Where do massage therapists get massage?
I am frequently asked that question. When I need massage for a specific issue, I have several colleagues that I turn to for their expertise. If I want a spa day, I have my favorite place where I can relax in bliss for hours. Every once in a while I will “sacrifice” myself for the future of massage therapy by booking a massage at the local massage school.
My Personal Massage Clinic Experience
At the end of my basic massage education I had to perform 30 hours of supervised massage in the student clinic. It was a wonderful opportunity to develop my practical massage skills. I also practiced skills I would use in a professional setting such as conducting client interviews, adhering to a schedule and pacing myself. Members of the general public could receive an inexpensive massage. After which, they would complete an evaluation form. The evaluation form was intended to provide constructive feedback for the student. Typically, the feedback we received was not at all constructive for students trying to develop their skills. I specifically remember one evaluation which read:
What did you like most about your massage? Everything
What did you like least about your massage? That it ended…
It wasn’t until I had to massage one of the instructors that I learned the value of truly constructive criticism. I was so nervous afterward because I saw that she wrote on the front AND back of the form, as well as in the margins. I was certain she hated my massage. As it turned out, she really enjoyed it. In her feedback, she told me what specifically she liked about my pressure. The flow of the massage was good and she liked the different techniques I used. She also identified areas where I could improve. She even suggested a book that was very helpful. I decided that some day I would “Pay It Forward” by providing the next generation of massage therapists with constructive feedback.
Things to Consider
If you decide to get massage at a student clinic, here are some things to consider when providing constructive feedback;
- Be reasonable in your expectations. Remember that they are students completing their BASIC massage training. Don’t expect them to have the same skills as your regular therapist with years of experience and hundreds of hours of continuing education.
- Professionalism- Was the therapist on time, did the therapist greet you by your name and introduce themselves, was their appearance neat/clean, did they have garlic breath or smell like cigarettes or too much perfume?
- Communication- Did the therapist ask about health concerns, did they ask what you want to accomplish during the massage? Did they explain how to get on the table or check in with you during the session to assess your comfort?
- Quality of Touch– Did the therapist seem confident or timid in their techniques, did they use techniques to address your specific concerns?
- Pressure– Did the therapist ask what type of pressure you enjoy, did they provide the pressure you wanted?
- Pace– Did the therapist seem rushed, were they efficient or did they spend too much time on one spot and not enough time on another?
- Flow– Did the massage flow from one area of the body to the next, were there smooth transitions?
- Draping– Was the draping done with confidence, did you feel secure, did you feel exposed?
A student clinic can be a wonderful and affordable way to add massage to your life. But it is primarily intended to be a learning opportunity for the students. Be constructive with your criticism, for the future of massage therapy!