The Therapist's Touch

What separates an amazing therapist from a good therapist, or even from a bad therapist? Undoubtedly, certain characteristics come to mind. Someone who really cares. Someone who shows you the kind of respect that you deserve as a human being. Someone with the energy level and professionalism that helps keep you calm and relaxed. Someone with the intuition that helps them pinpoint and treat your problem effectively. Someone who takes the time to really listen to you and attend to your needs.

While these characteristics, as well as many others that I did not list, are applicable to any therapist, they are especially important for the massage therapist because we work with the body in such a unique way. When you go to any other therapist to sit with them and talk about your issues, they may give you a friendly pat on the shoulder, a sympathetic squeeze of the hand, or even a hug; but massage therapists have a license to touch. It is a sacred trust and one that most of us take very seriously. You are entrusting us with not just your bodies, but with your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. The therapist's touch can heal or harm in untold ways.

It is because of this profound effect that clients should be careful selecting a massage therapist. While it is true that most of us take the obligation we have been given with all seriousness and respect, there are some out there who practice massage therapy with other ends in mind – from desiring only to make a large amount of money to receiving sexual gratification from their sessions, at the client's expense.

When you go to a massage therapist for the first time, listen to your instincts. Do they seem as though they are interested in listening to your needs, or are they just interested in getting you on (and back off) the table as quickly as possible? Do they take the time to go over your intake with you and offer to answer any questions you may have? If you express concerns over having certain areas worked on, do they really listen to your concerns and either offer to avoid those areas completely or work on them in a way in which you are comfortable? Do their actions towards you make you feel as though they are flirting with you or attempting to sexualize the therapist-client relationship? You must be comfortable in order for your massage session to be effective, so if something is making you feel off kilter, first ask the therapist to adjust or fix it. If they refuse to do so, you have every right to end the massage session, whether you have already started receiving work or not.

The therapist's touch is powerful. It can bring tremendous relief, tranquility, and healing; or it can bring suffering, turbulence, and damage. Be sure that you are going to someone who will truly treat you as the amazing person that you are.