How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

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How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby drea543 on Mon Jul 16, 2012 3:27 pm

For the record, my main massage therapist is incredible but I have been to a few therapists who, while not awful, definitely didn't inspire a return visit. Okay, there was one awful one...

So I was just curious how an MT knows whether they’re good or not. A few of the things that I enjoy about my MT is that she is consistent – whether she’s telling me what aromatherapy fragrance she’s using or telling me that she’ll knock before she comes in but I also know that being courtesy will only get you so far.

Her massages are well-paced and she employs different techniques from session to session. The pressure (for me) is just right. She's confident but not cocky and her hand movements are precise. She is also very good at putting me at ease.

So, really, how do you know if you’re delivering a quality massage/experience or to use a sports analogy – how do you know that your massage is Jordanesque? :smt012 Or Pippenesque? -- Feedback? Repeat Customers? Referrals?
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby JLWmassage on Mon Jul 16, 2012 4:45 pm

I think massage is very subjective. You need to know what you do and don't like. Are you looking for a full body massage then you wouldn't want to book with me because I don't offer a full body. And vice versa.

And if you are lucky enough to find someone who has fit your needs than stick with them
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby randomness0 on Mon Jul 16, 2012 6:27 pm

The thing I always find interesting is that you can virtually tell the minute the therapist lays their hands on you whether the massage will be right for you. And by the same token, from communicating with the client before the session, finding out their particular requirements and massage experiences plus your first laying hands on the client to begin palpation, will, in my view, give you an indication probably 8/10 times whether you are right for them at that time.

I always screen incoming calls to try and match the clients stated requirements with the therapists skills/abilities/personality but don't always get that right. If you have no choice regarding the client on the table in front of you then you can only do your best, work professionally and within the constraints of your training. Don't try to be something you are not. At the end of the session, you will know whether you are comfortable with the quality of bodywork that you have delivered to the client.

However, your question "how do you know if you’re delivering a quality massage/experience" is a good one and the fact that you know that you have worked to the best of your ability does still not guarantee that you are giving the right experience and being a massage therapist can feel like being a deaf piano player at times. Feedback is too subjective in my view as often you will only get the feedback that the client thinks you want to hear. Returns are obviously a good measure but the fact that someone does not return to your table does not indicate that you did not meet their requirements and the reasons for non-returning clients may often be more about them that you. If you were to track the proportion of returns over time then it might give you an indication of how you were travelling although external factors could impact on this potential measure.

I have been struggling a little at present with this issue and have even thinking of giving away freebies (to other therapists/health care professionals?) in return for constructive criticism (as opposed to feedback per se)

Good Luck
Richard
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby pueppi on Tue Jul 17, 2012 9:35 am

I also think much of it is from the feedback you get. Honest feedback, that is.

And, I believe if we are honest with ourselves, we know our strengths and weaknesses.

Using art as an example, because art is related to bodywork in so many ways... I am great with pen & ink as well as pencil, but put me with an oil or acrylic and I can't find my way out of a paper bag. That's talking about mediums.

Now, let's consider other more technical skills... drawing a face as oppossed to a skull. I can create a skull that is phenominal. But, the face... not so well.


So, I'll take that over to massage. I know what I am good at. I know where and when I get results. I know that after 8 sessions of 20% improvement, it may make sense to suggest you find another practitioner. I know that if you are on my table and you don't smile with your eyes when you leave, there is a problem. I know that if you don't re-book with me for a year, it doesn't mean I am bad at my work, when you show up and say... "I've been meaning to get back here and life passed me by." And, I know I am not a fit for everyone.

But, I am excellent at my craft. I have worked hard to get here. I have studied, I have learned, I have gone above and beyond the average practitioner. And, there is a certain amount of pure gift that I have been given in my life, according to this work.

I also believe that many of the therapists on this particular forum have the same. Otherwise, we would not be here.

I hope that helps.
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby riversinger on Tue Jul 17, 2012 11:33 am

I agree with pueppi's response & would also add, that if a client rebooks with you right after their session, or even weeks, or months later, they were generally pleased with the session they received. Also, if they refer others to you it's another good indication. That said, every client is different, in terms of their needs, likes & dislikes, as well as comfort level with receiving various types of work. Some people only like, or think they like light/swedish for instance - if so they may not appreciate those of us who tend to work more deeply & therapeutically.

If however, you are a practitioner like I am, who educates your clients and suggests what might be more effective for them, and encourages them to speak up as to what makes them uncomfortable, or is simply to much pressure, then they may be more open to having a session that will result in better range of motion, freeing up deeply held tension, etc. You might introduce them to techniques they've never experienced, such as Hot Stone if they've never had it before, and have them get hooked on it!

Always ask them a few simple questions prior to starting, especially with someone new, & have it on your intake/case history form: Have they ever had a massage before? If so what did they like or dislike about other sessions they've had? What is their goal for today? Do they have any specific problem areas, old injuries, acute or chronic pain at anytime (such as with the knees, getting in & out of the car, up & down the stairs for example or from an old whiplash/car accident). Also what type of work do they do, what hobby's do they have, or have they been using their body in a different way than usual (starting a new workout program, taking up tennis/racketball, etc). If they're sitting at a computer all day, or doing hair styling, construction work, all of which will typically result in specific body tension/holding patterns. All of this is designed to provide the practitioner with the information that helps to guide them to give the client a session they'll get the most out of.

Those of us who've been doing this work for years, and studied various modalities usually have a very good idea as to what will work for those who come to us for treatment. I always screen my potential clients, & ask them a few basic questions, like those above when the appointment is made via phone or email. This lets them know that you are professional & that you're interested in providing them the best service possible. So much of being a "good MT" isn't just about the work itself, it's about how you conduct yourself, and that you communicate well with people, show them that you care about what you do & provide services geared to meet their needs. It's also about running your business like a business, setting regular hours & session rates, etc.

Of course therapists can always make some exceptions - as needed - but setting boundaries as to the schedule (such as no same day appointments, etc.) is an important thing & you'll be treated like the professional you are when you set the rules. Always do your utmost to be fully present & aware of your client's time, checking in to be sure that your pressure is good for them, that they are comfortable with what you're doing, & with being on your table with the temperature, bolsters, etc. & it's most likely you'll have a satisfied client!
Last edited by riversinger on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby drea543 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:12 pm

JLWmassage wrote:I think massage is very subjective. You need to know what you do and don't like. Are you looking for a full body massage then you wouldn't want to book with me because I don't offer a full body. And vice versa.

And if you are lucky enough to find someone who has fit your needs than stick with them


Valid points.

I will stick with the therapist that I'm currently with but I had gone to another MT who, although young, had to retire because of tendonitis in the wrist.

I definitely prefer full body massages (and have other preferences) but I also think there are other fundamental components of a really good massage. I've also heard of people who go to several therapists -- one who is able to put them to sleep and one who is able to do deep tissue etc...
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby drea543 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:25 pm

The thing I always find interesting is that you can virtually tell the minute the therapist lays their hands on you whether the massage will be right for you.


This has happened to me.
:)


However, your question "how do you know if you’re delivering a quality massage/experience" is a good one and the fact that you know that you have worked to the best of your ability does still not guarantee that you are giving the right experience and being a massage therapist can feel like being a deaf piano player at times. Feedback is too subjective in my view as often you will only get the feedback that the client thinks you want to hear.

I have been struggling a little at present with this issue and have even thinking of giving away freebies (to other therapists/health care professionals?) in return for constructive criticism (as opposed to feedback per se)



Richard, I like your deaf piano player comparison and you make a good point about feedback. If I felt like someone had good intentions but the massage was, say, disjointed and rushed, I would probably try to be diplomatic about the experience and say what I thought the therapist wanted to hear.
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Re: How do you know you’re a good massage therapist?

Postby drea543 on Tue Jul 17, 2012 8:01 pm

Pueppi & Riversinger,

Thanks for your responses; I found them insightful and helpful.
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