To Stay or Not to Stay…

With one Massage Therapist…that is to say…to stick with one massage therapist and not bounce around town “therapist hopping”…is the question of the day.

This question came to mind as I’m thinking about the reasons why I do or don’t stick with one therapist.  The answer is a complicated one.

Over the past 19 years since I wandered down the windy path to massage therapy, I had to shop around while I’m in-town and out-of-town for a massage therapist who has the “right” skills and does just the “thing” that alleviates my pain on any particular day.  Here are some characteristics I look for from my “favorite” therapists.

  • Is a listener and not afraid to ask questions to clarify
  • Possesses a varied set of skills from many modalities
  • Appropriately uses massage techniques on the body
  • Has a curious mind and eager to learn new things
  • Suggests thoughtful solutions and explains why
  • Speaks clearly and uses correct English grammar
  • Has a good sense of humor
  • Enjoys a good joke and occasionally tells a tasteful one
  • Is never inappropriate, vulgar, or confrontational
  • Observes draping and personal boundaries in treatment room
  • Very polite and has professional appearance
  • Honest about his/her level of skills/training
  • Shares knowledge and willing to teach me something new
  • Has a good understanding of anatomy and physiology
  • Respects my time but flexible enough for add-ons
  • Has an impeccable reputation and lives up to it every session
  • Is very intuitive and gets on the same wavelength with me quickly

If I find a male or female massage therapist (or esthetician) who possesses most of these characteristics, I tend to stick to them like a bee to honey.  You see, I believe in my ability to “train” (i.e., make a request and give feedback) a therapist, who already has a good foundation in knowledge and experience, to do what I need her or him to do.  Over time, sticking with one therapist (or maybe two) who knows my body and medical history is a tremendously rewarding experience and saves a lot of time.  I don’t have to rehash the laundry list of issues each time I see him or her.

With that said, I am at heart an experimenter and like to explore new territory and sample the bodywork flora and fauna when I travel to a new city for work or pleasure.  The local spa tends to be my first stop (after checking into my hotel).  If I travel to the same place week after week, chances are I’ll find one or two “favorite” therapists that I would see on a weekly basis.

Regardless if I am on travel or not, once in a while, I will seek out new hands to work on me, just to see if a new person can show me a novel technique to work out a stubborn knot or a cool way to stretch chronically tight areas.  This is what works for me as a client (who is also a therapist).  I imagine this is how other massage enthusiasts behave also.  In the end, if I have to go seek out a new therapist and forever leave the old one behind, it’s OK because that’s the way life is…it changes constantly…my needs change constantly…so I move on.

Namaste (oh yes, I AM a former yoga addict)

Q & A

Question 1:  What services are included in Spa Party Services and how are they priced?


  • Flash facials (20-30 mins/person) – cleanse, exfoliate, mask, moisturize, protect
  • Brow Waxing (5-10 mins/person) – clean, shape-up with waxing and tweezers
  • Short Massages (5-15 mins/person) – feet, hands, shoulder, scalp, back
  • Long Massages (45-60 mins/person) – for small groups
  • Chair Massages (10-15 mins/person) – for office/employee events, dinner/birthday parties, bridal showers

If you want just chair massage, pay the hourly rate for Chair Massages.

If you want to include non-chair massage services in your party menu, pay the hourly rate for Spa Party Services, then pick the services you want to customize the menu to your list of attendees.

However you want to structure your spa party, make sure you have good estimate on the number of attendees and the services they want so you will know how many hours and which type of service to book.  For more information, please click Bodywork & Waxing.

Question 2:  What do I need to consider before getting a facial or body peel?

Answer: Clients wanting facial or body peels must consider coming to our spa for a detailed skin consultation to determine if they are eligible for peels.  In a 30-minute session,  we will discuss with you your skin concerns, review your medical and beauty treatment history and possibly administer a patch test to make sure you can handle chemical peels.  Peels can be very effective to deal with certain skin conditions but they are not for everyone. Only through a skin analysis can we know the most appropriate treatments for your skin type and condition.  Oftentimes, peel alternatives may be a better route.  For more information, please click Facials & Peels.

Question 3:  Why are there so many bodywork modalities and how do I know which one is right for me?

Answer: Clients, especially those who have traveled widely both domestically and internationally and have experienced many types of massages, ask if we are trained to perform certain techniques so we list them on our bodywork menu.  However, in reality, a massage session is customized towards the needs of a particular client.  We put a price on a bodywork modality as a guideline based on how much extra effort (beyond what’s needed to do a relaxation massage) and additional training (beyond a typical massage school curriculum) required of the therapist.  You will be charged for the modality used predominantly in your session.  For example, if all you have is the usual stress and tension in your body and no injuries or medical conditions and you asked for a Swedish or perhaps a deep tissue massage, you won’t be charged for a massage you did not get such as a medical massage or lymphatic drainage massage.  You are paired with a therapist qualified to give you the massage most appropriate for your needs.  By providing the most updated information about your bodily conditions when you schedule your appointment and on your intake form and communicating to your therapist before, during and after your session are key to having a successful and satisfying experience at our spa.  For a description of each modality please click services menus: Bodywork & Waxing.

Question 4: Can I sit with my child during a service?

Answer: Of course.  We ask the parent or guardian to sign a consent form for a minor receiving service at our spa or at the client location.  The parent/guardian may stay in the same room while we perform the service on the minor.

Question 5: What do I do if I feel sick after a massage or facial?

Answer: Communicating with your service provider prior to getting a service is key to determine if you are well enough to receive the service.  It is critical to understand factors or medical conditions that rule out massage for you.  When in doubt, please review Massage Contraindications in the Blog section of this website.  You can also find it by typing “massage contraindications” in the Search box.

Even with a thorough pre-service consultation and precautionary measure during the service was taken, you may still develop a reaction to a chemical ingredient or massage movement that you may not have known before.  Therefore, communicating with your service provider during the service is also key to minimizing adverse reactions to the service.

If you still feel ill after a service and you have left our spa, depending on how severe your condition is, contact the spa and ask for advice (for a mild reaction such a rash) or in the case of severe reaction, seek immediate care from a qualified medical professional at a qualified medical facility.

It is important to remember that any service is provided to you with your expressed permission through your signed consent form.  It is your responsibility to communicate to your service provider your preferences or tolerance for the amount of pressure or certain movements during a massage/bodywork or ingredients during a chemical treatment whether it is a facial, peel or hair service (removal/waxing/shaving or styling).

Question 6:  How much clothing do I have to take off for a massage or facial?

Answer: As much or as little as you’re comfortable with and still allowing your service provider to administer the service to the body area.  This being said, we observe draping standards defined by our profession whether it is hair care, skin care or bodywork.  For example, getting a massage while uncovered is not acceptable at our spa or at the client location.  We uncover only the body part being worked.  For more information on draping requirements, please browse various sources listed in the Useful Links blog posting.

Question 7: What’s the difference between an LMT and RMP?

Answer: In Maryland, massage therapy falls under regulation by the The Board of Massage Therapy Examiners.  There are two levels of credentials: Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT) and Registered Massage Practitioner (RMP).  An individual who is licensed (LMT designation) is required to have 60 hours of college credits and 600 hours of massage school credits.  LMTs may practice in a medical health care provider’s office, hospital, or other health care facility for the purpose of providing massage.  An individual who is registered [RMP] is required to have 600 hours of massage school credits.  RMPs may practice in non-therapeutic massage settings such as private businesses, health clubs and spas.  RMPs MAY NOT practice in a medical health care provider’s office, hospital, or other health care facility for the purpose of providing massage.   Both designations require proof of passing one of these exams: NCBTMB, MBLEX; and the Maryland massage therapy jurisprudence examination.   Click here for more info.

Useful Links

American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA):

AMTA Page on massage therapy for health conditions.

AMTA Page 25 Reasons to Get a Massage

National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB):

Myofascial Release Article on Wikipedia:

Touch Research Institute:

Rolfing/Structural Integration:

Associated Skin Care Professionals (ASCP):

Massage History Timeline:

Massage Warehouse:

Bodywork Mall:

WebMD Article on Massage Style and Health BenefitsClick here

What is Draping?  Click here.

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) Article on Benefits of Massage:

Simplified/Short list of Massage Contraindication:

State of Maryland Massage Board Website:


Here’s a decent list of references for massage therapy:


Massage Magazines/Journals:

*** Massage Magazine:

*** Massage and Bodywork Magazine:

*** Massage Therapy Journal:

*** Massage Therapy Canada:

*** International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork:



YouTube videos on “What To Expect in a Massage Session”:


Massage Contraindications

Massage therapy appears to have few serious risks — if it is performed by a properly trained therapist and if appropriate cautions are followed. The number of serious injuries reported is very small. Side effects of massage therapy may include temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling and a sensitivity or allergy to massage oils.  The following are some common conditions that may be generally or locally contraindicated for massage.  Below the list of general and local contraindications are the areas of caution.  Please read carefully.  When in doubt, consult your primary care physician when considering the use of massage therapy.


General Contraindications – massage not performed on person at all. Local Contraindications – massage not performed on areas having the condition
o    systemic contagious or infectious diseases, including the common cold

o    acute conditions requiring first aid or medical attention

o    severe unstable hypertension

o    significant fever.


o    Acute flare-up of inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis

o    Deep vein thrombosis

o    aneurism

o    frostbite

o    local contagious or irritable skin conditions

o    open sores or wounds

o    recent surgery

o    recent burn

o    varicosities

o    malignancy


Cautions about massage therapy include the following:

  • Vigorous massage should be avoided by people with bleeding disorders, low blood platelet counts and by people taking blood-thinning medications such as Warfarin.
  • Massage should not be done in any area of the body with blood clots, fractures, open or healing wounds, skin infections, weakened bones (such as from osteoporosis or cancer) or where there has been a recent surgery.
  • Although massage therapy appears to be generally safe for cancer patients, they should consult their oncologist before having a massage that involves deep or intense pressure. Any direct pressure over a tumor usually is discouraged. Cancer patients should discuss any concerns about massage therapy with their oncologist.
  • Pregnant women should wait until their 2nd trimester before considering prenatal massage therapy.  They should consult their health care provider before using massage therapy.


Note: Massage therapy does not constitute medical treatment and is not a substitute for a medical examination or diagnosis. If you are dealing with a serious health condition check with your health care provider before seeking massage therapy and make sure you inform your massage practitioner of any health conditions that may affect the work.