I met with a friend of mine last week for lunch. She happens to be a very busy massage therapist. In fact, she hasn’t had room in her schedule for more than a year now for any new clients. Her schedule is full of returning clients, regulars she has seen for years (mostly active athletes). She told me that she is bored with her work and wondered if I had any ideas what she could do about it. She was almost embarrassed to share this information with me, because she is very grateful for the business and she really feels good about the work she does. It’s not about being done with massage as a career in general; she’s just bored with doing the same things on the same clients week after week. She doesn’t feel intellectually stimulated anymore.

Please note that this post is not a question of whether someone should or should not even get bored as a massage therapist, because of the ever-changing bodies and challenges we work with, etc., etc. No, there are plenty of arguments to be found out there discussing this topic from philosophical perspectives and personality perspectives. And, this is not a discussion of whether or not her clients are getting the best treatments possible because she may be apathetic about giving those treatments—I can assure you that she’s very good at what she does and her clients gain tremendous benefit from her treatments.

The truth is, there are some practitioners out there, very good practitioners in fact, who are getting bored with their work and they really do want to know what to do about it.

So, I gave her the few pieces of advice that I had:

  1. Take interesting CE courses. If you can find CE courses that teach you new techniques or approaches, you might be able to integrate those into your current treatments. The goal, of course, would be to find new approaches that benefit your current clients. But you could also take courses that treat a very different type of client than you are used to, and then try to find new clients that would benefit from the new approach.
  2. Try new techniques or approaches with current clients. In my friend’s case, she doesn’t have room in her schedule to integrate new clients. So, she has had to try integrating new stuff with current clients. This one is tricky, though. Once you and a client have figured out what works for their condition, it’s hard to justify trying new things just because you are bored. And in my experience, clients get used to a certain type of treatment and they are reluctant to try new things—they just want what they want.
  3. Try new tools or products on current clients. It may be possible to give a very similar treatment (one that your client is used to and expects) by using different massage tools to achieve the same goals. And if you sell products (or even if you don’t), you could try integrating new products into your sessions, like lubricants or warm towels or other bolstering accessories or whatever might mix things up for you but maintain your client’s treatment expectations.
  4. Change your schedule and integrate clients with different needs. If you have a typical clientele (like active athletes, in my friend’s case), you may just want to find some different types of clients. Save a few spaces in your monthly schedule for new clients, but make sure that the new clients who get those spaces have very different needs than your current, typical client. That will allow you to try new techniques and approaches while you investigate what works for some new conditions. If you have a very full schedule, this one might require losing or rearranging a few current clients to make room for the new ones to return. Another tricky option.

But that’s all I could think of, folks, so I’m reaching out to you, our larger practitioner community, for other ideas:

Have you experienced boredom? If so, what have you tried that has worked to overcome that boredom (besides giving up your practice altogether)? How have you attempted to renew the intellectual stimulation that you desire from your work?