"Your personal safety must be foremost when
providing therapeutic massage."
Outcalls and On-sites Part 3:
Reality & Risks.
Providing outcall and on-site service to prospective massage consumers are potentially the most hazardous activity and setting for any massage therapists to undertake. If you are a massage therapist who are long-accepting, is accepting and will accept outcalls, your best bet to assure your own safety and peace of mind is knowing and prior preparation. Here are some very informative article regarding just that. It is quite long and they are from two articles of separate authors, so I have divided them into topics and into three parts.
Outcalls and On-sites Part 1: Knowing & Screening
Outcalls and On-sites Part 2: Tips & Planning
Outcalls and On-sites Part 3: Reality & Risks
This is the last of a 3-part post:
While an overwhelming majority of outcalls are legitimate and safe, you must always act to protect yourself. Just because a client was appropriate the first time does not ensure proper behavior during future sessions. If at any time during the session you feel uncomfortable or threatened, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Leave your table and supplies and just get out. Drive to a safe place and call the authorities. Write down what occurred, what was said, events as they happened, actions taken by the client and by you, etc. Let the authorities (police, sheriff, hotel security, etc.) retrieve your items. Your brochure will provide the authorities with proof you had clearly communicated standards of behavior to the client. Provide yourself with some type of self-care to release from this negative experience. Talk to colleagues, friends, family, counselors and work on releasing. It is not your fault someone behaved inappropriately.
A majority of massage therapists are women and the world is much different for women than for men. This does not mean men are free of risk in any situation. It means all of us have innate survival skills we sometimes suppress to fit societal roles and business situations. It is difficult to turn down a potential client when bills are due. Evaluation of risk is how we protect ourselves, "...so one way to reduce risk is to learn what risk looks like."
Gavin DeBecker, author of The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us From Violence, lays out these manipulative techniques used by disreputable people:
1. Forced Teaming: This is verbally implying trust prematurely; guiding the conversation into one of "We're in this boat together;" inventing a shared purpose where none really exists. Recognize that you do not have to "team" with anyone you do not choose.
2. Charm and Niceness: Charm is a learned ability, not a personality trait; niceness is a conscious decision. Charm can be quite smooth and deceptive; remember that a smooth talker is not necessarily a trustworthy person.
3. Too many details: Often when someone is lying, they will include too many details. The details seem to make the story more credible. These details can confuse the listener's mind into forgetting that this is still a stranger with an unproven track record. Remember to remain focused on the main message of the speaker.
4. Typecasting: Using a mild insult to make you want to prove them wrong - "Oh, you're one of those people who never accepts help?" Resist the label, don't let someone manipulate your actions; you don't have to prove anything to a stranger.
5. Loan Sharking: Assisting a person (who did not ask for assistance) to create a "social debt." This is usually accompanied by Typecasting and Forced Teaming. Do not fall into feeling you are in a stranger's debt. Remember, "he approached me, I did not ask for help."
6. Unsolicited Promises: A promise is used to convince you of their intentions, but it is not a guarantee; be suspicious of an unsolicited promise. Remember, "why does this person need to convince me?"
7. Not Hearing the word "NO": When someone ignores you saying "no," he or she is either seeking control of the situation or refusing to relinquish control. Do not negotiate with the person. "No" means "No." Remember, "No" is a complete sentence.
While many readers may recognize that the above signals can also be interpreted as bad pick-up lines or an inept attempt at conversation, it is best to listen with both your mind and your intuition. When it comes to danger, your intuition is always right in at least two important ways: 1) It is always in response to something, and 2) It always has your best interest at heart.
Outcalls and On-sites Part 1: Knowing & Screening
Outcalls and On-sites Part 2: Tips and Planning
This article was originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine last June/July 2000: Outcall Service and Safety:Preparation is the Key to success, authored and Edited by Sandra Gill: The Right Touch, CO, ABMP Copyright 2003; Another version with a link to the original can also be found at The Bodyworker: Working Safely as a Massage Therapist - written and reducted by Julie Onoforio. This post is three-part homage to both.
- Leo Feraer-Oporto