As massage therapists, of course we want all of our clients to feel welcomed, valued and comfortable—but, did you know that some members of the LGBTQ community are hesitant to seek medical care, due to past experiences or worry that they will not be comfortable?
There are many simple things we can do make sure everyone knows that we accept and want to work with everyone, 10 of which I have outlined below. (Learn more about creating safe space by reading the related feature article, “Is Your Practice LGBTQ-Friendly? How to Create a Welcoming Space,” by Gael Wood, in the November print issue of MASSAGE Magazine.)
Welcome LGBTQ Clients
- Look over your intake form, as you may have outdated or unnecessary questions about gender, marital status or the relationship to an emergency contact. A quick fix is to have a blank to fill out rather than a box to check. Also determine if any of your health questions could be reworded or are unnecessary.
- Use gender-neutral bathroom signs, if you have a single bathroom. A bathroom is a bathroom, after all. (A great bonus of this is less waiting for the right one to be empty!)
- Be aware when asking personal questions. A simple “Do you have children?” can be hard on some clients, for various reasons. Stick to asking clients about their needs and activities so that you can give a great massage.
- Reach out in person at local events like pride days or LGBT Center events. Just search Google for LGBTQ events in your city. You could volunteer, give a talk about stress—and how massage can help relieve it—or do some chair massage.
- Get the word out on social media. Use rainbows, because the rainbow flag is commonly used as a symbol of LGBTQ pride and LGBTQ social movements, and let everyone know that you have a welcoming practice.
- Stay educated about LGBTQ terminology and concerns. Things change, and as health care professionals we need to stay informed.
- Of course, client confidentiality is a top priority for all clients, and we can make sure that all our clients understand that their information will never be shared or discussed. This can eliminate any concern about this that clients might have.
- Add a phrase such as All Are Welcome Here or Welcoming Practice to your marketing materials. This way, people will know that you are an ally—and they will be more comfortable calling you.
- Invite back each client you see, to take care of his or her body and mind.
- Keep an open mind. We are all raised with specific beliefs and values, and by examining those values and keeping an open mind we can grow and change. As the great Maya Angelo said, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
Gael Wood has more than 20 years of experience in the massage and spa industry. She now concentrates on training massage and spa therapists in business, spa services and greater success. Visit gaelwood.com for a complimentary Massage and Spa Success Toolkit. She wrote “Step Out of Your Comfort Zone—and into Your Success Zone” for the August print issue of MASSAGE Magazine and “Create a Script to Improve Sales Communication with Clients” for massagemag.com, among other articles.