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Author Topic: Draping question
Member # 1317

posted 05-30-2004 10:50 AM     Profile for greatkate     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I am new to this profession(just got started after graduation in april) so I am always full of questions, but only can ask this 21 year old girl at my work who I don't think is as smart as she likes to believe she is. She always tries to make me feel dumb, but I am currently looking to get out of that place anyway. But here's the question..I was going to massage this guy at my chiropractors office and told him to undress to his level of comfort and get under the top sheet face up. Well I come in and he's under this little towel, not the sheet. I didn't know what to do. How was I going to flip him without seeing more than I wanted to? It was pretty awkward, but I just got an extra sheet from under the table, covered and flipped. Well, then I had to massage him again just recently and I was sure to really tell him to get UNDER the sheet. Sure enough, I come in and hes under that little towel again. This time I didnt have any extra sheets. I didn't know if I should leave the room or what? I decided to flip him anyway but that didn't really work gracefully and it made me very uncomfortable. I asked the girl I work with what she does when she massages him and she said she just holds the towel up and lets him flip. She said at her school they were tested on "Towel draping", which I have never heard of, then she said all smart that just because my school taught me something doesn't mean its the right way or the only way. Maybe this is true, but should you really be massaging people like that in a professional environment. I was just taught o respect the integrety of a massage and my instructors were always teaching us how NOT to get yourself into sticky situations. Am I being too prudish?? Is towel draping a draping technique? I studied really hard for my national exam and scored highs in all four areas and never came across "towel draping".Please give me some helpful input.
Posts: 23 | From: Atlanta, GA | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1260

posted 05-30-2004 02:22 PM     Profile for gutehands     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Kate, when I was in school I politely gave the same directions, had my table perfectly set up, top sheet corner folded back at a sharp clean deliberate angle so it was easy to see and get under, hand towel folded and rolled into a neck pillow at the head, and I still had a guy plop on top of the sheets facing toward the FOOT of the table with the little hand towel over his glutes!

I said, in a very friendly but firm (and very audible) voice, "Ooops! Sorry if you misunderstood me, Mr. Smith, please get UNDER the sheet." And closed the door.

First time I would say he could be nervous, and not understand...thinking "Club Med" or something like? Second time, and I would think that this person is testing boundaries. Towel draping is done, usually in a hospital setting, but normally with bath towels.

I could joke and say, "Hide the handtowels!"

But I think you were fast on your feet grabbing the extra sheet, as I have often done in the past.

The next time you do that, you might let the patient know that you will do all you can to make him comfortable if the room seems to warm or too cool, but it against professional standards to massage a patient without proper draping. And if he bothers to argue, you might add that you are very sorry, but it is against your personal ethics to treat patients who have trouble respecting that.

It would be a lot easier to deal with if your colleague wasn't so lax about protocol.

You may choose to talk with her about it, first, if you plan to stay. I don't know what your chiropractor is like, but generally it works best if everyone working in the clinic is on the same game plan.

If the doctor isn't interested in enforcing proper standards, you may have to do that on your own. Not easy, but you'll be glad you did!

This is a creative group. Better advice may yet be on the way! Hope this helps too.


Posts: 169 | From: WA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Member # 829

posted 05-30-2004 02:25 PM     Profile for Pete   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote

I've heard of some MTs doing towel draping too. I don't do it. Are we talking about hand towels or bath towels? Since I doubt the client is bringing in his own towel, the one thing I might suggest to you is that you hide your towels or keep them in another room...also, I always turn the sheet down on the table for my client...with the sheet turned down, you can easily get the sheet out from under their legs and cover them with it should you come into the room to find that they are lying on top of the table.

Hope that helps!

Posts: 85 | From: Sacramento, CA | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1260

posted 05-30-2004 02:40 PM     Profile for gutehands     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Pete, top sheet folded down is a good suggestion! I've used towels, but bath size, and not for clients playing the boundaries game.
Posts: 169 | From: WA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jen B.
Member # 991

posted 05-30-2004 04:42 PM     Profile for Jen B.     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
My understanding is that towel draping is fairly common in spas. Personally, I too think that it is a little risky, and could send some inappropriate messages.

As for what to do, you have several choices. First, as Gina said, if you come back into the room and the client didn't get on the table, under the sheet, as you asked them to, then correct them--be as clear as possible and then leave the room again. Second, don't leave the towel on the table. Have it on a chair or side table, and just fold the top sheet back. Then you can be sure that if you come back in and he is just laying there on top of the sheets, he is pushing the boundaries, and if he is under the sheet, you can easily lay the towel on top of him. In some ways, I find this to be easier, since most people are pretty tangled up in the sheets and towels when you come back, anyway.

Are you one of only two therapists in the office? I agree again with Gina, in that everyone should probably be on the same page, so talking either to the doctor or the other therapists and coming up with a common protocol, at least for draping, seems like a good idea.

Stick with your boundaries, no matter what. You have set your intention and your boundaries for a reason, not because you are "prudish". It is common to have to correct people's mideducations about massage therapy, even when those things may have been enforced by another therapist with flimsy boundaries.

Just my input. Good luck and congrats with finishing school!

Posts: 67 | From: Montana | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged
Member # 99

posted 05-30-2004 05:29 PM     Profile for Anne     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
If the client is on top of both the sheets, you might try pulling the top sheet up from the bottom of the table, between his legs, to cover his glutes (diaper fashion). Scoot the top of the top sheet down to the hip as well. When you go to turn him, ask him to hold onto one corner (you might tie these ends together) and turn him away from you. This forms a diaper up between his/her legs. There are some creative ways to tie the corners as well. Depends on what you are doing and how active the stretches, etc. are.
Posts: 548 | From: USA | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
Member # 85

posted 05-30-2004 09:54 PM     Profile for weeks   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
Client comfort/preference plays a role in draping.
It's quite warm here and I don't enjoy being draped with a sheet, unless arms legs and chest/back exposed and then I've got this mound of sheet piled on my mid section and/or I'm diapered with a ridiculously humongous towel. Small towels work. (for some).In Wi I enjoyed a heated pad, sheet and large fluffy blanket or two.

Posts: 618 | From: Kailua-Kona, HI | Registered: Jan 2000  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1317

posted 05-31-2004 11:29 AM     Profile for greatkate     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I am so grateful for all the advice. I am glad I know somewhere to go with my q's. I think the root of this problem is like you said, not everyone being on the same page. I am going to talk to the doctor about it, because all of us(there are three therapists) do things completely differently and I think this can be confusing to the patients who dont know what todo with who. There always using the face rest for a "pillow" when there are laying face up, so I cant do their necks, and different habits like that that I dont know where they got that from. All in all I work in too negative of an environment where whenever I ask a q's to that girl, she tries to look smarter and make me feel dumb-not a good place to be. It's wierd to have spent all this money and time in massage school and have to go to work hating it and feeling uncomfortable. MAybe a spa would be more fun, but until then I am going back to waiting tables and trying to freelance where I set my own boundries and only have to massage the people that I feel have a positive energy. Hope everyone is haveing a pleasant memeorial day and thanks again for the response!
Posts: 23 | From: Atlanta, GA | Registered: Mar 2004  |  IP: Logged
Member # 44

posted 05-31-2004 03:11 PM     Profile for JeAnne   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
I've received massages using towel draping, but don't use the procedure myself. There are so many draping methods (including none available until the therapist enters the room, which is quite common in Europe) that I look to local regulations when in doubt.

While there is a lot to be said for the client's comfort level, the situation as it was described raised a red flag for me. Had the client spoken up and said he preferred less draping when instructed to be under the sheet the second time, I'd think less of it. I've only had to fire one client for inappropriate requests, but since that started out with him requesting no draping (I compromised by using the diaper drape) I'd wonder if this client is testing you. Meeting clients where they're at doesn't mean you should make yourself uncomfortable.

As for difficulty with the co-worker, that's sadly not uncommon when a new therapist joins an office. She's right that there are many ways to handle just about everything in this field and that no school can cover everything, but it sounds like she's not pleased you're there. As for the folks using the face rest for a pillow, you can always ask them to reposition so you can address their neck. It might not be a matter of what they've grown used to with another therapist, as much as they're not sure what to do.

Posts: 252 | From: Charlottesville, VA, USA | Registered: Nov 1999  |  IP: Logged
Member # 1260

posted 05-31-2004 07:18 PM     Profile for gutehands     Send New Private Message   Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
its not fun to admit, but there are very few of us who have not experienced a taste of cut-throat politics at the hands of peers. Try to hang in there, and don't let it affect you. If you can do that, you'll be able to take hold of ANY promising opportunity and make it work for you. If you don't, you might always find yourself at the mercy of someone who is trying to "psyche you out".

Its that important!

I know what is baffling you was also a surprise to me! I was introduced to my career in massage by a very loving, very loved and respected professional. When I enrolled in school, she made me a student member of her Medical Massage group, and THEY seemed to be great hearts, and very helpful people as well.

So I went into the field thinking that those who chose Massotherapy as a profession were all caring, helpful types of people.

Wooooh ho! From the start of school on, my eyes were sometimes stung painfully open. There are certainly VERY special people who come to massage,

like the members of this Board

... but as the field expands, it becomes like any field, attracting all sorts...the cold, the competitive, and sometimes destructive personalities as well.

I could share horror stories! *lol* I've been trying to, in fact. I started a thread on the "general" topic, hoping to ALSO bring to light the worst experienced at the hands of co-workers, as a help to us all.
I know I would be interested to read how those situations were survived, coped with, and conquered.

But its just not easy to discuss.

In any case, it never made me hate the work.
We get back so much positive response from our patients that even in a situation that felt the worst, I still came in to work smiling. Let that be your teflon coating

Explore the topics a bit, and see that whatever you are experiencing you are not going through it alone. Surviving it, being able to put it in perspective without INTERNALIZING it, is very key to success in this field.

You can really go your own way!


Posts: 169 | From: WA | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged
Member # 489

posted 05-31-2004 07:28 PM     Profile for irubu     Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote
If you are going to stay in this business. You need to take control of the situation. You are the professional. If they don't listen to you step out and wait for them to do as instructed. I have had people jump on the table fully clothed and in the buff. It did not matter what I said to them. You just have to step out and let them adjust. If they are unwilling to do it have your Chiro deal with it. If you feel uncomfortable at anytime walk out. Any place that does not back you up is not worth working for. Some people don't hear you or don't care, either way it is your choice to treat them and you need to be confident.
If your coworkers don't do it that way it is their business. They are professionals too and it is not your place to tell them how to do their job. If your boss wants to set a policy it is up to them.
As far as towel draping goes did you ever consider turning your head away from the offensive area. You may not have a choice in some spas. If they use towels they usually have a bath sheet, but I have worked with some smaller towel too.

Posts: 112 | From: | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged

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