My massage practice is a constantly growing, expanding thing. I love to learn new ways to provide care to my clients, sometimes that comes from taking a class, sometimes that comes from the clients themselves.
I recently had the opportunity to take a workshop in Dermoneuromodulation (DNM), which was a wonderful paradigm shift in a lot of ways, but also validated much of what I do already with some solid science. It's a mouthful, but when you break it down, it's not such an intimidating concept: dermo- skin, neuro- nervous system, modulation- change. This method is an approach to interacting with the body, particularly in terms of pain, through the nervous system. Gentle, feedback focused, and flexible, it is also very empowering for the client.
After taking my first DNM class, I felt really energized by the material and excited to share what I'd learned with my clients. The several days following the class, I incorporated bits and pieces in my sessions to really positive feedback. I was starting to feel pretty confident.
I had a regular client come in experiencing severe pain, and I told them that I had some new things that I wanted to try that I thought would be quite helpful. I walked into the treatment room with the confidence that my new skills would be just the thing to, (*wince*), fix their pain.
It did not start well. I tried a few things and nothing improved. They were more sensitive to touch than they had ever been in past sessions, and everything I tried just made things worse. They were getting frustrated. I was getting frustrated. After all, what was I thinking? What made me think I suddenly knew all the answers after taking a weekend course?
I stepped back and reconsidered the approach. The first problem was that merely lying prone on the table was causing them discomfort. So we adjusted. We tried a few different positions and bolstering until they were not experiencing any pain at rest.
I tried to shift my thinking from mimicking a specific protocol to applying broader concepts. We found a few hand positions that not only did not create more pain, but actually felt good. At the end of the session, they got off the table without the pain they had come in with.
I had to get out of my head, out of my ego, out of the second guessing, and into the client's experience to get there.
Diane Jacobs (the namer/originator of this approach) refers to the ongoing process of learning about the pain experience and the mechanisms behind it as "walking through fog on a narrow footbridge". I'm taking my first few steps.