First you have to find a qualified Massage Therapist. Sounds simple enough, just look through the yellow pages and point, right? Not quite, because most are not going listed. So, like all things in life, you must do your homework. This is no different than choosing a plumber or having the brakes fixed on your car. Okay, more important because someone is working on your body and it cannot be patched with duct tape. In most cases.
The selection process often starts by polling your friends and family that have received massage. Be prepared to ask them what they liked most and least about the work they received as well as the therapist. Try to learn how much they know about the MT’s background and qualifications. Keep in mind that because a particular therapist appealed to them, there is no guarantee that you will enjoy their work to the same extent. Selecting a Massage Therapist is a very personal process and while a recommendation may prove to be a good partnership, be open to trying more than one.
It’s more important than most people initially realize just how much they need to trust the person who is working on them. Ultimately you want a Massage Therapist with whom you can build a long term relationship, someone who will have your needs and best interest in mind. A good massage therapist will be trained to spend time with you doing a thorough assessment and then develop a treatment plan based on their observations and your input. They should always put your needs before their agenda and be respectful of you and your requests. If you go into a session with little than “Hi, get undressed and I’ll be right back”, you are very likely in the wrong place. (In future I’ll start a thread so we can all share our horror stories!)
Back to the yellow pages for a moment. The best form of marketing in any business is word of mouth; marketing yourself through referrals. Many massage therapists live and unfortunately fail to succeed by this principle. There are many reasons for this but I feel the most common are they either take it too literally, become complacent with their practice after a certain level of success, or simply can’t afford to do anything. Many massage therapists simply do not advertise at all so in order to find them, a client would have to depend solely on word of mouth. This is no reflection on their abilities, just examples of business practices. It’s a catch-22 for the client and the massage therapist; it’s often tricky to find us, and we certainly don’t do everything we can to make it easy. As a client you deserve to be well educated and informed not only about the benefits of massage, but the background of the person you are contracting with to help you with your problems. More often than not, you won’t learn much about the massage therapist you’ve selected until you actually meet them.
It’s a changing landscape and as a profession we need to adapt to meet the needs of our potential and current clients. During the years I was Program Director at the Louisville School of Massage, I taught Business and Marketing, stressing the need to embrace the evolving advertising platforms through the internet. Daily, society becomes more dependent on the internet, as a service based business, we need to be there waiting for people to find us. While print advertising will continue to be cost prohibitive for most therapists, the medium we can afford and cannot ignore is immediately within our reach.
Websites and social media outlets are becoming the consumers choice for information and there has been a marked increase over the last year among massage therapists. I see it as just one more way we can help make your life easier!
More details in part 2!