“When to say yes, how to say no, to take control of your life” (Cloud and Townsend, 1992)

Cloud and Townsend give a practical visual impression of boundaries as “lines that separate one’s property from another’s”.  To me, this definition is a straightforward, grounding concept that I can apply in my daily life.  Those “lines of separation” resemble building blocks that root one’s value system, becoming distinguishing factors that separate our responsibility from that of another.  Furthermore, boundaries extend, impacting the decisions that we make based on our ability to say an authentic “No.”

My boundaries have evolved considerably throughout my life.  My biggest transition involving boundaries came about during my early adult years, navigating the shift between tertiary education and working in a corporate environment. This change involved exposure to more people within the work-space, broadening my perspective on life. Instead of only interacting with my family and school friends, I began to establish myself and my boundaries within this new environment.

In my late 20’s I started working as a Somatologist with a prestige guest compliment at the Cape Grace Hotel.  During this time, reflecting on my own boundaries, I went through a process of integrating them within a broader context.  To me, this meant having to navigate my own values in relation to the hotel’s values, whilst meeting the guests’ expectations.

Back then, a key value of the Cape Grace was to “under-promise and to over-deliver on the guest experience” ensuring elements of pleasant surprise, evoking the clients delight.  This maintained the vision of ensuring each guest experienced a “home away from home”.  Navigating a fine line between keeping things too casual and being too professional / rigid, I sought to have a friendly and respectful approach. To me, this meant introducing myself to the guest clearly and professionally whilst maintaining a personable disposition.

Starting each treatment became a ritual. What was usually a customary administrative task became so much more than a mere 5-minute consultation. I used active listening skills coupled with gentle probing questions, which allowed the clients to safely express their needs and feelings to me without interruption.  Based on their responses, I could honour the client’s values, the hotel’s values and my own, synthesising the three whilst ensuring the highest quality treatment for all at that point. In addition, pre-empting guests needs whilst ensuring their optimum levels of comfort during treatments. This enabled me to make sense of the diverse values that I was integrating within this therapeutic context.

Ultimately,  my goal was to mimic that same positive experience of contentment that I experienced as a 14-year old having my first deep cleanse facial treatment.

The positive guest feedback I received mainly mentioned the consultation experience. Right from my first point of contact with the client, boundaries that maintained the values of all parties involved were clearly established. Integrating all three value systems meant that not only did they feel like their needs were being exceeded, I aligned my therapy within the context of the hotel’s world-class spa offering. Oftentimes one feels like this is a daunting or even impossible fusion to achieve, but not only can I tell you that it is completely doable, I can also help you to achieve it within your own offerings.

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