As an independent practitioner, I have a choice about who I will accept as a client. This requires me to set boundaries about what kind of conditions I will treat, how many sessions I'll do in a day, what time frame I will work within, etc.
In talking with other practitioners in the holistic healing field, I have come to realize that we've all had difficult clients that I affectionately call "Psychic Vampires." You know the kind; the clients who drain the life force out of you within five minutes of a session. They can zap you unexpectedly and leave you feeling de-energized and lethargic.
Here are some characteristics of the Psychic Vampire:
- Expect you to work at times not convenient to you & whine if you don't accommodate them.
- Expect you to charge less for your services
- Expect you to work longer for the same fee
- Whining and complaining; about friends, work, family and life in general. Good at unloading about the unfairness of life while they're getting a massage!
- Take up a lot of space; "fill the room," so even if there's a group, they demand attention.
- Self-involved and don't think of others.
How do you handle these kinds of clients? One is to fire them. No, really. If that's not an option, there are some useful techniques to:
- prepare yourself before a session by getting grounded & energized
- things to do during a session (flower essences, Brain Gym, breath patterns)
- how to re-energize after a session. (Space clearing, meditation, etc.)
These techniques draw from many different healing traditions; Resonance Repatterning, yoga, Brain Gym, sound therapies, meditations, flower essences, etc.
For me, the most important thing is to be grounded. There are many different ways to get grounded; drinking water, visualizing that you are a tree with deep roots, Golden Yarrow flower essence, to name a few. Secondly is to define your boundaries. Psychic Vampires are skilled at bulldozing right through. By defining your boundaries, you are better able to recognize when a client has overstepped them. For example, I don't work on Sunday. It's my day of rest.
I defined this boundary after I'd had the unfortunate experience of spending a beautiful Sunday afternoon traveling to work on a client as a favor to another massage therapist. I had a conversation with the client, told her my fee, and we set up a time for a one-hour massage at her house. During the massage, she requested an extra half-hour and I obliged. Not only did she not pay me for the extra time, she payed me the in-house (not home visit) fee of my massage friend. "Well that's how much I pay her, so that's how much I'm paying you." REALLY?! Remember when I said "Fire them," this was one of those clients. Not worth my time or energy.
As a massage therapist, it's my job to provide care and nurturing. This is what makes it hard for many practitioners in the holistic healing field, because it's what we do. But it's not what we should do at the expense of our own energy, health, and well-being.
Over the years, I've learned many effective techniques for dealing with difficult clients. So, I'm teaching a class at American Institute of Healing Therapies on how to deal with clients who drain us. It's primarily for massage therapists, bodyworkers, and others in the holistic healing field (acupuncture, hypnosis, chiropractic, etc.)
Here are the details:
Saturday, October 24th
10:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
American Institute of Healing Therapies
10960 Three Chopt Road
5 Continuing Ed. Credits for Massage Therapists
- The different kinds of Psychic Vampires
- The top 3 factors that affect your energetic boundaries and what you can do about them.
- Specific exercises and techniques to strengthen you energy field & stay energized.
- Tools to protect yourself and if necessary, recover from an encounter.
What's great about many of these techniques is that they require very little time or space. They are fast and easy. In addition, while this class is helpful for handling difficult clients, these are techniques that are useful in the everyday holistic practice.
To register, email me: hali [at] halichambers [dot] com and put Psychic Vampires in the subject line.
***UPDATE: I've had some comments about the name of the class. I just think it sounds catchier and more enticing than "Maintaining Healthy Boundaries in the Clinical Setting." ;-)
HAPPY Halloween! :-)