Getting Massage – Where to begin?

Shalene Zarate - Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Confessions of a Massage Therapist: by Shalene Zarate, NMT, CST

People don't always realize that there are so many important elements to consider before deciding where to get a massage. 

One would hope that finding a massage therapist that meets your needs is as simple as looking up a place close to home and work. Or being referred by a trusted resource, knowing someone who happens to be one, coming across someone's card or website, or some other easy connection.

I've actually found that it's a little more complicated than that finding a really GOOD therapist. One that you want to get to know you and your body. Who plans on sticking around, make a career of it. Because lets be honest here, massage therapist have a high turn over rate. 

These questions are often overlooked. But if asked, might narrow down your choices and help you find someone you like and trust faster. 

• Where should I go? Do I go to a spa or to chiropractors office? To my friend who does it? To the person my friends goes to? The person whose card I found hanging on the community board?

• How do I make sure I'm choosing an office I feel comfortable in and find a therapist I trust, who also provides the type of work I need? This takes deeper thought and consideration.

• Are their questions I should be asking the therapist? Is this person qualified? What kind of work does she/he do? 

• Is their facility convenient to home or work? Is it a nice place? Is it a sanitary place? Will I be able to relax?

• Am I comfortable sharing with this person my pains, health history, likes/dislikes, goals, and such to this person? 

• Is this person someone I feel comfortable touching me? Are they knowledgeable, skilled, experienced, and trustworthy? Do they hold healthy boundaries?

• Am I cool letting this person know about my life lessons, and struggles, and things I am embarrassed by?

• What if I do something embarrassing during my massage? Is this person someone I can be comfortable around?

• What's the difference between a spa massage vs. a therapeutic massage? What are these special modalities people have on their service descriptions? What is Cranio-Sacral Therapy or Lymphatic Massage? Do I need that too? 

Essentially, this will need to be someone you trust and feel safe with. 

Here is a little guide to help you find a better fit faster by applying the questions - What, Where, Who and Why?


• What kind of massage do you need and want? Deep, light, relaxing, invigorating, therapeutic, general, specific, specialized, fluff and buff, spiritual-energy based, professional? 

• What are your ultimate goals? Relaxation, pain relief, stress reduction?

• Do your needs require specialized treatment, such as for TMJ dysfunction, lymphatic blockage, trauma, whiplash, sports injury, etc?

The answers will determine where you begin in your search.


What kind of environment are you looking for?

A few options include:

2. Medical Offices 
3. Mobile Massage/In-home
4. Kiosks
5. Private Practices

Click Here for an overview of the Pros and Cons of each to help you decide which environment will best suite your needs/wants.


How does one select a new therapist?

In some settings, you will not get to choose who you work with, rather you will get who is on duty. Unless you specify otherwise and/or book ahead of time. In the instances when you do get to select your therapist, here are a couple tips to help you narrow your search. Finding a good match, is essential. 

• Be sure to have your goals, needs, and preferences in mind 
• Ask a friend or trusted source (such as your acupuncturist or chiropractor) if they know someone they would highly recommend
• Read business reviews and testimonials for the therapists you find online
• Interview a couple therapists to see if they provide the style of massage you are seeking and to see if you have a good personality match

Questions you can ask:

1. What styles of massage do you provide?
2. How long have you been practicing massage?
3. Are you licensed?
4. Do you have any advanced or specialized training?
5. How do you come up with your treatment plans?
6. Who do you typically work with, or who is their ideal client?
7. How do they ensure their clients wants/needs are met?

Listen to your gut.
Do they seem knowledgeable and professional?
Do you agree with their approach? 
Are they good listeners?

Pro Tip: If they say they can "fix" you, keep searching. A wise therapist knows their role in the process.

Finding a good match, is priceless. If you are new to massage, here are a few further considerations:
8 Tips for Achieving Better Results with Massage


Why are you seeking massage? What are the results you want to achieve?
How do you want to feel before, during, and after?

This brings us full circle. You will want to start with this in mind.

Massage is a time and financial investment in your health. Asking these questions may help you partner with a therapist who will help you achieve your bodywork goals, and will make a world of difference in your overall experience.

There are great benefits to seeing one or two therapists for consistent care. rather than going to someone new every time. 

At Embodiwork Studio, we are a private practice that blends the best of all of them.

We designed our office with the beauty and elements of a spa, but with the aim of making it cozy and comfortable like a home. Our office evokes calm and tranquility. The dim lights, white noise, earthly scents, soothing colors, and simplicity, will allow you to unplug for time to rejuvenate.

Optimum results with somatic therapies (bodywork) are achieved by creating collaborative partnerships. Building a relationship that feels safe, supportive, and allows for open communication is of great importance to us, because it allows us to tailor our techniques, for greatest effectiveness and enjoyment.

We always devise customized treatment plans that address each client’s specific therapeutic needs and preferences, implementing whichever techniques best meet the needs of our clients. We never ever follow routines or take a one-size fits all approach.

In the instance that a person cannot travel to our office, we provide in home treatment on a case by case basis.

You can certainly come for a quick fix. We do offer shorter sessions.

More importantly, we spend quality time getting to know our clients. You are never just a number to us. We get to know your bodies, personal stories, health conditions, and what you respond well to. Our training allows us to integrate various techniques for optimized improvement. 

We hope this guide helps you find the best fit possible by asking the right questions and starting with the end in mind.

May you embody health and wholeness.