Counselling and psychotherapy

What Is Massage? Is It Just A Rub?

Massage is a dialogue, a communication through the medium of touch. It is more than just a rub.

Touch is a form of communication and the essence and potential of massage is diminished when it is perceived as no more than a mechanical process.

Another popular misconception is that massage is something that the therapist does to the client. When massaging, my hands are both giving and receiving touch.

Where does the concept that massage is just a rub, or something that the therapist does to the client, come from?

This is a common attitude in our culture. It is the same attitude that says that teaching is a one-way communication, where the teacher imparts knowledge to the students, rather than understanding that the teacher’s ability to listen is an important aspect of the teaching process.

One of the most common reasons why people seek help of various kinds is because they have not been listened to.

They have been talked to or preached at rather than encouraged to follow their excitement and make their own discoveries.

In this respect, the interaction that takes place during massage is not so different to that of teaching and counselling – clients come to have their needs met and the therapist’s ability to listen is an important part of the process.

When we listen to our clients rather than trying to fix them, when we use the medium of massage to encourage and support our clients in healing themselves, a whole new and exciting world opens up. We begin to understand how we communicate through the medium of touch, and how fulfilling and effective it can be to work in this way.

When I trained in biodynamic massage at the Gerda Boyesen Institute in London, the first thing I learned was to use my hands – as well as my eyes and ears – to listen. When I had learned to listen to my clients, I proceeded to learn and develop appropriate ways of responding to my clients’ needs.

The essence of the massage process developed by Gerda Boyesen, which she calls Biodynamic massage,  is not a fixed or predetermined sequence of moves, but the ability to respond moment by moment to the needs of the client.