Tamara McBride files her client's fingernails and without looking up, asks her about her evening plans.

It’s a question she asks everyday, every manicure. But there are times she hears about more than social calendars.

“I had a woman who was in a really violent situation and it was really hard for me,” said McBride. “I was always worried about her.”

There’s something about sitting in a salon that makes people want to share. That’s why a new program in Waterloo, Ont., is training beauty professionals to help clients who may be victims of domestic violence.

The Women's Crisis Centre of Waterloo region is offering the one-hour course to salon professionals to better equip them in counselling clients. It’s called, appropriately, Cut It Out.

Tamara McBride

Tamara McBride signed up the whole staff at her Kitchener salon, House of Angels Spa, for the Cut It Out Program. The program trains salon workers to spot signs of domestic abuse and respond. (Jackie Sharkey/CBC)

“Every situation, of course, isn't one of domestic violence,” says the Centre’s Carolyn Albrecht. “But there are signs and helping them know what those are will help them identify what they are even though she may not be disclosing them in words.”

The first training in Waterloo is in early October. The centre says it has approached hairdressing schools to offer the training to those getting into the business.

“Salon professionals are not counsellors. They're not therapists. They may really want to help but they don't have the tools to know what to say, to know where to refer people to or even to know how to recognize the signs of abuse,” says Albrecht.

McBride has signed up for the first training in October because she says she was a victim of domestic violence 35 years ago.

She knows she can't  fix her clients' problems but at least she'll be able to offer them information about where they can get help.

“It will empower them to think: I can change my life. My life can change,” she said.