Video: Working with ticklish massage clients

New video! This one’s about working with ticklish massage clients in a tickle-free way:

This might not seem like a big deal, but to especially ticklish clients? This is a huge deal. Let me explain why.

The phenomenon we’re discussing here is called “gargalesis,” which is the type of tickling where intrusive contact is applied to sensitive areas, often resulting in tensing and involuntary laughter. When you’re a kid in a tickle fight with a friend, this can all be good fun. When you’re a massage client trying to get help for a painful shoulder? That same tickle response can feel downright unpleasant. If your massage therapist isn’t able to make the changes necessary to prevent it from happening repeatedly, it can result in an exhausting hour of anxiety.

In the video I give 7 tips for changing your massage to send a signal of safety and soothing, even while working specifically. It can be as simple as keeping a broad hand nearby, which you might recognize as the “mother hand” concept from shiatsu. You might start in safe areas, allowing that ticklish spot to be part of a broader move. You might even find that working through the drape turns off the tickle response altogether!

This will be different for every client, just like ticklish areas and intensity will vary from person to person. Some people won’t need any special care taken around their axillary region, and some people will simply need you to avoid it. Let your massage adapt to each unique client, and don’t get bogged down in what you “need” to do to work with a particular type of pain. Experiment, communicate, and let your client lead the way.

Got any tips for working with ticklish areas? Leave them in the comments below!

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