Sure, we all want to say that we would immediately end a massage if we felt uncomfortable, but it isn’t always that easy. Solicitors tend to be wishy-washy in their requests, which leaves the therapist confused or unsure of their intentions. Sometimes, it takes the entire massage to be sure that the client was looking for “more” than a massage. Here are ways to avoid getting to that point.
Screen new clients if you are unsure of their intentions. Talk to them ON THE PHONE before they come in. If they only want to talk over text, that is a red flag.
- Have you received a massage before?
- Where did you receive the massage?
- What are your goals for the massage?
- Are there any health issues I need to be aware of?
By the end of this line of questioning, you should be able to tell where they stand. If you are unsure or uneasy, do not schedule the massage. You can say something like, “My specialty is ______. I don’t feel like I am the right therapist for you.” Yes, you may lose a client, but it is better than dreading the appointment, being fearful, and potentially being in a bad situation.
Have excuses to end a massage at the ready. In most cases, when a client is being subtle and vague in their solicitation, we start to get a feeling that something is off, but we don’t know how to get out if it because we feel bad, guilty, unsure of ourselves, or we simply just can’t think of an out. At this point, you are nervous and your brain may not be working quickly. Thinking of an excuse to get out of the room can seem impossible. Plan ways to get out of the massage BEFORE something happens.
- “Excuse me. I don’t feel well.”
- “My nose is running. Excuse me while I take care of that and wash my hands.”
Leave the room and collect yourself. Tell a colleague or staff member that you are uncomfortable and ask them to help you end the massage. If you practice alone, come back to the practice room, knock on the door and say, “I need to end the massage, I am sick.”
End the massage or do not schedule it at all. Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy for any reason, end it. You do not have to give an explanation. Protect yourself. No client is worth your sanity and self-worth.
In all of the stories I have heard from other therapists (and from my own experiences), the situations where you let a client go too far are avoidable. Let go of the feelings of guilt for not providing the entire scheduled massage or turning a client away altogether. Losing a client here or there because you don’t feel right about it is better than regretting being a massage therapist. There are endless well-meaning, honest clients out there. Turn down those that creep you out. It is not worth it!
Join Respect Massage
Respect Massage is a way for all therapists and supporters of massage therapists to stand together and face sexual solicitations of legitimate massage therapists. The Respect Massage logo is available for download for free, or you can support the movement by displaying window decals and stickers throughout your practice.
We are all in this together, and I know it is not an easy subject to discuss. Let’s make it easier to talk about by supporting each other and let your story be heard.