As professional massage therapists, we meet a lot of different people. If you’re interested in working as a massage therapist, or if you’ve recently been educated and certified in massage therapy, you’ll find that working with people is a vital part of running a good business. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that people skills have a direct impact on your ability to do well in your practice, whether you’re working solo or part of a team.
1. Too much pressure or not enough
This is the complaint massage therapists hear most often, but there are also a surprising number of cases in which they don’t actually hear about it (even though the complaint exists). People are sometimes reticent to talk directly to the therapist about pressure that’s too firm or not firm enough. Instead, they’ll complain to others after the fact, and/or take their business elsewhere. Actively seeking feedback on the pressure is a good way to do this, since patients are more likely to answer honestly when prompted. The other thing to point out is good, honest training. When you’ve been through a quality massage therapy program with abundant hours of classroom instruction and hands-on practice, your ability to find the right pressure for different patients and different needs is much greater.
2. Smoke, perfume and other odors
Because massage is such a personal experience, with a great deal of physical closeness between therapist and patient, it’s important to pay close attention to odors or fragrances that might cling to clothing or linger in the treatment room. If you’re a smoker (and we hope you aren’t), this can cause a fair bit of discomfort to your patients, and take away from the sense of professionalism. Perfumes and other strong odors should also be avoided. In general massage therapy should only involve natural and unobtrusive fragrances, such as natural essential oils.
3. Lack of focus
This is often a “nebulous” complaint that manifests itself in other ways, including insufficient pressure, or taking time out of the client’s treatment to answer a phone call or use the restroom. Clients are going to think more highly of you and your practice when you stay focus and present throughout the entire duration of the treatment. Being able to do this — especially if you have a full day of treatments to get through — can be challenging. It takes a professional attitude and a good deal of endurance. Legitimate massage therapy schools will address this and many other practical issues involved in being a top-level massage therapist.
Getting to the next level
Massage therapy can be a tough trade — but it’s also one of the most rewarding out there. Being consistent and successful as a practitioner of massage therapy takes practice, patience, and a careful study of common mistakes. If you’re thinking of enrolling in a massage therapy certification program, make sure it’s one that covers all aspects of the business, and gives you the technical as well as the practical skills you need to thrive in the long term.