can be a powerful healing agent for mind , body and spirit . According to current thinking among trauma treatment experts , body-mind approaches combined with specialized trauma treatment modalities are much more effective than traditional talk therapy . However , if we want to better serve individuals struggling to heal from trauma , we must examine our assumptions and shift our approaches to help them heal .
Many organizations have begun to reconstruct their customer service guidelines to include the tenets of Trauma-Informed Care . These principles were originally designed by agencies who served veterans of the Vietnam War and have been embraced by a growing number of medical and mental health providers and other organizations to support clients and coworkers who may suffer from trauma .
One long-time ISPA Member , Canyon Ranch , has made this a focus over the past few years .“ We began to create a culture and environment of trauma-informed care , which means that on every level , from the top leadership on down , we introduce this idea of trauma . We are actively shifting our focus in terms of management into a trauma-informed one ,” said Amy Hawthorne , life management director at Canyon Ranch in Tucson , Arizona , during ISPA ’ s Stronger Together Summit in 2021 . “ This means that we walk out into the world and interface with colleagues and guests with a level of empathy and understanding that we might not have had .”
A Trauma-Informed Approach Unlike Canyon Ranch , your spa may not have an in-house team of psychotherapists to help create a more trauma-informed culture . But you can still take steps to transform your organization so all guests will have the opportunity to truly enjoy a spa experience .
“ According to current thinking among trauma treatment experts , body-mind approaches combined with specialized trauma treatment modalities are much more effective than traditional talk therapy .”
One place to start is The University of Buffalo ’ s School of Social Work ’ s online resource center , which suggests examining how the following concepts play out in your environment , culture and standard operating procedures : l Safety – Creating areas that are calm and comfortable l Choice – Providing an individual options in their treatment l Empowerment – Noticing capabilities in an individual l Collaboration – Making decisions together l Trustworthiness – Providing clear and consistent information Let ’ s examine these ideas in the spa using a trauma-informed lens .
Safety Since most spas are intentionally designed to be peaceful sanctuaries , the environment creates a backdrop for calm , comfort , and safety . But the space is only a part of this equation . The more important consideration is how the interpersonal interactions and energy in the space help people feel safe .
FOR CONSIDERATION : As you examine your guest flow and your employee work experience , look for ways to make people feel welcome , heard , appreciated and understood . Ask yourself : Are there any jarring sounds , lights or smells ? How are transitions handled when a guest goes from one space to another or employees move between service encounters ? How are guests acknowledged in each space or interaction ? Are your employees trained in both verbal and non-verbal communication cues so they are on the lookout for guests or coworkers who may be uncomfortable or distressed ?
Choice , Empowerment , Collaboration Ideally , treatments and classes offered in the spa are designed with informed consent , collaboration and empowerment in mind . Service protocols typically outline procedures instructing the provider to introduce the service , give an overview of the service to set expectations , ask relevant questions about previous experiences , preferences and offer choices along the way regarding music , temperature , depth of touch , aromas , products , etc . and then act on the guest ’ s responses .
We should also consider these factors in developing all standard operating procedures ( SOPs ) throughout an organization to help employees have an optimal amount of control over how they do their jobs , as long as service standards are achieved .
FOR CONSIDERATION : As you examine each of your current SOPs , see if there are ways to invite more realtime feedback , enhance the feeling of
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60 PULSE • MAY / JUNE 2022