probably have a big heart. Clients who require the passive care mode will rely upon you to keep them functioning normally, or as normally as possible. If you do become a passive care mode therapist, you will not need as large a professional network but you may need to do some consumer advertising in order to keep your client base from becoming stagnant. Be aware however, if you choose the passive care mode it will be anything but passive for you. This is because clients in a passive care mode relationship are just harder to normalize than are clients in an active care relationship. Massage, like life, is just full of these confusing little ironies.

A Lesson From Real Life. . .

Debbie is a massage therapist who enjoys helping her clients move from lifestyles with few activities due to pain or immobility to activity-rich lifestyles. She also likes to provide her clients with the referrals and resources to keep themselves flexible and pain free. She likes seeing her clients from 3 to 10 times within a few weeks and getting the job done, which she perceives as building independence. To Debbie, permanent use of corrective measures is a contradiction in terms. Her clients make occasional return visits but often just to keep in touch, visit, and enjoy some mutual encouragement.

One day she received an offer to join a high-profile health clinic. She thought this would be great since she could refer many of her clients to the other health care professionals at the clinic. She became very frustrated, however, when she learned the emphasis was on regularity of client visits on a more or less permanent basis.

Within about 6 months of beginning at the new location, her client base began to suffer seriously. She had originally been brought into association with the clinic because of her great reputation and because the health professional running the office was desirous of a high profile, successful therapist. However, it was now apparent to Debbie that the clinic owner's desire to create client dependency was in direct opposition to her own beliefs about her proper role within the therapist /client relationship.

Eventually, Debbie realized her credibility with the physicians and insurance company which had referred many clients to her previous practice was in jeopardy. That was because fewer of the clients she referred to the clinic staff were achieving wellness independence.

Ultimately, Debbie and the clinic owner began to work at cross purposes, and she resented being chided for not re-booking every client she treated.

After consultation, Debbie learned she preferred the active care mode, so she made the transition into a confirmed active care clinic and has never looked back!