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Client Education Series 8: 9 Things to Check When Choosing a Massage Therapist

April Heath


You’ve seen the ads. Beautiful people luxuriating on a massage table, surrounded by candlelight and flowers.

But whose hands are those?

How do you know whether the massage therapist asking you questions is qualified to meet your needs? What about bedside manner? Are you safe?  Will that therapist pay attention to your specific concerns?

9 Qualifications and certifications: 

In Florida, massage therapists are required to complete 750 hours of education from an accredited massage therapy school. Then they have to pass the State exam (it’s really hard, by the way). Then they apply for a license. To maintain licensure, a massage therapist must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years. License renewal is every odd year.

8 Specializations: 

If you’re unsure what massage you need (there are over 200 different kinds of massage), the best place to start is probably a Swedish massage. It’s generally safe for most people and is effective at inducing relaxation.

If you’re expecting a baby, then prenatal is best suited for you. Prenatal can be modified to accommodate expectant mothers during all trimesters. Some therapists even invest in prenatal support pillows.

Maybe you’ve experienced spas around the world. You’re savvier than others, so try a signature service.

7 Experience: 

A therapist’s experience level and how long they’ve been practicing may or may not influence your decision in making an appointment. If you’re simply looking for someone new, or a classic relaxation massage, often massage therapy schools have clinics for their new grads to get started.

On the other hand, if you’ve recently undergone plastic surgery, your surgeon will recommend something specific like manual lymphatic drainage. In that case, you can always double check with a massage therapist for that specific certification.

6 Referrals:

You probably know someone who’s gotten massages. Ask for a referral, and be specific without disclosing sensitive information. You don’t want a massage therapist who only knows Lomi Lomi if you need Myofascial Release for your hip joint.

If you don’t know anyone who’s ever had a massage, try asking a chiropractor, orthopedist, cardiologist, physical therapist, personal trainer, esthetician or other professional who’s likely to know a massage therapist.

5 Directories of Massage Therapists:

If, for some weird reason, you can’t find someone to give you a referral, you can always rely on a directory. 

4 Online reviews:

Online reviews as a guide are similar to referrals. “Amazing massage” is kind of vague and subjective. You’d do yourself a favor to seek some details in people’s reviews to find a match. Google reviews for my service are here

3 Communication and rapport: 

Building a rapport with the therapist to ensure a comfortable and effective massage experience is so important. A competent and legitimate professional will consult with you before you get on the table. Expect to complete an intake form, and to answer some questions about your medical history and goals for the service. 

A therapist who’s never seen you before may go the extra step to describe what you can expect from your visit. Draping, where to leave your clothing, whether to get on the table face up or face down. If the pressure is uncomfortable at any time during your session, feel free to express that. Expect the therapist to accommodate you without getting “in their feelings” about it.

2 Professionalism and ethics: 

It’s perfectly within your rights to request a tour of the therapist’s facility before committing to an appointment. Cleanliness, boundaries, and adherence to ethical guidelines should all be ticked off in the PLUS column on your list.

1 Gut feeling:

Lastly but maybe most important, trust their instincts and choose a therapist they feel comfortable and confident with.

These considerations should help you feel confident in selecting a massage therapist who will attend to your concerns, or even refer you to another therapist who can. 

How did you find me? Leave a comment below. All comments welcome and responded to.

Read the prior post in my Client Education Series – Osteoporosis and Massage.

Be well,


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