Questions To Ask Massage Therapists

female massage therapist
••• Most men prefer female massage therapists. Jupiter Images/Getty Images

When you make an appointment at a spa, you're likely to get whatever therapist is available at the time you would like to have a massage.  If you make a specific request for gender (most people prefer women), that will be honored.  And if you have had someone you like before, you can always request a specific therapist.  This works well if you're booking at a local day spa. 

But when you're going to a resort spa or destination spa, most of the time it's going to be a one-time experience.

 The good news is that most top quality resort spas hire top quality therapists so you can be guaranteed a good treatment.  But what if good isn't good enough?  What if you want true excellence?

It's not as easy as asking the spa concierge, "who is your best therapist?".  For one thing, they aren't in a position to make that judgement, so they will just say, "They're all good."  You can, however, narrow it down by asking  "who is your most popular therapist"?  If it's hard to get an appointment, that is probably because the therapist has some special gifts that many people appreciate.  And you're not asking the spa concierge to make a value judgement that could get them into trouble with the therapists.  

I had some luck at a Massage Envy, which hires a lot of beginning massage therapist, by explaining that I get a lot of massage and am extremely particular.  I specifically asked for a highly experienced therapist, and got a truly wonderful treatment.

  This is not a guarantee of greatness, but at least you know that the person has several years experience under their belt.  

You can also tell the spa concierge what style of massage you like, such as very deep massage, a gentler style, or someone who is a good energy worker.   They will then try to match you up with someone who might be a good fit.

 

For all those people who always ask for a female therapist, I would encourage you to try a male therapist.  It's harder for men to get bookings, so the ones who succeed in the field tend to be very motivated.   I got booked with a man once, and it was such a terrific massage that I lost any apprehension right then and there. Men are also stronger, as a rule, which helps if you like deep work. 

What if you are looking for a regular massage therapist close to home, to go to regularly?  It's always a good idea to ask friends for recommendations.  Independent massage therapists can also be a good choice, as they usually only do that after several years experience, and can limit their hours so they don't do too many massages during the day.  Or you can use some of the above suggestions to get a therapist at a local day spa or Massage Envy, then decide if they are the right fit.  

Massage therapists have huge differences in their years of experience, education, skill, and philosophy.If you're looking for great massage therapists, particularly for ongoing massage, here are a few questions you can ask. 

Questions To Ask Massage Therapists

  • How long have you been a massage therapist?
    At least five years experience is a good foundation. There are talented beginners and burned-out vets, but you're most likely to find master massage therapists when they've had ten years experience.
  • Where did you go to school?
    Different massage schools have different approaches, such as book learning vs. practical experience, or traditional vs. alternative. Community colleges are often good. Also, most states require just 500-600 hours training, while New York and Nebraska require 1,000 hours. Find out what they say about their school. But the REAL training happens in the workplace.
  • What style of massage do you like to do?
    Some massage therapists specialize in deep tissue or sports massage, while others take a gentler approach with energy work. You can ask up front, especially when massage therapists have a private practice.
  • What other modalities are you certified in?
    Massage therapists often seek additional certification in reflexology, aromatherapy, Shiatsu, Thai Massage or other modalities. Ask about their training. Was it a weekend class in Ayurveda or a six-month program in India?
  • Where else have you worked?
    This will give you an idea of the kind of experience they have in day spas, resort spas, or destination spas.


Of course, you don't want to spend the whole massage like it's a job interview! Relax and enjoy the benefits of massage. Ultimately, the most important question is do you like the massage therapist's work? That will determine whether you want to come back.