How to find your massage therapist

There are many massage therapists to choose from. According to Department of Labor Statistics, “Massage therapists held about 122,400 jobs in 2008.” This does not include independent therapists who work for themselves. It is great that we have so many because there is no way one therapist can make everyone happy.

Because massage is very touchy feely, a good massage therapist must have a good energy fit with you besides good massage skills. Length of the profession can be a good indicator but it’s not always reliable. I have received great massage from a brand new therapist and horrible massage from a 10-year veteran.

So how do you find a good therapist? Before you start looking, it is important to know what you want want to get out of your massage session. Do you want therapeutic massage or relaxation massage? Do you want a specific modality? Do you like chatty therapist or a quiet therapist? Here are some ways to find YOUR massage therapist.

1.       Referrals

This is the best way to find your massage therapist (or any service provider) in my opinion. Ask people you can trust and have similar energy as you if they know of a good massage therapist that they can recommend. Recommendation gives an instant credibility and half the screening is done. Make sure to interview the therapist so you are clear about what you are getting. Is 60-minutes hands-on time or does it include setup time? Does the therapist bring table, sheets, and music? Is there a discount if you have your own table? Is there extra charge for driving distance or going upstairs? Can the therapist work with pets and kids around? Are there any discounts?

2.       Location based

Do you have a favorite spa or facilities where you want to get your massage? Usually there are multiple massage therapists available unless it’s operated solely by the owner. Ask for recommendations when you book an appointment. Then try a different massage therapist every time you visit until you find the one you like. This is not so easy if the spa is big. For example, there are about 50 massage therapists at the high end spa that I work for. Even if you visit every week it takes about a year to experience all the therapists at the spa.

3.       Internet

Using the search engines like Google it’s very easy to find one in your area. I would look for testimonials online if available. There are many  associations and certifications based on specific modalities that massage therapists can be a member of. Here are some of the major organizations you can use to search and check the validity of the massage therapists:

Two major liability insurance providers with large member directory:

American Massage Therapy Associations (AMTA)

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP)

500 hours required to take this tough National Exam.

National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB)

California State License (If outside of California please check if your state has licensing program):

California Massage Therapy Council

Note: Until September 2009,  each city in the state of California was regulating massage therapists completely independently requiring hundreds of dollars and instructional hours. Thanks to our Governator, California now has a voluntary state licensing program. As a result cities lost the revenue source and some cities are still fighting it.

If you find a good massage therapist, don’t forget to ask for business cards so you can recommend to your friends and families.

Massage Therapy Associations (AMTA)

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP)

(These Liability Insurance providers have large member directory.)