December 2017

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Massage Environment

Welcome to my first blog post. I hope you will become a regular reader as I work to make people more aware of the benefits of incorporating regular massage therapy in their health and wellness programs.

My first topic is going to be particularly timely: the importance of creating a safe and comfortable massage environment for clients. Anyone who follows the media has probably heard about the many women coming forward with complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sadly, the massage profession has also had its own sex scandal recently, as a major massage chain has received over 180 complaints of unwanted advances and other behaviors (you can read more
here). There are reports that at least 3 of these incidents occurred right here in Colorado (see the article in the Denver Post).

After massage therapists get over their shock and disgust over the lack of respect some of our fellow practitioners have for our profession, it's natural for us to consider how this news might affect our clients, and what steps we can take to make sure their comfort and safety is always protected.

First, it is important to understand how this can happen. It is not surprising to me that these incidents occurred at a franchised chain of massage therapy studios. Although I'm sure many highly-principled therapists work for franchised studios, there are also widespread employee complaints regarding low pay and other disrespectful treatment at these establishments, which leads to rapid turnover of the therapists they employ. These working conditions do not create the proper incentives for employees to uphold the reputation of the business.

Additionally, when massage chains grow large enough to reach national status, it's a safe bet that the business is not run by therapists, which leads to profits being emphasized over client satisfaction. For example, the executives of the largest national chain have previous experience in industries such as retail (RadioShack), restaurants (Pizza Hut, ColdStone Creamery) and entertainment (Disney). But not one of their executives has career experience in massage therapy!

On the other hand, independent licensed massage therapists must prioritize client satisfaction above all else. Our business would quickly vanish if even a small number of clients were dissatisfied with our service or professionalism. The independent therapist has a more incentive to carefully manage his/her reputation, which is accomplished by focusing on each client's individual needs (pain relief, stress relief, recovery from injury, etc.) and being available, discreet, compassionate and attentive. My goal is to make long-term relationships with every client so they know that I will be 100% focused on their comfort and safety during each and every appointment.

Although potential clients might think that choosing a national chain makes it easier for them to include massage in their busy lifestyles, the recent news suggests otherwise. The time it takes to find an independent therapist whose practice is focused on your individual massage needs is well worth the effort. There are some experiences that the national franchise model just cannot recreate. Luckily, there are still a few professions where putting people over profits is the right approach, and massage therapy is definitely one of these.

I hope you enjoyed this perspective, and I hope to see you on my table soon.