As massage therapy students and practitioners, we have a privileged understanding of our practice. We know the many benefits of massage therapy, and we have months or years of hands-on learning to aid our understanding of what exactly it means to give and receive a massage.
New clients and members of the general public are not so lucky. They are exposed to the many myths and misunderstandings that circulate about massage therapy and us, their therapists. These myths often limit the scope of clients who feel massage is “suited” to them, and discourages others who are too uncomfortable or nervous to pursue massage therapy treatments.
It can be difficult to professionally and tactfully address myths about RMTs. Here are a few common misconceptions and tips for how we can actively work to dispel them in our everyday practices.
1. Terms and titles for a massage practitioner can be used interchangeably.
The simplest way to clear up this misconception with clients is to share the scope of your education and certification process with them. Let them know that massage therapists undergo extensive training in technique, anatomy, ethics and standards of practice. Display or mention your certification proudly. You can also help share knowledge of the distinction by emphasizing the word “therapist.” Therapists have a shared objective to produce targeted and measurable outcomes. Speaking to your credentials and goals as a practitioner can help educate those around you. And, it goes without saying- always be sure to encourage the correct use of the title “Registered Massage Therapist” versus “masseur.”
2. Massage therapists have only a cursory understanding of the human body.
An easy and tactful way to communicate your knowledge of physiology and anatomy is to speak to your client as an intelligent and interested party, rather than approaching treatments as any other customer service transaction. You don’t want to overwhelm clients with jargon when they’re relaxing and receiving treatment, but you can still make a point of incorporating language related to your field in client dialogues. After the massage is over, mention a few muscle groups that you targeted, or describe a technique that proved particularly effective.
3. Being treated by a petite or slim massage therapist isn’t worth my time and money.
A good massage therapist knows how to use their weight to give an effective massage. In most cases it’s impossible to judge the efficacy of a massage by simply sizing up the practitioner. How can you convey this tactfully to clients? Explain that massage is meant to relax the muscles- this can be done with varying degrees of pressure and trigger point targeting. You might also mention how different parts of the body can be used to administer a massage –strength comes from the forearms and entire upper body, rather than just the hands.
What would you add to this list? Have you had to do any myth-dispelling since starting your career in massage therapy?