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Creating client-friendly library in the clinic

Whether your massage business has been long established, or you’re a shiny new grad laying the foundation of your practice, how do you set yourself apart? Learning how to be competitive yet unique in a saturated market is the easiest way to attract clientele. Social media has helped immensely with free advertising and client education. Blogging provides an interactive resource for proactive clients eager to research more about their conditions, hydrotherapy, remedial exercise and complementary therapies.

October 13, 2015  By Jules Torti

Providing enhanced patient experience through a literary library in your waiting room can increase the likeability of your massage practice. Whether your massage business has been long established

For the population that falls into the non-tech demographic, those who seek books over the dizzying array of online intel, we can step in. Providing therapeutic massage and its derivatives is a given. Maybe you already offer a selection of loose-leaf herbal tea post-treatment or take-home sachets of Epsom salts to clients. Perhaps you have copies of scalene and quad stretches at the ready, to better equip your client when the massage buzz wears off and they return home, wondering whether to flex, extend, ice or rotate that compromised muscle.

A broader approach to well-being and home care would be to re-invent the concept. Most of our clients are already in the active phase. They have sought out a treatment, have agreed to a treatment plan and are probably also seeing an osteopath, chiropractor and physiotherapist. A growing number seem to be solidly in the yoga groove and are punching back at the notion that chronic pain has to be chronic. A client I recently treated for a cervical nerve impingement refused to allow radiating pain and sleepless nights “become her lot in life.” Clients are open to any experience that might alleviate their symptoms and are subjecting themselves to the likes of wet cupping, meditating, salt caves and, better yet—learning more.

With clientele approaching us from a more educated stance, our role as massage therapists is changing. We need to extend what we can offer and provide an experience that moves beyond a one-dimensional appointment.

I tripped on the idea of curating client-friendly bookshelves after witnessing the enthusiastic rally around the free library movement. Do you have one in your neighbourhood? If you visit the Little Free Library ( online, there is an immediate pull to get involved. Whether you take a book, leave a book or build your own little patch of literary real estate, it’s impossible to not want to get involved. The mantra just makes sense: “To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide and to build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity and wisdom across generations.”


Offering a free clinic library might even convince clients to arrive earlier to appointments – just to browse the bookshelves. It would naturally encourage communication and provide convenience for time-strapped individuals. Your expanded resource area could act as a public library with a disclaimer that books must be returned within a reasonable time frame (which would in-turn increase client retention and repeat visits). An alternative would be to operate under the Little Free Library’s motto: “take a book, leave a book.” This would allow for a rotation of topics on your shelf.

To get the shelves started, a blanket e-mail, Tweet, Facebook post or in-office advertising requesting book donations might be all you need. Check out the shelves at Goodwill or Value Village or garage sales. The health and wellness area is usually well-stocked with discount books on sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, migraine management and chronic pain.

Have fun creating your own library, catering to your clientele’s interests. Check out some of these suggestions to kick start your literary drive.

Colouring outside the lines
The latest and greatest craze is adult colouring books. With a promise to “release your inner child and get back to the times you miss,” the books are being snatched up as an accessible alternative to a hot bath, mindless movie or catnap. They are indulgent, satisfying and require a narrow focus that cuts out the white noise of our adult days. There’s no expectation, no deadline – it’s pure play. They’re intricate and stimulating, but as calming as a cup of hot cocoa and wool sock-bottomed feet warming by the fire.

For recent Vancouver College of Massage Therapy grad Sharla Bowker-Sauder, colouring was the perfect outlet while she wrapped up her studies. She wanted a copy of Johanna Basford’s The Secret Garden as soon as she heard about it. “Talk about delicious right-brained frivolity after all that left-brained overuse! My family got into it too. We drank wine and shot the breeze while we let our inner kids come out to play.”

Try leaving an inviting open copy of this book in your treatment space for early arrivals to decompress. Don’t forget to provide some sharp cerulean and violet Crayolas.

Gold medal picks
Olympian Clara Hughes’ hotly anticipated Open Heart, Open Mind will be released this fall. As an unexpected ambassador for mental health awareness, her memoir about the quicksand of depression can only help facilitate deeper channels of discussion and recognition. Her involvement with the Bell Let’s Talk campaign has already created a publicity stir. Tackling a subject that is still battling taboos and misconceptions, Hughes will be reaching an even bigger audience than the one that saw her sweep six medals in cycling and speed skating.

In the Olympian niche, rower Marnie McBean’s The Power of More demonstrated how a chronic lumbar injury (and her inability to continue in the sport) was spun into a positive new direction and role. After a 15-year career with the Canadian Rowing Team it seemed only natural that she specialized in athlete preparation and mentoring with the Canadian Olympic Committee. Her book is equal parts inspiration, cheerleading and proof that physical injury doesn’t have to win emotionally.

Gut feeling
If you’ve ever had diarrhea, a misdiagnosed itchy-scratchy skin condition, raging heartburn or pinworms for that matter, GUT: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders covers it all with simplistic slap-stick but fact-dense reasoning. The illustrations by graphic designer Jill Enders are playful and turn GUT into equal parts Far Side comic strip and seriously fascinating intestinal tales. If you skipped endocrinology class during college and opted for a pitcher of beer with bored classmates instead, this manifesto will impress with the truth about roller coaster puking, chocolate-covered toffee cravings and bad-breath inducing tonsil stones and raw sauerkraut remedies (I guess I skipped that class too). Enders, a 25-year-old PhD student at the Institute for Medical Microbiology in Frankfurt, Germany, has already found herself on the bestseller charts, selling over a million copies. Her examination of studies on swimming mice, motivation and depression is fascinating. Read this one before you put it on the lending shelf, and I guarantee you’ll be reading half of it out loud to whoever is nearby.

Help contribute to this list (and bookshelf) by adding your frequently recommended books here. Send me an e-mail and let me know what’s on your bookshelves.

Jules Torti has been a RMT since 1999 and a freelance writer since age six. In between massage engagements, she travels to Africa to be with chimpanzees and writes about her zany travels for Matador Network.

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