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Office Protocol

How to Find the Right Therapist — Office Protocol

While western-style deep tissue massage is practiced in many forms, there are certain basic ideas that are common to most of the forms.  And if you have not yet experience this kind of massage, you should read the following information and cautionaries:

Ask about credentials.

Massage is so popular now that almost anywhere you go, you should be able to locate a credentialed, experienced therapist.  States do vary in their requirements, so ask also about national certification and other training.  The therapist should be able to give you a list of credentials and perhaps some references.  In fact, most people find their therapist through friends and relatives.  Be careful of discount advertising . . . the therapist/client relationship is important.  Discount prices won’t last, and the experience may be a trade-off for inexperience.  You’re in it for the long run!

Feel free to interview the potential therapist ahead of time.

This can be done by phone, or perhaps the therapist will speak to you in person between other appointments, if notified in advance.  You should respect the therapist’s time and be efficient in your conversation, however.

You may have to agree to a cancellation policy.

A busy therapist can still see only a small number of clients a day — it is a work-intensive profession.  Therefore, most must establish a reasonable cancellation policy (usually, 24 or 48 hours notice).  Be prepared for this.

They may be flexible with regard to illness, unless their flexibility is abused.

Arrive promptly . . . not too early, not too late.

Again, massage therapy is work-intensive.  Few privately practicing therapists get rich!  To economize, many work from home offices or share space with others.  Reception area may be limited.  They may not have access to a receptionist.  To avoid interrupting the previous session, please be timely.   And being late may lead to reduced appointment time for you or cutting into the following client’s time.

A clinical therapist should take a complete medical history.

While massage techniques can be adjusted for just about every client, there are some contraindications for regular massage.  For example, if you are pregnant, certain specific protocols must be followed.  We need to know if you have circulatory problems or metal implants.  Certainly, you should not be sick or infectious when you come in (talk to the therapist via phone about alternatives).  While many things are common sense, it’s surprising how often clients forget to inform the therapist about details that are important.  What’s not important to you may be very important to us!

Your medical history is an essential part of designing the appropriate and effective treatment plan for you.

A professional therapist should explain thoroughly each step of the massage process ahead of time.  Any concerns about privacy should be addressed before the session.  

A trained therapist should be aware that a massage session, even clinical, is a very personal thing.  The therapist should explain “draping” – – i.e., how we keep the body covered and your privacy respected.  If there is anything that makes you ill at ease, speak up immediately!  Although the situation is extremely rare, do not hesitate to pack up and leave if you are uncomfortable with any situation.

I have introduced many clients to massage over the years.   Many come in feeling nervous, since this is a new experience for them and a rather personal one.  Also, popular misconceptions about our profession can unfortunately confuse potential clients.

I cannot recall ever having a client remain ill at ease for more than a few minutes, after they understand my protocol.  I introduce them to my treatment area, explain what they should do, and always leave them alone to undress and lie on the table.  There are covers for them, and no private areas are ever exposed.  Throughout the session, the client should remain covered except for less private areas being worked (arms, legs, neck, back, stomach, and so forth).  Sometimes, individual clients may not want even these areas to be exposed or worked on.  It may just be a personal hang-up.  Regardless, the therapist must never go against those objections.  We can almost always work around it!

It has become amusing for me to see, over the years, people who are anxious become so immediately relaxed on the table.  They realize that I’m a professional and respectful of them, and the environment is so soothing that, well, they can’t help but calm down, and sometimes even go to sleep.  Some of my regular clients fall asleep almost immediately at the beginning of their session.  I am grateful for their trust.

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