Finding The Right Massage Therapist For You

A masseuse can make the difference between having an “ahh” massage session or a stressful one. Coming out of a massage feeling tense is contrary to the purpose of a massage. Therefore, the right massage therapist for you is important.

In the last few decades, massage therapy has blossomed as more people than ever seek it for relaxation, to reduce pain, rehabilitate injuries, and improve overall well-being.

Massage therapy is the manual manipulation of muscles, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments. Whether you are looking for rehabilitative or relaxation therapy through massage, it’s important to get the right massage therapist for you.

While recommendations are good, sometimes the same massage therapist that your friend swears by may not be suitable for you. Here are some tips to help choose a massage therapist and come out of your massage feeling better than when you went in.

Your Responsibilities in Choosing a Massage Therapist

  1. Identify your needs before making an appointment. If you are looking for a relaxing massage, such as the Swedish style, most places offer it. However, if you have a specific injury or condition, you may need someone trained in neuromuscular therapy.
  2. If you have a preference for the gender of the masseuse, make sure to tell the receptionist at the spa when making the appointment.
  3. Communicate with the salon or therapist what kind of massage you want. For example, a massage therapist may be good at deep tissue massage and not so good doing a gentle one.
  4. At the beginning of the session, let the therapist know the areas you don’t want to be massaged.
  5. Let the masseuse know if you have a specific area where you want a little more focus or an area that is injured.
  6. During the massage, speak up if you are uncomfortable in any way, including if the pressure is too light or too heavy.
  7. You take the lead on whether you want to have a conversation during the session. If you are quiet, the therapist should respect that by also being quiet except for giving instructions.

The Basic Qualifications of a Good Masseuse

It’s your body and your health, so at a minimum, it’s essential to choose a trained, skilled massage therapist. Trained masseuses not only study the various styles of massage, they learn the science behind massage like anatomy. Also, you may want to consider a therapist who has graduated from an accredited school.

Many massage schools are accredited through organizations, such as the Commission On Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). Accreditation denotes that the school follows standards set by the accrediting organization for meeting or exceeding quality education, integrity, and professionalism.

Make sure the therapist is insured, licensed or certified. Most states require massage therapist to be licensed. Training, licensing, and insurance indicate the therapist views massage therapy as a profession.

Additional Qualities of a Good Massage Therapist

Communications – Next to being trained and licensed, a good therapist will have excellent communications skills. Before you undress, the therapist should explain what to expect and ask you questions about your health, allergies, and your concerns.

Comfortable – The therapist should make you feel comfortable. They should explain that you undress to your comfort level and give you privacy to disrobe. The masseuse should keep the areas not being massaged draped at all times including when you turn from one side to the other.

Attentive ­– The masseuse’s attention should be on you and your needs. The therapist should be engaged in what he or she is doing and not just going through the motions. A good massage is more than just the mechanics of manipulating tissue; the masseuse is present and shows it by being focused on you.

Massage therapist Kathy Ginn, L.M.T says in an article in Massage Magazine that a good masseuse is a good listener and knows that the client wants to know,  “Do you see me? Do you hear me? and Do you authentically care?”[i]

A good masseuse is skilled, respectful, trustworthy, makes you feel safe, communicates, and listens. While a massage therapist may have all the necessary qualifications and training, a massage session is a subjective experience. Don’t feel disappointed if the first one is not to your liking. You may need to try a few massage therapists before finding the right fit.

[i] Ginn, Kathy, Create An Atmosphere Of Safety And Trust, Web.


Ginn, Kathy. Create An Atmosphere Of Safety And Trust. Retrieved from

What is Massage Therapy? Retrieved from

How Can I Find the Right Massage Therapist? Retrieved from

Massage & Bodywork State Licensing Requirements. Retrieved from

How To Choose A Qualified Massage Therapist. Retrieved from

Ryason, Stephen, LMT, MMT. The Importance of Critical Thinking and Clinical Reasoning For The Massage Therapist. Retrieved from

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