I think it is really important that anybody who is going to have a session in a therapy clinic knows that their needs will be catered for. Sometimes a phone call to the practitioner or venue can iron out any concerns or misconceptions, after all it is good to talk and clear communication can be the key.

I think this also applies to students who wish to train in complementary therapy or extend or advance their knowledge doing CPD courses. I’ve had many occasions when people have kindly contacted me via email or over the phone to check the suitability of our training venue in Loughborough for their specific individual needs. As a practitioner and a trainer / teacher I am immensely grateful for these opportunities to discuss what somebody needs ahead of time rather than find out on the day.

In this following guest contribution article form Hilary Leach you will read about her personal journey and how things have impacted on her and what she has done to make her clinic accessible for all.

See below for Hilary’s honest and caring article…

“The best gift you are ever going to give someone— the permission to feel safe in their own skin. To feel worthy. To feel like they are enough.”  Hannah Brencher

Many years ago I was asked to describe my USP (Unique Selling Point), I answered, half seriously that it was that I was so much bigger than anyone else, that no-one would be embarrassed taking their clothes off in front of me.  I have since come to realise that this is my mission, to provide comfortable, safe therapies for people of all sizes.

Even the strongest or most self-assured amongst us can be afraid of new experiences such as massage or reflexology, (especially if they involve undressing). It can be a daunting prospect if you are on the larger size, if you are very slim or if you have swollen limbs from lymphoedema and lipoedema.  Many people feel like that, even if they conform perfectly to what society considers to be beautiful/desirable.

As therapists I think we have to do all we can to let clients know that whoever they are, whatever they think about their bodies and whatever the media/society try to tell them about their bodies, that we do not judge them.  It really shouldn’t matter if they are fatter than they’d like, slimmer than they’d like, older, swollen, baggier, more wrinkled or if they have mobility problems.  All bodies are sacred and to be respected.

There are many ways that we can do this, and one of the most important ways is to clearly describe the facilities you have available on your website, literature or Facebook page. This means many questions can be answered before the client even makes contact .

Personally I have many worries about seeking out treatment as I am a larger lady with lipoedema and lymphoedema.  Will I break the couch? Is the treatment room upstairs and if so, will I cope with the stairs, will they have a handrail?  Is there an accessible toilet and will it be so small that I will have to reverse into it?  Can I park nearby as I can’t walk as far as I’d like?  Will the chair that I have to sit in have arms that won’t fit my swollen thighs? How will I be comfortable lying on the couch as I have such a big belly/chest?  When I lie on my back for more than 5 minutes, it really starts to hurt unless my legs are raised.  What if they couch is so high I can’t get on?  How on earth will I be able to relax and be comfortable? What if the therapist is disgusted by me? These are things that an able bodied, slimmer therapist may not even think about so will not address them.

If you can answer these sort of questions on your website a potential client will be saved the embarrassment of having to ask those questions or even worse, turning up and not being able to have a treatment.  I’m not suggesting that you all go out a buy heavy duty couches or chairs, but perhaps clearly publish the weight limit of your couch. Put up photos of your room, the chairs, the couch and the loo. A portaped next to a chair may be an alternative if someone is too heavy for your couch – but make sure they know that this is available.  If you are mobile, although slightly more awkward, you may also be able to reassure people.  However, if you decide to treat them in their own reclining chair for example, make sure you are comfortable, there’s no point in injuring yourself.

This is what I have on my website, and I wrote this for me as a potential client. I realise I am very blessed to have this space and this equipment and not everyone can have this, but if you are clear with what you do have, clients, like myself with feel more at ease in booking in.

“At my home I hope I have the perfect treatment room for you.  There is ample on-street parking outside so you should be able to park very close by.  There is a ramp up to the door so no need to worry about steps. I have a couple of sturdy chairs for us to sit on (without arms) and the couch takes up to 32 stones (203 kgs).  There is a lovely toilet just off the room (with a couple of grab rails to help)

The couch is height adjustable and the head can be raised and also the legs, supporting the knees and taking pressure off the lower back.  I have a series of cushions (called The Comfy Client) that help make you comfortable especially when you are lying on your tummy. It is my great desire to provide a safe space for all, where you will be valued, respected and cared for, with ease and comfort.”

One more thought, if you are a trainer, delivering courses to therapists, can also you make sure the facilities are suitable.  Recently I was booked on a course over two weekends and the trainer, having met me in real life knew all about my size and mobility problems and I disclosed them on the booking form.  I said I would bring my portaped so I wouldn’t need a couch but at 5pm the night before I was due to travel I was told that the venue was not suitable for me and I wouldn’t be able to attend the course.  The venue had a website that didn’t say anything about potential problems (I had checked before I booked) although the terms of rental apparently did say that the rooms was not suitable for those with mobility problems and the infirm.  Obviously I did not see those terms as I booked direct with the trainer.  This was incredibly distressing for all concerned and needn’t have happened.

We all deserve kindness and respect and to receive love and acceptance, wherever we are in our journey, is the first step in our healing.  Thank you, Hilary

© www.hilaryleach.co.uk October 2018 with permission for Sue Ricks to publish in her newsletter.