Massage Therapy Etiquette

Massage therapy sessions are naturally intimate procedures. A massage therapist oils, kneads, touches and relaxes the client’s body and plays soothing and escaping music in the background. Whether it be receiving or providing this service of healing it will surely be an intimate experience. Although a professional massage is licensed and within the confines of a spa or office, both parties can develop insecurities, feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. This can be especially true of those receiving a massage for the first time.

The massage therapist is trained and responsible for creating a soothing, relaxing and professional environment for the client’s pleasure. In this same way, the client is also responsible for communicating with their therapist in order for them to properly provide a service which is comfortable and without issue. Highly experienced therapists are also able to direct the client through the massage so there is as little confusion as possible about the process.

There are several aspects of a massage which raises the eyebrows of clients which should be noted:

1.Clothing: Each massage type will outline the amount of clothing a client should wear. For example, during a Swedish massage the client is asked to strip completely since it is a full body procedure. However, some clients may not be comfortable with baring it all and should know it is fine for them to request they keep one or two articles of clothing on such as their underwear. If a client chooses to bare it all, an experienced therapist will know how to drape fabric over their bodies in order to not overexpose them. Before a massage begins, the therapist usually will instruct the client on its aspects including the amount of clothing usually discarded. Once this discussion is over, the masseuse leaves the room to allow the client to undress privately and get under a sheet or towel on the massage table. The therapist will only uncover the areas of the body that are being massaged to ensure their client’s comfort.

2.Touching: There are several reasons as to why individuals may get a massage. For instance, a massage can be sought to alleviate stress, improve relaxation, enhance circulation, etc. The client should understand that they are able to set rules and regulations regarding their body and it is the therapist’s obligation to respect those boundaries. Although therapeutic massages are sensual they are not intended to be sexual. If a client, whether male or female, makes an overtly sexual or unsettling request, the therapist is obligated to forcefully but professionally identify how inappropriate the request is. On the other hand, a therapist should never assume the parts of the client’s body that can be touched. Lastly, it is never appropriate to touch the genitals of a client during a massage. This is a betrayal of trust, is unethical and can bring about legal action.

There are several regulations regarding massage which can be sourced from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork within their policy for Standards of Practice.

I write for TIR Massage Stone about obtaining a proper hot stone massage kit and performing hot stone massage therapy.