It’s painful to watch. But … people play practical jokes on different folks on television all the time.  Massage therapists don’t really get to be the exception because I’m soon to become one. For those who haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

The Ellen Degeneres and David Beckham Massage Therapist Prank

Is it funny? If you’re into that type of humor, absolutely.

Is it bad press for the profession? Maybe, maybe not.  There’s the whole idea that a massage therapist is a diminuitive woman who will do whatever you want her to … with all that this insinuates.  But like I said, everybody ends up the butt of a practical joke eventually.  It’s not as though they haven’t pulled the candid camera act on physicians, dentists, and psychiatrists before.

Whether it makes you giggle or want to throw up (I’ll admit to some of both, although now that the shock of the first viewing has worn off, I’m much more on the laughter end of the scale), there’s a lot to be learned from this video.

What do you do when a client asks you to do something you’re not familiar with?

Let’s specify that the treatment sought is definitely not going to injure or harm the client.  But you don’t believe in its effectiveness.  The client is paying for the treatment.  Do you give them what they want, or what you think they need?  Some of both?  Attempt to educate the client more about the modalities that you DO offer?

What if the client is famous?  What if the client is paying you a LOT of money?  It shouldn’t matter.  And yet, if we’re being hardcore introspective with our motivations … it probably does.

What do you do when your client is acting weird?

I know I would get seriously nervous if a client were acting that way with me.  Just my personal issues showing through here, but I’d be doubly nervous if the client in question were a physically fit male.

What’s a reasonable request from a client?

Can we join energy?  Can I take my shirt off?  Please don’t use your thumbs? Will you hum your favorite song near the muscle?  How about, can you take YOUR shirt off?  Okay, that one’s probably obvious.  But where do we draw our lines?

Obviously, we can’t get too specific with our boundaries.  Having an “I will not hum Happy Birthday near a client’s neck” rule is probably not broad enough to be useful.  But only having an “I will not do things that feel uncomfortable for me,” rule isn’t going to get the job done, either.  In a moment of worry, having a precise policy and course of action memorized is really the only way of getting through the situation satisfactorily.

What did you guys think about the video?  What would you have done in the massage therapist’s place?  Has the video helped you think about your professional boundaries? Join the conversation.

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