Jan 10, 2008

10 interview questions to ask your massage therapist

Many people try massage, but don't get the relief they're looking for. Clients make the mistake of not interviewing their massage therapist when they schedule the appointment. I think this is important for people to do. Massage is expensive and it's a shame for people to waste their time and money on someone who doesn't know, or have any interest in helping them. The biggest reason this is too bad, is because the person in pain then thinks that since they tried massage once and it didn't work, it doesn't.

1. Are you licenced? Where? Now, all therapist should be licenced at least by the National Massage Board. They don't have to have a national license, if they are licensed by the state they work in. Also, some states like New Jersey and Vermont don't have their own test. This is important, because from my experience your paying top dollar for someone who really didn't study massage.

2. Where did you go to school? If they went to a university, they will have a degree of some sort.

3. How long was your school? Good schools are two years. Less then that, chances are they aren't going to be able to help you with your pain. Unless, they are naturally gifted, worked as a nurse, or physical therapist or some other type of bodywork. Not energy work so much.

The reason I say this about energy is because, many people self teach themselves things like Reiki. Also, if you have pain, you want relief now. Energy work takes time to get things flowing. Trigger point work is the fastest way to alleviate pain associated with the muscles.

4. Do they specialize in a type of massage? There are 206 types of massage.

5. Did they get certified in it? Not all continuing ed classes have certifications or offer college credits, but knowing who certified them will add to there credibility. Ex. I was medically certified to work in the hospital, HIV/ AIDS, and geriatrics through Cheryl Chapman and Benedictine Hospital. Cheryl Chapman is highly skilled and trained and certified. People in this field around here, know her. I was certified to do hot rock by a massage therapist in her office. I'm actually embarrassed about the hot rock and don't offer it in my services because I don't want people to know who certified me in it.

Now, it's your turn. Explain why you're looking for massage. If you have a problem area tell them about it, If there is pain involved let them know.

At this point the therapist should ask you questions like:
Does the pain radiate?
Is it constant or intermittent?
Is it in one place or does the pain travel? To where?
Is it sharp and shooting or dull and achy?
When did it start, do you know how it happened?
Has it affected your range of motion?
What are you doing for self care?
Have you seen your general practitioner?

Do you have any spinal column disorders or herniated discs?
Have you had a history of Cancer?
Are you getting a cold?
Are you three months or less pregnant?

Now, they probably won't ask all these questions, but they are designed so the therapist can come up with a treatment plan.

Once these questions have been asked. If they didn't red flags should go up.

6. Ask them if they think massage can help you? If it's muscle related the answer is yes. Massage helps so many other things too that people don't associate with massage like: reducing blood pressure, aiding in healing after surgery, sciatica, arthritis, fibromyalagia etc. However, you have to realize that until the therapist actually touches the person, all of this is speculative.

7. Ask them what type of work they think you need based on the information you gave them? Ask them to explain what that means? I tell people kinda what we will do in the session. I let them know it's not a fun process, but if it is what I think it is, they will feel better when they get off the table.

8. Ask them if they have any ideas why you are experiencing these issues? I usually ask about occupations since we spend most of our time doing it. Work and travel, and the computer are the big culprits. I ask about sleeping positions, how old their pillows are, old injuries/ accidents etc..

9. Ask what the cost is and based off of the initial interview how many times a week they should come? This again is a ballpark number. You can only get an idea based on the one conversation, but until you get worked on, you can't give a accurate number.

I had a client complaining of shoulder issues. Our phone interview was short because he didn't have time for it. When he got here, he had a spinal column disorder that through his whole body off, esp. his neck and hips. One leg was longer than the other because of his compensation, he had a stroke and is deaf in one ear. The stroke compromised his posture even more. And, hearing out of the one ear, he keeps his head cocked to that side to be able to hear. My phone assessment was vastly different from the one in person.

10. What can they expect the out come to be if they follow the therapist plan? Now, it depends on what the problem is, how long you've had it and how long your booking your session for. I usually, go over the first session. I do this so people go through the pain for a reason and get that, "Oh my God, I feel wonderful!" I also do it, so they get an idea how long it takes to get the desired effect. Your problems didn't happen over night and they wont go away in one session. Even though, you feel good getting off the table, I tell people, I don't know how long it'll last. It depends on how long you've had it. Do you have to contuinue to the action that put you in this position in the first place? Some people don't have symptoms for 6 months or more. Others are back the next week.

If you hurt your back doing something you don't normally do, the issue is easier to fix.

If your neck is your problem, but you have a stressful job, spend a lot of time on the phone, traveling or on the computer, or your sleeping patterns or your posture. These things are perpetuating your problems because you repeat the action constantly. Your muscles think they're suppose to be that way, and stay contracted. Our muscles are very good at doing what we tell them to do.
These issues are ones that always need to be worked on, on a regular basis, to be kept at bay so to speak.


rene said...


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Anonymous said...

I agree with almost everything but the amount of schooling. Just because they didn't go to school for 2 years doesn't mean they're not qualified. In order to be board certified, you need 750 hours of schooling. That doesn't necessarily equate to 2 years. Only way it would take that long is if you went to a massage program at a community college, where you get all the extras like basic math and English courses. Not having taken those kinds of gen ed courses doesn't mean they can't complete a good massage.