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Tips for Choosing a Massage Therapist

Licensed or certified massage therapists are well-trained health care professionals. They use massage to treat the soft tissues of the body to ease pain. Massage has also been shown to help ease anxiety, tension, and stress.  

There are many types of massage therapy. Some types are firm and deep, while other styles are very light and gentle. A massage therapist may use more than one kind of massage, depending on your needs.  

Therapeutic massage should not be confused with the type of massage typically done in a spa setting. Spa-based massage is often for relaxation only. Therapeutic massage, on the other hand, is most often done in a clinical setting and is geared more towards treating pain.  

Choosing a practitioner 

Choosing a practitioner begins your road to recovery. Try asking your health care provider for names of massage therapists they can suggest. Or talk to your family and friends. They may know a massage therapist who offers high quality care. 

Do your research 

Look for someone who: 

  • Is licensed in your state 
  • Has treated conditions like yours 
  • Treats you with respect 
  • Listens to your health concerns 
  • Answers your questions 
  • Wants to help you improve your health 

Find the right practitioner for you

Your practitioner should ask you several in-depth questions about your symptoms and your health history. They will ask you questions about your pain, such as how much it hurts, where it is, and how long you have had it. 

You may also need to let them know how the pain affects your daily living and the activities you like to do. Then they will examine the areas of pain.   

Your therapist should then work with you to set up treatment goals and a plan for reaching them. This plan should:  

  • Offer a schedule of visits that works with your needs  
  • Measure progress at each visit 
  • Make changes to your treatment plan as needed 
  • Send you back to your doctor as needed

The office staff 

If the massage therapist has office staff, you will want the staff to treat you well. Here are a few things to ask yourself: 

  • When you call, are they helpful and professional? Do they answer all your questions?  
  • Do they help you with setting future sessions? 
  • Will you be comfortable working with the staff? 

Try a few different massage therapists before choosing

You may also want to schedule an initial “trial” session with a few different therapists before you decide on the one you want to work with. 

Pay attention during each “trial” session. Does each therapist have a gentle yet firm touch? Do they ask you how the depth of each stroke is feeling and whether you would like more or less pressure? Do they invite you to let them know at any point during your session if anything feels uncomfortable or painful?  

Your therapist should check in with you regularly and be responsive to your feedback and guidance during your session. They should adapt the massage technique they are using based on your input and needs. 

Choosing a massage therapist is a big step on the road to healing. So take your time making a choice.  

View Credits
Primary Author: Amanda Cavallari, MA
Clinical Reviewer: Justine Greene, MD, MSTOM
Final Review and Approval by Justine Greene, MD, MSTOM
--> Date of Annual Review:06/23/2023
Healthyroads' Editorial Staff follow a quality assurance process to help promote each article’s accuracy:
  • A health expert provides input on topic.
  • Scientific evidence from widely accepted health texts, peer-reviewed journals, and other reliable sources is consulted.
  • Final article is reviewed and approved by a health professional.
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