Touch is vital!
It’s instinctive – we bang our elbow, and immediately our hand goes to the area to rub or protect it; we want to console someone, and we may place a hand on their shoulder, or offer a hug – safe touch is a basic human need, one that can help us to thrive emotionally, socially and physically .
The importance of touch was brought home to me when, some years ago I had set up my onsite massage chair at a local sports centres ladies night. I was approached by an elderly woman who asked what I was doing, and when I explained, asked if she could have a massage. When she’d had a short back massage, she said ‘that was lovely – do you know, I realised during that, you’re the first person other than my doctor who’s touched me in about 5 years!’. She explained that her grown up children lived in Australia, she lived alone, and although she had friends – they weren’t huggy people.
This was echoed a few years later when my mum was undergoing treatment for cancer, and said how much she valued her massage session. She said the massages were ‘normal’ touch, not the medical interventions or the sympathy hugs, but something that was just for her – that let her forget about cancer while she just enjoyed the sensation of safe, nurturing, relaxing touch.
As massage therapists, we are uniquely placed and privileged to be able to offer that touch to those who require it. As a massage teacher I’m struck by the amount of learners who talk about ‘being in the zone’ during treatments – the zone being that lovely space where your focus is totally on your client and their well being. This focus can be as beneficial for the giver as it is for the receiver. Massage is mindfulness in action!
At our therapy centre, we’re aware that not everyone can afford a regular massage treatment and with this in mind, we offer greatly discounted rates to those with ongoing health conditions (mental as well as physical). People who are living with cancer and those who care for them are welcome to as many free treatments as we can offer.
We’re committed to making massage and its benefits as accessible and sustainable as possible! To this end we offer workshops in basic massage for safe home use, so that family members or carers can give short, safe treatments to maintain the positive effects of massage and touch. We also offer discounted rates on our own accredited and regulated courses for therapists who do voluntary work in their communities.
We’re firm believers that the benefits of massage should be rolled out to as many people as possible to make this safe, nurturing touch available to all.
about the author
Karin left her post as course leader for holistic therapies at a further education college to set up Energise – a therapies and training centre in Cambuslang, Glasgow. They offer VTCT and SQA-regulated courses as well as shorter CPD courses for existing therapists. She is also Scottish tutor for Face The World and volunteers for Therapies4Forces.
She is committed to making both therapies and training as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, and has a particular interest in ensuring therapies for unpaid carers and people living with serious health issues are affordable and easy to access.
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