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)

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