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The Importance Soft Skills

The Importance of Soft Skills  


In preparing for Colloquium 2024, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I observe in my clinic and in the therapists I meet at trainings around the country. Each Colloquium has had a different focus, but all have followed the same process of creation. In Colloquium 2024, the theme is Connections. As stated in the overview of the conference on our web page, that can be applied to many aspects of the work.

In the segment that I am doing on the second day, the application is about the connection between the therapist and the client. The more I prepare for this, I realize how fundamental this has become, not just in PNMT, but in every aspect of life.

A couple of years ago, I spoke at a national gathering of educators in the field of massage therapy. Part of the presentation was on the importance of soft skills in the practice of massage therapy. When I asked the group how important they thought soft skills were, the response was an enthusiastic yes. I then asked the group a follow-up question. “How many of you spend more than two hours of soft skills training in your entry-level programs?” Almost no hands went up. If it is so fundamental, why do we spend almost no time training people in these skills?

Fundamental to this process is the understanding that soft skills are exactly that- skills. Skills can be developed, but only with training, discipline, and focus. Yes, it is true that some people naturally have better skills than others, but that doesn’t mean that training can’t improve one’s capacity for these skills. In the same way, some people naturally have an ear for harmony, but ear training can develop these skills when done correctly. As a fun example, a researcher in Japan did ear training with three-year-old children to develop perfect pitch- a skill that naturally happens in about 1 in every 10,000 children. With focused practice, every single child in the study developed perfect pitch.

Looking at my own experience as a clinic owner, very few of the complaints I have had from clients had to do with the clinical technique choices of my staff. Almost every complaint over the last forty years can ultimately be traced back to a soft skill communication problem.

This is why I am excited to explore this issue in Colloquium 2024. The goal is to distill many aspects of soft skills into an actionable plan that therapists can apply to their practice immediately. As with everything we do, we are laser-focused on down-to-earth, clinically applicable approaches.



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I wish you much success with Colloquium 2024. As an attendee of Colloquium 2013 and 2015, I can say these collections of information have stayed with me. They changed the way I saw my massage practice and let me grow as a therapist in ways that helped my clients benefit. So glad to hear they continue. Thank you for the gift of knowledge, Doug. All my best from Allissa from Iowa, living in Sweden

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