Dear Clients, Massage Therapists Deserve Your Respect Too

Working as a massage therapist has many privileges. I get to help people relax and let go of their built-up tension and pain. I am providing a naturally healing service without the use of artificial drugs and allowing the body to bring itself to wholeness. And, best of all, I do what I love. However, working in such an industry can have its downsides as well, chief of which are the occasional clients who have little to no respect for the therapist's time.

Let me give an example of a recent issue we had. A group of three ladies came in for a four o'clock appointment and had scheduled to have a thirty-minute group sauna session before their sixty-minute massages. They arrived on time (in fact, it was literally right at the time that their appointment was supposed to start), but instead of quickly changing and allowing us to escort them to the spa's couples room, which had the largest sauna and could accommodate all of them comfortably, they undressed and promptly jumped in the shower in the ladies' changing room. All of us therapists were a bit baffled by this, as we did not see why anyone would jump in the shower to clean off before getting sweaty in the sauna and then getting oiled for a massage. Not only that, but now the time taken for the shower would inevitably push back the appointment time even further, and one of the therapists had another client shortly after these ladies were supposed to be finished. We had also been warned, as if this wasn't enough, that this trio had been known to stay for several hours after the appointment had concluded, possibly preventing us from going home, as we are responsible for cleaning the spaces our clients use after they have left. Fortunately, the receptionist generously told us that she would send us home and take care of everything if they did choose to stay late.

Somewhat anxiously, we watched as the minutes ticked by and debated how to handle the situation. We discussed whether we would need to cut their treatment time short in order to leave the other therapist time to prepare for her next client. But this didn't seem like a good idea because we knew they would probably complain if they realized that they weren't getting their full time. Added to this was the fact that we knew these women happened to be friends of the owner, and we certainly didn't want to offend them! Finally, as they finished up their showers thirty minutes into their appointment time, we agreed that we would tell them that they had twenty minutes in the sauna and that we would simply cut five minutes from their massages without telling them if we needed to do so.

As we escorted the party to the couples room, the woman who had arranged the spa treatments for them asked me if they could stay in the couples room following the treatments and just relax. I was hesitant to say yes, both because we have a separate relaxation room for that very purpose, and also because it would prevent me and my fellow therapist from cleaning the room once we had finished with their massages. I told them it was possible but that I would have to check and see that the room wasn't needed after their treatments were completed. With that, we left them to their twenty-minute sauna session and then came back at the appointed time to give them their massages. Despite what the schedule said, they actually wanted deep tissue rather than Swedish, so we had to make that adjustment as well. Overall, it was a somewhat stressful session for all of the massage therapists, but we did our best to make it pleasant for the guests.

Fortunately, the trio were very pleased with their massages, and they even agreed to go to the relaxation room when we suggested it rather than staying in the couples room, meaning that we could clean and hopefully be on our way for the evening. But the hassle of such an experience left all the therapists drained and a little frustrated (or a lot, in the case of my colleague who had to rush to prepare her room for the next client), and it reminded me how unfortunate it is that not everyone respects our time.

Another instance of a client disrespecting a therapist's time comes from a colleague of mine, who has been dealing with this particular client for over a year. The client will schedule a consistent massage time of once-a-week for five o'clock in the evening. However, she rarely keeps that appointment. Rather, I should say, she keeps the appointment, but only after having texted my colleague multiple times to see if she can come at either an earlier or later time for her appointment. Sometimes, the client will even show up earlier without confirming that this is all right with my colleague. Other times, she will be running late and will push back her appointment multiple times, meaning she may come anytime from 5:30 to 6:30. Obviously, this is not at all fair to my colleague, who is a mother and wife and has a family to go home to in the evenings. Unfortunately, the lack of respect for her time means that she consistently cuts her client's sessions short (principally when her client is running late). Obviously, this is a no-win situation for both client and therapist! If the client would make the effort to be consistently on time instead of nearly always running late and requesting to push back her appointment, my colleague would be much less averse to massaging her and would be better able to provide a pleasant massage for the full length of the session.

So clients, with these stories in mind, this is a courteous reminder for you. Massage therapists are people too! We have lives to run, schedules to keep, rooms to clean, other clients to accommodate, homes to return to, dinner to fix for our families, children who need help with homework, and loved ones who need to see us before we tumble exhausted into bed. Despite the fact that we love being there for you, we cannot necessarily be there for you past your scheduled session. Please be kind, and remember that our time is valuable as well! I can assure you that your time spent with us will be much more pleasant for you if you will respect our time, because then we won't be stressed about it and will be able to devote the proper attention to your needs.