The wounded healer massage therapist is a massage therapist who comes into the massage profession with conscious or unconscious emotional, mental, spiritual and physical wounding in order to heal themselves.
The legend of Chiron whose name means “working with the hands” was wounded accidentally by Herakles arrow which made him permanently injured. Being immortal, he could not recover from the wound but he was able to move beyond his suffering to heal others. He was able to transform his wound into something good.
The theory is that the wounded healer massage therapists is able to develop and move beyond their wounding which in turn will lead them to be a more empathetic therapist. Part of healing is being able to bring the wounding into consciousness. The reasons why many become massage therapists are often the same keys to understanding the wounding and the healing process. To become more aware of your own personal wounding requires that you be able to better understand yourself and your beliefs that have gotten you to where you are at in your life. Being able to transcend one’s wounded self will help set the stage for being a witness to others healing on your massage table.
The thing is that most of our wounding is really unconscious. Looking at wounding can be a painful process in itself. We hide the wounds in the form of defensiveness and things like needing to be right or always giving advice to others instead of really listening.
Within the massage profession are two unique aspects to working with clients that always create some confusion. We know that actually just working on the physical body can relieve the pain and tightness and the symptoms that people come in with. Healing symptoms is a reductionist way of looking at the body. We think that our techniques are what are bringing the relief of pain and discomfort. We are trained in massage school about anatomy and physiology in an effort to be able to find the cause of something. The techniques we learn and use on people can also have another effect on people. It can deter them from assuming responsibility for the results of their treatment as well as taking care of themselves and their health. They work long hours and get stressed out from daily living knowing that they are coming into their massage therapist for help.
In some ways this sets up a co-dependent relationship with clients. In contrast, massage work that emphasizes healing and wholeness. Wholeism looks at the whole picture and in some ways taking away the pain may also be taking away the message. Sometimes suffering and pain can help people to become more conscious of themselves. Pain can lead to the realization that their feelings do not connect to the values that they want to guide their lives. It requires a belief in the process of healing rather in the actual techniques used. After all what does the client really know about any one massage technique? Do they know or care if you are mobilizing their fascia or doing a triggerpoint or doing pettrissage? All they know is what it feels like. It is the feeling that leads to healing and wholeness.
You can overcome or deal with the wounded healer aspects of the massage profession by taking a deeper look at your reasons for becoming a massage therapist and wanting to help others. Even though helping others is a good thing for the most part, it is also the key to unlocking the hold of being a wounded healer. It involves learning to and practicing presence when you have a client on the table. That means that your focus is totally on them. You are not giving advice. You are not doing anything really – except touching them. Touch can bring people back into themselves so that they can actually figure out their own issues. You are not doing psychotherapy with them and talking to them. Just being present requires that you know your own agendas and be able to set them aside. It is actually very difficult for massage therapists to do. They first think that there won’t be anything to do. Instead of trying to fix the pain, letting a person stay with their pain can result in the healing of pain. Be sure to get the required training and support to learn to be present.
Massage therapists are not healers
The use of the word healer in the wounded healer theory is just there because that is the theory of the wounded healer. We are all wounded to some extent.
Many massage therapists come into the profession thinking that they will be healers or thinking that they have a calling in healing. Massage therapists do not heal. Some massage therapists will say that they are just facilitating the healing. Think about that claim. What does it even mean?
The thing we know for sure is that the The client heals and is the only one that is involved in healing. You may be a witness to healing which is a great give and a part of the art of massage.
verb (used with object)
to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.to bring to an end or conclusion, as conflicts between people or groups, usually with the strong implication of restoring former amity; settle; reconcile: They tried to heal the rift between them but were unsuccessful.to free from evil; cleanse; purify: to heal the soul.
verb (used without object)
to effect a cure.(of a wound, broken bone, etc.) to become whole or sound; mend; get well (often followed by up or over).
“Heal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heal. Accessed 23 Nov. 2020.