by Nick Lakoff, Certified Massage Therapist
You have had a long week, you have put in the hours and now your long awaited massage has finally arrived. So what should your massage session look like? As a massage professional, I have always believed that the client’s massage experience starts from the minute they book an appointment to the minute they walk out the door at the end of the massage. Here are a few things that you should be present in any quality session:
- Becoming familiar. Does the therapist do a health history? A short oral or written health history is generally a good idea for a therapist to take, not because there are many contra-indications to massage but because the information helps us to tailor our massage more precisely. It is also a good time for therapist and client to get a good feel for each other and build trust. Rather than having clients fill out a form, I always do the health history with them and, when required, ask more detailed question. This helps me get to know the client and set them at ease. I always let them know that everything that is said between us stays in confidence much like doctor/patient confidentiality.
- Stick to the plan. Do they set an objective for the session? Setting an objective with a client is like filling out a work order with a contractor. Both parties have a better idea of what the job entails and what is expected. When I set an objective with a client, I am listening to what they want in their session and planning my work accordingly. Just like a contractor, I will try to manage their expectations if they give me too big an order for the time allowed. If they ask me to save some time to work on their feet, and I forget to do so, then I have failed in accomplishing the objective. Sometimes, however, I give myself a bit of leeway by us agreeing that, if I should encounter an area that needs more work and is a priority for the client, I can divert from the original plan.
- To talk or not to talk, that is the question. Does the therapist communicate with you if you have comments or questions? I always tell my clients that they should feel free to tell me if something is too hard, uncomfortable, or painful. I also ask if they like something in particular in the way of massage or if they have any questions. I also tell them that if they feel like talking during the massage they can or they can simply be silent and I will accompany them in their mood.
- Do you want that gift-wrapped? Does the therapist use proper draping (Drapage) technique in order ensure warmth and protect your intimacy? I always make use of the sheets in such a way to accomplish this in a fluid and respectful manner. Do they leave the room and only return when you have covered yourself with the sheets? If they cannot leave the room, is there a changing screen that allows you to change privately? I have always made sure that I give my clients the opportunity to change privately before and after the session, even in the case where my clients were comfortable being in the nude in front of me.
- Hasta la vista baby! Does the session end abruptly, and do you feel rushed to leave, or do they sit down with you after the massage to go over the session and collect your feedback? I always allow for extra time to sit down with my clients after the massage to go over the session, get their feedback, answer any questions they might have, give them my impressions, as well as any suggestions to extend the results of the massage, and set a follow up session. I always end with a handshake and a smile and I always make sure that I thank them for their business.
In my next article, I will be giving a more detailed description of Swedish massage, its uses, and its benefits.
Nick Lakoff is a certified practitioner in the following disciplines: Swedish Massage, Sports Massage, Reflexology, Acupressure, Myo-Fascial Release, Massage for Pregnancy, Swedish Chair Massage, Hot Stone Massage and Reiki.