A new proposition – the beauty therapist as accredited listener

Updated: May 27, 2020

The Collective Corporation has launched Connection Therapy, a programme that trains and accredits beauty therapists to listen to their clients in a therapeutic way, thereby offering a value-added service.

Connection Therapy was the subject of a presentation given by ESP Online director, Karl Markwald, in a Professional Beauty webinar held on 21 May and moderated by Phil Woods, commercial director of T.E. Trade Events.

The Collective Corporation is a collaborative forum comprising approximately 150 members that provides the opportunity for the industry to work together to come up with solutions to particular challenges.

Markwald said the COVID-19 lockdown and pandemic will lead to a black swan event in the industry. He continued: “A black swan event is essentially where you get to change the game. After lockdown, salons won’t be able to operate as they always have. I do believe that there is hope at the end of tunnel – we just have to change our way of doing business. It’s common knowledge now that salons will have to implement enhanced hygiene and sanitation protocols once they are allowed to open their doors, and if you haven’t already started training your staff in this, you are behind the curve.

“As a member of the Collective Corporation, I strongly believe that the industry must stand together and formulate policies and frameworks to impress on government that we are a professional industry. Then we can introduce new ideas, such as Connection Therapy, to our clients.”

Markwald, who comes from a computer science, organisational psychology and business information systems background, expects that when therapists are allowed to work with their clients again, there will be an initial rush for services. “Then, business will tail off as clients will say they don’t have money. So, how can we create new business? You have to reinvent yourself constantly to be relevant. As as per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – at the core level you need safety (water, food, shelter, community) and then you need love (to be heard, to be valued, and to have a meaningful life and purpose). In the wellness industry we work on these two factors every day, with every client. We listen to the client to hear what they want from the particular session. And on top of that, we are valuing them and improving their own perception of their own value.

“Connection Therapy was conceived out of this, together with a doctor’s expertise. My thrust in the Collective Corporation is – why can’t we take what we’ve always said unofficially, that our staff do act as therapists to our clients who use them as sounding boards, and turn it into a value-added service? If the client feels heard, there will be a sense of connection and it starts to offer value because it gives a perspective on their life. I must stress though that listening doesn’t mean offering solutions and that beauty therapists who undergo the training must not end up thinking they are psychologists. The key requirement is to listen carefully. If they can do that, they also need to be objective.”

Markwald is putting together a framework for Connection Therapy training and accreditation via platforms such as Zoom and WhatsApp. “We want to create virtual workshops where the doctor will take therapists through the process. The training and accreditation will not be charged for – we just want to get salon owners and staff accredited and to test the technology of what we are proposing. Therapists already create the feel good factor on the outside through their face, body and nail treatments; Connection Therapy will create the feel good factor on the inside.”

He notes that the doctor collaborating with the Collective Corporation has worked in education and in schools and that her PhD received world acclaim for its premise, which is centered around the African tradition of storytelling. (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)

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