As a therapist, I sometimes forget the fears others have about receiving bodywork. Massage therapy, as well as other therapies, have recently come into the spotlight and more people are seeking bodywork in spas, health clubs, therapy centers and doctor's offices. Intellectually, people may understand what therapy does for them, but therapy goes well beyond the intellect. In fact, due to fear, knowing what therapy can do for the body, mind, emotions and spirit may keep individuals from exploring therapy. I hope my words assist those hesitant few through their fears and into the wonderful world of BODYWORK.
The term bodywork is used to define a variety of therapies. Generally, bodywork is administered by a professional who is trained in specific therapies aimed at balancing the individual's health. This work is holistic in nature meaning "whole" (body, mind, emotion, spirit). All of the above are considered in a bodywork treatment– not only the symptoms displayed.
My first experience with bodywork came on the second day of class at massage therapy school in 1985. I was one of five people who had never received a "professional treatment." As we prepared for our first session on the table, I recall people feeling slightly uncomfortable when they were asked to disrobe. Knowing I was dealing with professionals, and given privacy to undress, this request came without discomfort or pause on my part. In fact, it felt similar to a doctor's request for an exam except the atmosphere was much more pleasant.
Once I laid on the table, my first observation appeared from deep inside of me. I felt tension in my body, which had gone unnoticed until I was touched. In time, I understood that my reaction was quite common because the body has the ability to "tune" things out until a calm and quiet space is established to express itself. That space can be achieved in many ways: sitting quietly, meditation, breathing, walking in nature, etc. The bodies constant internal dialog is there for us to learn about ourselves, yet most of the time we are too busy to listen. Therapy provides an opportunity for our bodies to let us know if something is wrong or out of balance. Given some time, if we choose not to listen, the body may seem to rid us of our pain. In truth, the body stores or hides this discomfort, but it does not take it away permanently. Bodywork, therefore, awakens the body and allows us to hear what it has been trying to tell us, making us aware of our stress and tension. Once this discomfort surfaces and we explore it, then it can truly leave our bodies and our minds.
That may seems like a lot to swallow, but once you begin to experience your body relaxing and being in a peaceful zone, nature seems to take its course. The problem for most of us is giving up "CONTROL" and allowing ourselves the time we need to heal. Once we learn to allow healing into our lives, it awakens our spirit and transforms our lives. Although most people seek bodywork for various reasons, in time they find its benefits are far reaching.
Now, let's get back to our expectations of bodywork therapy. Before a session begins, the client is asked questions concerning their medical history. This allows the therapist to understand preexisting medical conditions, medication being taken, and areas of discomfort. With this information, the therapist is given some insight into the client's body and their knowledge of their body. The therapist may also ask to observe the posture of the client by asking them to stand or walk around the room. The posture tells many stories and demonstrates "how," as well as "where" we hold our stress or old injuries. All of this provides clues to the client's overall health and well-being. Many times, we are unaware of our ability to hold things that the body is clearly presenting to us. Once the therapist obtains all the necessary information, they will briefly explain the treatment and answer any questions before the session proceeds.
Depending on the type of bodywork being administered, the client may need to undress before getting on the table. If asked to disrobe, a towel or sheet is provided to drape the body. At no time is the client inappropriately exposed; body parts are uncovered only when they are rubbed or kneaded with oil or lotion. Therapy is designed to aid in the relaxation process and to allow people to become comfortable with their bodies so they can heal. A good guideline is to undress to your comfort level.
It is not uncommon for a therapy room to have dim lighting with soft music playing. There may be candles, incense, or essential oils filling the air with scents. If you are allergic to any incense or essence, inform the therapist prior to the treatment so they can avoid its use. All of this is done to create a pleasant environment for the client to feel welcome, to relax, and to unwind. Always remember, this is for you, not for you to please your therapist, so make changes– within reason– to the environment to support your experience.
Now for the hardest part of all– relaxation. Your job is to relax and give the therapist feedback, making them aware of any pain or discomfort. Tell your therapist if they are providing too much or too little pressure. If you are experiencing unusual sensations, share them so the therapist has the opportunity to explain what is happening. The therapist will ask for your participation when needed.
What happens on the table has a lot to do with the clients ability to "let go" and trust the therapist as well as the healing process. This does not mean allowing the therapist to do anything that causes pain. If something is bothersome, bring it to the attention of the therapist so they can adjust the treatment and ease the discomfort. Everyone is different, therefore, every session is designed for the individual.
The session generally ends in a very calming, soothing way, perhaps with light strokes or simply holding the feet. The client is given some time to rest before slowly getting up from the table. Many people feel lightheaded when they first sit up. This feeling is common due to an increase in blood flow. Also, energy is moving throughout the body where it may have been stagnant prior to the treatment. Drinking water and walking around awhile assists the person in their return to earth. Time to adjust to their new body is beneficial.
I chose not to go into too much detail within the session because it varies depending on the type of work and what the client is dealing with at the time. Treatments vary for individuals who do therapy regularly as well, because their system is changing with each session. That's what makes the work so interesting. If you think about it, we are constantly changing so why shouldn't our therapy session.
Receiving bodywork may still be foreign to many people, but I hope my words have taken some of the fear out of the process. Please know healing isn't always easy, yet it is simply a coming together within. At times, it may feel uncomfortable as we reclaim our bodies, our minds and our spirits. Remember, pain is a wonderful mechanism for our body to let us know something is wrong or out of balance. Bodywork establishes balance as it eases our pain so we can function to the best of our abilities. Now that you have been introduced to bodywork, at least on paper, there is nothing to fear except feeling relaxed, balanced, and enlightened. Bodywork is a wonderful tool to help all of us unlock the doorway to health and happiness.
For more details about holistic therapy and Nancy’s experience with healing refer to her book "Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life." 
Reproduction of articles are permitted by Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP, RPE, author and holistic bodyworker, with acknowledgments and credentials included. www.naturalmassagetherapy.com
For further information or questions, please contact Nancy @ Natural Massage Therapy at 928-717-1251, nmt1@naturalmassagetherapy.com.
All articles are for informational/educational purposes only. This information does not take the place of current treatment plans nor medications prescribed. Always consult your physician to determine the most beneficial course of treatment for your individual needs.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy M. Turcich became a Natural Therapeutic Specialist through the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics in 1986. As a qualified alternative health therapist, Nancy taps into her understanding of healing as a client and as a therapist. She has actively participated in hundreds of training hours pertaining to mind-body therapy. Nancy is a Board Certified Polarity Practitioner (BCPP) as well as a Registered Polarity Educator (RPE).

After providing therapy to the public for more than twenty-six years, her clientele’s need for pertinent information and insight into therapy–wanting to know how it works and what they could do to enrich their lives drew Nancy to write about natural therapy. In late 2009, she released her memoir/self-help guide, Finding My Way From Paralysis To A Rich, Full Life.

In 2005, Nancy’s heart-felt book One Of Eight–my perspective on our brother’s suicide was published. Both titles are available on eReaders.

Nancy resides in Prescott, Arizona where she administers and provides educational insights to her clientele in Natural Massage Therapy methods. She loves to travel and visit Chicago where she originated. Nancy maintains professional affiliations with the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) and the American Polarity Therapy Association (APTA). Her greatest passion is helping others.

Please visit www.naturalmassagetherapy.com for more.

Nancy M. Turcich, NTS, BCPP, RPE
Bez Publications
bez@naturalmassagetherapy.com
(928) 717-1251