One of the things I particularly enjoy about having my own independent practice is that I'm able to take time with my clients. Most of the time I have to stay within the bounds of a schedule or my day would be unmanageable. However, I'm able to control my schedule so that I don't have to feel rushed. If something comes up near the end of a session, I can take a few extra minutes if that seems necessary.
Not long ago a new client came with a difficult pain problem. She had a complicated history. I wanted to be able to listen to it carefully, to be able to ask pertinent questions, and not be rushed. I had a break after the appointment so I asked the client if she was in a hurry. Even if I had the time, perhaps she didn't. However, she had no appointments to keep and so we were both able to relax and discuss her history in detail.
During the past couple of years I've learned a lot about how pain works and have become convinced that pain education can make a valuable contribution to managing chronic pain. I thought this particular client might find this information helpful, so we discusses how pain works and how she might make use of that.
Finally, I put her on the table, put my hands on her, and began to proceed in a manner that I hoped would be helpful. Her situation was unusual and so the session was very much a process of discovery. As I am palpating and feeling with my hands, it is as if my hands are introducing themselves to the body and then asking it questions, asking it what it would like, what it needs, and discerning how to give it. During the session, I felt some unusual sensations that I was not sure how to interpret. A few days later, I consulted with some physical therapists to get their insight into this particular case. They had information, suggestions, and observations that will be useful when I see this client again.
Had I been working for someone else, as I have sometimes in the past, I would not have been able to take this much time with this client. I would have had to rush her through the history. I would have had to cut short the pain education or try to give it to her during the treatment time on the table. I would have had to end after precisely an hour and get her out the door promptly. I would have managed, but important parts of that session would have been left out.
My schedule does not always allow this luxury. However, when a new client comes with a complicated history of chronic pain, I'm glad I can focus my attention on them rather than the clock. This is one of the joys of being an independent massage therapist.