This is one of the most common questions I hear from customers. It’s an important question and the response needs to be considered carefully because the answer will set the character and tone of all future interactions with that customer. I am going to offer a response that I have found creates the healthiest relationships with my customers.
The real question
Any question containing the words “should I” is always directed toward someone the inquisitor thinks is an “expert,” that is to say, someone more qualified then himself or herself to offer an answer. And, while some of my egocentric, “Dear Abby” parts just love it when people ask my advice and treat me as an expert, the truth is, in this case I am not.
I actually feel totally unqualified to tell someone else what his or her needs are in the way of massage or touch.
Perhaps I would feel differently if I were a massage “therapist” treating a particular problem or condition and could guarantee that a fixed number of sessions would result in the problem being resolved. But I am not a therapist. I am a simple massage practitioner providing structured touch to people who are seated in a chair or laying on a table and want to feel better.
From that perspective there is only one, quite definitive way to respond to the question, “How often should I get a massage?” and that is by asking for more information.
“If time and money weren’t considerations,” I query the customer, “how often would you like to feel this way?”
While this reply often engenders momentary confusion, the reply, often accompanied by a little laugh, is most often something along the lines of, “Why, every day, of course.”
Thus, the customer arrives at the best answer to their original, literal question, but we are not quite done yet. We still have to find the answer to the underlying question that they were also asking. “So now we know how often you should get a massage.” I say. “Now factor in time and money and you can figure out how often you can get a massage.”
Don’t miss the moment
Since skilled touch practitioners are primarily educators, let’s not miss this significant “teachable moment.” By not answering their question directly, we teach people some important lessons:
- They are the ones in charge of their bodies, not some perceived expert.
- For better or for worse, they are in charge of the feelings inside their bodies.
- They can change how they feel for the better at any time utilizing a simple tool called “massage.”
Realizing that, to a great extent, how one feels physically and mentally is a choice can be transformative. The pace of change in the external world is so fast that literally no one can keep up with the flow of information and innovation that surrounds us leaving most of us feeling powerless and out of control.
But, what we do have control over is our internal, subjective world. Massage is an effective tool for managing our inner experience in a way that almost always effects our external world for the better. Structured touch reduces stress, induces the relaxation response and allows us access to states of awareness that enhance our coping, caring and problem-solving abilities.
Don’t tell your customers how much massage they need. Let them tell you and you will probably end up with more frequent visits from people who understand the true, personal value of massage.
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That’s a clever and considered response that benefits both parties. Thanks for the insight.
As the author writes, “Perhaps I would feel differently if I were a massage “therapist” treating a particular problem or condition and could guarantee that a fixed number of sessions would result in the problem being resolved. But I am not a therapist. I am a simple massage practitioner.” A Therapist is a person specializing in therapy ; especially: one trained in methods of treatment and rehabilitation other than the use of drugs or surgery. A Therapist does not make guarantees. A Speech Therapist, a Cognitive Therapist, a Behavorior Therapist: Therapists do not guarantee specific outcomes that will “fix”, “heal”, etc. We ARE Massage Therapatists that practice massage therapy – period. So what why are you not a Therapist?
Great question, Tammy. The short answer is because I do neither treatment or rehabilitation. I just do touch.
For the story about how “massage” became “massage therapy” check out this post. Stay tuned to for the next installment of that article (due next week) where I discuss how turning massage into massage therapy has actually inhibited public access to skilled touch.
I totally agree with this, but only when it comes to massage for pure relaxation.
I do think it is important for the therapist (who hopefully is more of an expert than the client when it comes to wellness knowledge) to advise their clients as to what would be the best course of action for them, based on their goals, etc.
That being said, when I get this Q, I simply tell them what I think would be best, based on my clinical expertise.
Then I ask them in return similar to your Q, “If time and money weren’t an issue, how often would you want to come in?” and then I compare it to exercise… “if you exercised once a month, that’s better than not at all, but as you know, a couple of times a month, once a week all the way to 3-5 times a week is optimal…so let’s come up with a plan that works for your schedule, your finances and your needs.”
This helps them feel they are honoring their situation and still allows you to advise them.
Good post. Happy Holidays!
Hi there – I’m constantly searching for good blogs and sites in relation to massage therapy and wellness in general. The chiropractor I see locally here uses a method called Active Release Technique and he has really helped especially when I include that with massage therapy. It’s hard to find an effective clinic – how would you evaluate who’s good and who isn’t? Other than patient reviews and such – would be nice to get a checklist or something like that to save lots of time with poor practitioners. Thanks for your time.
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