Empathy at the Spa

MassageWe know of the common reasons while spas are so popular:  Relaxation, proven results, personal well-being.  There is one thing that is missing in this conversation, and it is crucial for both spa-goer and spa professionals.  In this day and age of digital rather than human contact we aren’t adequately acknowledging “empathy.”

The “touch versus technology” debate has been raging on for over a decade now.  Yet, empathy is one of the factors that breeds loving connections.  Studies show, in fact, that lack of empathy leads to depression and sometimes to deviant behavior.

The spa environment is a wonderful breeding ground for empathetic exchange.  The art of empathy requires both self-awareness and the ability to switch from self-attunement from self to “other.”  At the spa this becomes a delicate high-wire act of energy transference in just the right amounts.  Overly empathetic people may lose the ability to know what they want or need.  In a profession that requires so much intimate attention to the client this can quickly lead to burnout for the practitioner.  Feeling cheated of what they really want from a spa experience.  Either way, everyone loses.

In fact, overly empathetic individuals fall prey to losing themselves in trying to please others.  This tendency leads to gaslighting, in which another person negates your reality to assert his or her own.  A more healthful approach is compassion, which is a caring concern for another’s needs or suffering from a healthy distance, while assisting in a sincere manner.  Setting boundaries is also a wonderful way of maintaining a healthful distance from other practitioners and clients.

Training practitioners to manage their work as well as communicate thoroughly with clients about their lifestyle and expectations from a service makes the empathy equation much easier.  This way the client and practitioner are able to generate results from the service without sacrificing their own needs.

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