AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health


Congratulations!

Part of your New Year’s Resolution in maintaining health and wellness is adding massage therapy to your regime! Great choice considering all the benefits we’ve already covered. Now comes the tricky part. Finding a reputable licensed massage therapist can become as daunting as finding a dentist or a pediatrician for your child! So what are the first steps?

I’ve broken down a plan in finding the perfect massage therapist just for you in 5 simple steps. The first is all about you.

Step 1: What do you want/expect from your massage therapist?

Remember, you are the consumer. It is best to sit down and start thinking about your needs first. Are you more comfortable with a male or female therapist? Or does it even matter? Do you want a clinical environment or more of a spa atmosphere? Are you seeking out massage therapy for stress management and relaxation? Or something more specific – like pain management and rehabilitation from wear and tear. Do you prefer day appointments or evening and weekend only? Do you want a treatment plan? What does your budget allow – how many sessions can you afford a month? Whatever it may be – it is good to figure out what your needs are before calling around to make an appointment.

Step 2: Be familiar with the many different massage and bodywork modalities.

Trigger Point Therapy, Reflexology, Reiki, Rolfing, Myofascial Release, Neuromuscular, Zero Balancing – the list goes on and on. Most experienced massage therapists have an integrative approach to offer. Massage schools, such as the one I taught at in Tucson, Arizona, always start with a base of Swedish Massage. The curriculum usually includes a sampling of many different types of modalities so the student may decide what they want to pursue and specialize in after graduation. Some students gravitate towards energy work. Others connect with sports massage. Most like to have a few different techniques to balance out the complexity and uniqueness of each client they meet. If there is a specific modality that has been recommended to you or maybe you heard about it in the media – write it down and begin there. Keep in mind, some of these modalities such as Rolfing and Reflexology require additional training and schooling in order for a massage therapist to practice with enough knowledge and expertise to deliver. Do your homework of what you feel most comfortable with and make sure the therapist you’ve chosen has had adequate training in order to provide that modality to its maximum benefit.

Step 3: Find out how your particular state regulates massage therapy.

It may be a license, a certificate, National Certification – all of the above – whatever it may be find out. This is important because many states actually have a website that will list Massage Therapists by name that are still active. Your massage therapist is also required to have their license or certificate presented in the treatment room or on them. For example, here in Texas, licensed massage therapists are governed by the Texas Department of State Health Services. I have my license framed in my treatment room and my pocket copy in my wallet at all times. It is important to know who is responsible for licensing your state massage therapists as they will have on file all disciplinary action filed and who is active and inactive.

Step 4: What are all those letters after everyone’s name?

Here in Texas, I am considered a Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT). It is important to learn how your state regulates, whether it be licensure or certification, so you can see if who you hire as your therapist is legitimate. There are also several affiliations your therapist may belong to that require him or her to maintain additional continuing education and ethical working standards. Affiliations such as National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB), American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), and Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) are a few examples in which your therapist may have chosen to participate with and maintain for a professional massage practice.

Step 5: Things to remember as a consumer of massage therapy.

Some of these things may seem obvious, but I’ve heard so many horror stories from clients who had run into massage therapists that practice by ego, I feel it necessary to include. Here are some things to consider, especially if you are new to massage therapy. You have the right to disrobe to your comfort level. You have the right to terminate a session in process. You have the right to request specific body areas not to be included in treatment. You have the right to request lighter pressure during treatment. You have the right to change your treatment plan during session. You have the right to privacy disrobing and getting dressed after session. Massage Therapists may suggest what they feel is best for your needs, however, it is your right to make the final decision.

From the perspective of a massage therapist, it is also important for a consumer to understand our limitations and rights. We have the right to refuse a client because of a medical contraindication with massage. We cannot diagnose – we are not doctors. We are not nutritionists. We are not counselors. We do not perform spinal adjustments – we are not chiropractors. These types of services are nice adjuncts with massage therapy; however, it is

important to remember massage therapy is not a cure all. I will often say endearingly to clients, “I never want you completely dependent upon me for your health and wellbeing!” When used in conjunction with other preventative wellness practices, massage has been proven to be very beneficial for a person’s lifetime of good health and wellbeing.

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