Talking Body Listening Hands Glossary

There may be terms or concepts that are unfamiliar to you. Here are some basic definitions of therapeutic relationship terms to help you.

Therapeutic relationship – the relationship or alliance that forms between a therapist and a client that supports the client process and desired goals. Commonly described in psychotherapeutic literature, the massage therapeutic relationship may be less well understood or defined because the therapeutic relationship occurs in an environment of touch and non-verbal communication.

Counter-transference – a therapist's unresolved feelings from past relationships or personal issues that are "transferred" to a client. When therapists act on their feelings of counter-transference, their objectivity is lost and the client and the integrity of the therapeutic relationship may be harmed.

Dual relationship – when a therapist and client know each other outside the therapeutic relationship. It is possible to know a client from another community activity and not have it interfere in the therapeutic relationship but if there is significant emotional investment in the relationship, then it will be difficult for either client or therapist to contain their feelings within the therapeutic alliance.

Transference – a client's unresolved feelings from past relationships or issues that are transferred onto the therapist. The client may feel love, attraction, ambivalence or anger towards the therapist out of proportion to the therapeutic encounter. When this happens, therapists need to pay careful attention to their body language, communication and therapeutic response so as not to enhance or promote the client's transference.

Informed consent – this is an approach to care that ensures clients understand the therapeutic approach and it seeks the client's expressed consent prior to beginning the treatment. When therapists achieve informed consent, they have fully disclosed the purpose and benefits of a treatment approach to their client. They have discussed any potential problems that might arise, what parts of the body will be massaged, how the client will be draped. The therapist asks the client if she has any questions and then explicitly asks for permission to proceed.

Somatic Response – literally means "bodily response". Paying attention to client somatic responses and the therapist's own somatic responses will help therapists understand the communication climate in the treatment room.