For the shiatsu therapist, too much confidence is dangerous and too little is debilitating. Confidence has to be ‘just right’. Not too hot, not too cold … Just right.
This delicate balance is important for any shiatsu practitioner but for the new graduate it is crucial. Having a mentor is one of the most reliable ways to both monitor and maintain a good level of practitioner confidence.
Most often the shiatsu practitioner works in a solitary situation. Either from home or out of a clinic where we are the only shiatsu practitioner, if not the only practitioner. Confidence in our ability as a therapist, confidence in our ability as a small business operator, and confidence in our own being are foundational requirements for the shiatsu therapist to be successful in their practice.
Having informal peer support through a network developed to swap shiatsu sessions and share experiences is an effective way to maintain confidence and momentum. Another way is to engage with a formal mentor. When I graduated and was beginning to practise shiatsu professionally, I found that having the ongoing support of my teacher was a stabilising anchor that allowed me to step into the role of therapist with confidence. I could debrief individual sessions, I could get technical advice, but most of all, the confidence gained from simply knowing he was there, allowed me to swim without the floaties.
On the other side of the coin, offering your experience as a mentor carries responsibilities. It is not something to be taken lightly. I feel that it is important to, firstly, have the ability to listen with undivided attention; and secondly, be able to offer advice based in personal experience. These two components form the foundation of good mentoring. Finally, and probably the most important ingredient, is the rapport between mentor and mentored. This is crucial, for without trust and respect, there is little likelihood of a positive outcome.
Perhaps something to think about in strengthening the shiatsu community, is to be a practitioner worthy of the role of mentor. Just as simply getting older does not necessarily make us an elder, so too does clocking up the years as a shiatsu practitioner not necessarily qualify us as a mentor.
Honour the art.