A Guide to Your First Massage Therapy Session


The initial experience of massage therapy can be intimidating, even for those without certain issues. The nature of massage therapy can lead to incidents in which communication is not effective, thus reducing the chance that this will be a positive encounter. The client’s being educated about a session and communicating their needs with the therapist will increase the likelihood that this will be a good experience for a new client.

Often knowing what to expect in a new situation will lessen feelings of anxiety. This is certainly true for the person entering a massage session for the first time. After the initial greeting and tour, the therapist will hand the client an intake sheet. Much like what you would be given at a doctor’s office, this form requests basic contact information as well as details of your medical history. Not an attempt to pry into your background, this instead is a way for the therapist to modify their approach to your therapy. As stated in thebodyworker.com, regular Swedish massage–the type normally offered by therapists–may need to be modified in certain situations, and some illnesses will prompt your therapist to ask for a doctor’s note before proceeding. These alterations or delays are for your safety.

After filling out the information sheet, the therapist will ask you to undress to your level of comfort. Massage therapists deal with the psychological and physical issues related to touch. While they are not doctors or psychologists, they do realize that each person may not feel comfortable with certain situations. As such, they will not make you do anything that would make you feel uncomfortable during a massage session. Of course, you will not be lying naked on the table. Unlike some movie portrayals of massage therapy, therapists are trained to keep the person’s body fully covered with a sheet; they will only uncover the body part that they are currently massaging. This will allow you to be warm and comfortable during the session. Kind of like getting the best neck and shoulder massager.

Most therapists will attempt to produce a relaxed state through a combination of strokes. If you have any sensitivities, inform your therapist before the session so that they can prevent your experiencing pain. When a client tenses during a session, this does not produce a situation in which a muscle will be able to release its tension. Therapists will therefore often gradually work into a muscle to allow it to relax. On the other hand, if you enjoy deeper work, express that to your therapist. If at any time during the session you feel pain, communicate that so that the therapist can modify their pressure. While experienced massage therapists will usually be able to tell when a client is in pain or uncomfortable, this may not always be the case. They will welcome your input and certainly be willing to accommodate your needs.

Massage therapy can be more effective when there is a clear interchange of information between the client and the therapist. While the therapist is educated on the various aspects of massage therapy, the client must openly discuss their needs with the therapist. This relationship in therapy will allow it to be a positive experience for both. Through education and an awareness of what will happen during a session, the potential client can be prepared to be a partner with their therapist during their massage therapy experience.