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Criteria for how to select and choose a great massage therapist

By Jonathan Kraft, CMT

           Massage therapy spans a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, working to improve an individualís health and well-being through the hands-on manipulation of muscles and other soft tissues of the body.  Doctors are increasingly recommending it to their patients for stress relief.  Additionally, it is being used as part of treatment programs for many medical conditions, including chronic pain.  Many businesses are now seeing its potential to boost worker productivity, help morale, and decrease the number of days that employees miss work.  Public interest in complementary therapies has helped many consumers to try massage.
           It is not commonly known, but in many states, individuals with no training at all can open massage businesses, so long as they do not refer to themselves as certified or licensed, or otherwise falsely represent themselves.  So how do you find a good legitimate massage therapist?  Personal referrals from friends or healthcare providers are a great way to find a massage therapist.  You can also look one up in the Yellow Pages or online, but make sure you talk with them on the phone or via email before going for your session.
           A therapistís most important concern should be that you are pleased with your experience.  So when you go to look for a therapist, and to ensure that your expectations are met, open a line of communication between you and your potential MT.  A therapist should want to share information about their businesses and should therefore welcome any questions you may have.
           If you have never had a massage before, you could be nervous and not know what to expect. Asking questions can help you to be more relaxed which will make your first massage experience even more enjoyable.


Questions to ask a therapist

  • What certifications do you hold? 

  • Are you state and nationally certified? (NCTBMB Certification) (Since there is not yet standardization in this industry, many arenít nationally certified.  This does not necessarily mean that they are not qualified.)

  • How long have you been practicing massage?

  • Do you give discounts if I refer people who I know to you?

  • What kind of oils, creams, products, etc. do you use?

  • Do you use a drape while massaging? (ie. A sheet or other covering for the client)

  • What kind of training have you had? 

  • What types of massage will you be using?

  • What are your prices? Do you have any specials, packages, or discounts?

  • Do you sell the products you use?

  • How long will the session last?

  • What kind of payments do you accept? cash, check, credit card?

  • How can I make an appointment?

  • Do you have references?


What to Expect to Pay

Just like most service-related industries, the price of massage varies and is determined by demand, location, type of experience, and experience of the therapist.  Within a local area, the price for a massage can vary greatly. Some therapists offer shorter massages at discount prices, but to get the most out of a massage, don't try to find the best deal.

There is no set price for a massage.  The range for a one-person massage at present is between $25 and $85/hour for a therapeutic massage. The average price in Denver, Colorado seems to be about $55/hour.  The price will generally be less if the therapist has less experience.  Massage will also, on the average, be less expensive in rural areas and more expensive in larger cities.

Expect to pay more in most day spas.  The treatment you get often involves more than a massage session.  You can often get a facial, manicure, pedicure, body wrap, skin peel, etc.  Many of the massage therapists in day spas are actually employees of the spas and receive a percentage of the amount you pay to the spa.  Day spas generally start at $60 for an hour massage and go up, depending on what is included, demand, location, etc.

Many therapists offer specials. Ask about these.  Ask as many questions of your therapist as you want to be sure your expectations are met.  Some therapists will offer an introductory massage while others have discounts for buying a package of sessions. It never hurts to ask.

Legitimate massage therapists are professionals.  Many hours of training and practice allow them to offer an incredible service to you. If you are satisfied with your massage, tipping or offering a little extra will show how much you enjoyed the experience.  Also, giving positive feedback can help the therapist to reach more people and become more successful.


What you want to consider post-massage

            Following your massage, evaluate what the session felt like, how you felt after the session, etc.  Personality fit is important when choosing a massage therapist, as is trust.  You should feel confident in and comfortable with the massage therapist.  Massage therapists use a variety of techniques, so you may need to try a few different practitioners to find one that fits your needs.


Below are a couple of great sites for finding massage professionals and bodywork resources.



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