Importance of Consent and Boundaries in Tantric Massage
Tantric massage therapists work with clients through touch. This body-based therapy is suitable for those wanting to heal trauma or sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or vaginismus. It is equally suitable to those clients who want to learn to expand the amount of pleasure in the body, and learn about tantra. Because of the potentially high levels of intimacy during the sessions, it is especially important for practitioners to teach clients about consent and boundaries.
What Is Consent and What Are Boundaries?
A boundary is something that the client or the therapist can set in terms of what is okay and not okay for them to happen during the session. This can include not receiving touch to particular body parts, not participating in certain exercises, or choosing not to talk about certain things. Consent is when the touch that is given has been agreed upon and is within the ‘okay’ range.
Boundaries and consent are important in order to create a safe environment for both client and practitioner. A good therapist should always respect a client’s boundaries, and not push them to change at any point.
There are different types of consent. Firstly, a client should give written consent for the session to go ahead. Secondly, a therapist should ask for verbal consent during the session for more intimate parts of the therapy, such as a lingam with prostate massage or a yoni massage. Finally, energetic consent is about feeling into the client’s body to notice whether a written and a verbal ‘yes’ match the body language. If the body is saying ‘no’, even if written and verbal consent have been given, a client may still be outside of consent. It is therefore important for the therapist to observe the client carefully during the session.
Boundaries and Consent Are Fluid Concepts
For clients, boundaries are flexible and can change during the session. For example, just because a client was okay with having their hand touched five minutes ago doesn’t mean that they can’t decide that they no longer want this touch, and the other way around. The exceptions to this are any written boundaries; these cannot be changed during the session. It is important that the therapist keeps clear and consistent boundaries when working with clients, and does not suddenly change them during a session. If a therapist is not respecting your boundaries, or pushing you to change them, they could be a sexual predator or abuser.
The reason why therapists cannot move boundaries, which were agreed upon at the start of the session during the consultation, is because when sexual energy comes into play, male and female clients may make irrational decisions influenced by the moment. If the therapist oversteps agreed boundaries during the session, this may lead to feelings of abuse and it may traumatise the client. Trauma can often be the reason why people seek tantric healing in the first place. Therapists subscribe to a code of ethical practice, so that they always have the best interests of clients at the core of their work, and are trained to hold a safe space for sexual energy, and prevent ‘re-traumatisation’. This is why agreed consent and boundaries are of such importance within tantric therapy. Boundaries however can be discussed and adjusted before the next session.
Tantric Healing Encourages You to Learn to Say ‘YES’ and Say ‘NO’
In our culture, many of us were not taught about healthy boundary setting as children, and this can lead to issues in our adult relationships. Many of us struggle to say ‘NO’ when we mean it, and end up saying ‘YES’ to something that is not really okay for us.
As the creation of a safe space is an important element in tantric massage and tantric therapy, it is imperative that clients feel that they can express when something is not okay for them. One way to do this is to learn to be embodied, noticing what is happening in the body, and whether it is a ‘YES’ or a ‘NO’.
Boundary work is really an art, and takes time to get used to and perfect. A good way for those starting out on the journey of being more in tune with their body and their truth is to practice saying both ‘YES’ and ‘NO’ with conviction, and notice how that feels in the body.
Saying ‘PAUSE’ and ‘STOP’ During a Tantric Massage Session
During a therapy session, a client is able to say ‘PAUSE’ at any time to have some time to check in with themselves as to what they are really wanting in that moment, and where their boundaries are. Clients are also able to request for whatever that is happening to ‘STOP’, and this should always be honoured and supported by the therapist.
With time, clients will be able to tune in more not only to what is not wanted by them, but also to what they are wanting in each moment. Therapists can help clients to express their desires, welcoming clients’ honesty and bravery for asking for what they want.
Hearing a ‘NO’
Of course, just because a client asks for something, does not mean that the therapist will do it – this depends on their boundaries, too. Boundaries and consent work involve and important element of learning to hear a ‘NO’, and to notice how it feels. At first, hearing a ‘NO’ may bring up feelings of rejection or other uncomfortable emotions. With time, a ‘NO’ from another becomes a gift that they give you. This is because if you can trust their ‘NO’, you can trust their ‘YES’, too. If you hear a ‘NO’ from anyone, you can thank that person for being honest, and for looking after themselves.
Importance of Practicing in a Safe Container
Summing it all up, clear and honest communication helps to create a safe container in which healing, learning, growth and expansion can take place. It gives clients more opportunities to explore any fears which come up, and to be able to share what is really going on for them. It helps both clients and therapists to be clear about what they want to give and receive, and these communication tools can prove useful for relating with people outside of the sessions, too. Learning to love and honour yourself and your truth can be a deeply healing and transformative experience.
Saying ‘YES’ and saying ‘NO’ sounds so simple. And in reality, is an infinitely complex art of self-exploration and self-expression. I would highly recommend the work of Betty Martin on the Wheel of Consent to anyone interested in exploring this further (video below).
How to find a qualified tantric therapist
If you feel like receiving tantric healing might be of benefit to you, please go to our tantric massage directory. All therapists listed are screened for qualifications to make sure you get the best experience. You can also read our guide on how to find the right tantric massage therapist for you.
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