by Nick Lakoff CMT
During my 15 year career as a massage therapist I have come across many myths and misconceptions about massage in general. In this article I wanted to share with my readers 3 of the most common ones and try to give them my perspective as a bodyworker.
MASSAGE THERAPISTS CAN’T ACCEPT TIPS. This is a myth that needs to be nipped in the bud. There is a portion of the general public that don’t tip their massage therapist because they are under the erroneous impression that they cannot accept tips. This myth might have derived from people associating massage therapists to the medical profession where doctors and medical professionals are strictly forbidden to accept tips or presents as part of their deontology code (rules for ethical, moral and philosophical conduct by a professional). The truth is, massage therapists rarely command huge salaries for several reasons.
Most massage therapists are independent contractors which means they only get paid if there are clients. Since there are ups and downs in the business, when there are no clients, they don’t get paid. In some rare cases if a massage therapist works for an employer that does pay a regular wage, it usually means they are paid much less per massage. Massage is hard physical work and there are only so many hours in a day. Good massage therapists have to limit how many massages they can do in a day simply in order not to burn out or develop a work related injury. Limiting how many massages you do a day also ensures that the first massage is as good as the last one you perform that day.
Most massage therapists start out working for spas, sports clinics or massage therapy centers. This usually means that they get a fraction of the cost of the massage as payment for their services.
Regardless of the case, typically MTs will receive about a third of what you pay for your session.
It is true that some massage association deontology codes forbids the acceptance of gifts but this rarely includes monetary gifts. For example if a client gives you a bottle of alcohol or tickets to a concert it could signal a sign of transference (the transfer of feelings or emotions for a person to the therapist). Money in the form of a tip has the advantage of being fairly neutral in that respect unless the amount is disproportionate with the cost of the session.
So the next time you go to your appointment and your satisfied with the service you received, be sure to show it by leaving a tip. As a rule of thumb, leave 10 to 20% as you would for a waitress at your local restaurant.
MOST MASSAGE THERAPISTS DON’T MIND HAVING APPOINTMENTS CANCELLED OR RESCHEDULED. Although most massage therapists I know are easy going and customer service oriented, I don’t know any of them that are not bothered if clients don’t show up for an appointment and/or don’t call or try to reschedule at the last minute. In contrast, this happens much less to doctors, physiotherapist, chiropractors and other professional. Of course if there are legitimate reasons why you cannot come and in these circumstances most massage therapists are understanding and flexible. The simple act of calling ahead of time is a sign of respect and consideration that some people overlook. When there is enough time before a cancellation or rescheduling, the massage therapist has a chance to book someone else and not lose massage revenue. As Aretha sings so well, it’s a matter of R-E-S-P-E-C- T!!
ONE MASSAGE SHOULD FIX ME UP. I can’t count the number of time that clients have come to me via referrals and because of the reputation I have as a masage therapist expect me to miraculously relieve them of all their aches and pains. The beginning of my sessions always includes managing my clients expectation. Much of the time if someone gets to the point where they have to see me, it usually means that the issue has been around for years and has come to a head. I always tell my clients in those circumstances that one or two more session if not several will be necessary to correct a problem or simply give them back a quality of life. Everyone’s means and availability is different so I never push it on them but clearly point out the advantages of sessions in the closest interval possible. Whatever kind of therapy a client chooses, I tell them to stick with it for a time to make sure that it has the chance to work. Massage does have the advantage over other therapies of being quite pleasant and relaxing as well as serve a therapeutic objective.