To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Maintain Your Balance: 9 Steps to Better Therapeutic Presence and Healthier Boundaries,” by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, in the September 2011 issue. Article summary: What we provide, as massage therapists, is more vital than ever for the health of our clients. The time our clients have on our tables, of slowing down, tuning in and relaxing, is more than a welcome oasis of quiet and tension relief. In today’s world, it provides the very foundation for a healthy immune system. But what about us, the massage therapists providing these stress-relieving sessions?

by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana

Revisiting the three scenarios described in the printed article, this is how I would advise each of the massage therapists:

• Gail’s own issues are being triggered if her first feeling is relief when she realizes client John is not angry at her, but at his work situation. I often see this response when a therapist grew up in a household where, as a child, she was blamed for things, often with attendant, inappropriate anger or abusive actions.

By recognizing what is happening in the current moment versus what is old, Gail can begin to stop inadvertently taking on clients’ anger and being upset by it. Then, as she learns how to fill the container of her own being with nurturing sensation, she can practice healthy boundaries when this comes up in her practice or in her life in general.

• Janice’s tense response to client Nancy tells us she still has some unresolved issues regarding her own divorce. When these are resolved, her life experiences in this area will be a source of strength and a resource for her clients, rather than a drain on her system.

Again, this is a boundary issue with self-empowerment at the core of it, so recognizing what is Janice’s and what belongs to her clients is the first step. Then, doing her own healing work is next so she can come to the table with a full container of a strong therapeutic presence and healthy boundaries.

• Tom’s sympathetic response to client Debra indicates he is expecting himself to be able to fix it all for her. He is leaning into his client, with an unhealthy need to do it all. This opens him up to unconsciously starting to carry it for the client, which meant he walked away with her headache.

His goal should be to rest back in his own field, do the best he can and then let go of the outcome. He will probably be surprised by how much better his clients do with this approach.

For further references and client examples, see Full Body Presence: Learning to Listen to Your Body’s Wisdom, by Suzanne Scurlock-Durana, or visit her website at for a free five-minute grounding and filling exploration. A frequent contributor to MASSAGE Magazine, Scurlock-Durana has taught CranioSacral Therapy for The Upledger Institute since 1987, and is the developer of the Healing From the Core curriculum, which teaches conscious awareness and its relationship to the healing process internationally.