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Taboos, The massage, Therapist and client

Massage and Trust

Do you know the intent of your massage therapist? The reason why she or he is a massage therapist and enjoys giving you a massage? Are you certain that every single touch is fully professional? Can you be sure your therapist is evaluating your body for professional reasons only? Do you know the reason for every massage stroke used. Are you sure your therapist is properly trained and won’t harm you out of ignorance?

There are many questions arising when you begin to think about trust and massage therapy.

Not only are there the professional questions: Is the therapist properly qualified, does he know what he’s doing, is he capable of treating what he claims to treat, is he highly skilled or just trying out new things?

But there’s also the entire range of emotional questions: Can you trust the intent of the touch, are you being judged on your body, is there anything sexual going on, does the therapist really want what’s best for me? Does he treat you fully, or just partially so you have to come back later? Will he maintain confidentiality? Can you trust his word or does he lie to you?

All these questions begin to show the importance of trusting your massage therapist. And it’s not an easy thing to achieve this trust and know if the massage therapist is the right one for you and what you require.

In most cases the professional questions are fairly easy to answer. Therapists are educated from schools and are certified one way or another. The schools and certifications can be checked and verified.  Experience is important for massage therapy as the sensitive touch is developed via exposure to different massage situations. A therapist who has given 200 massages give a rather different massage from one who’s done ten thousand massages. The former primarily go more by knowledge from theory, where the latter has true wisdom from theory and personal experiences. Finally, you can check what others say about your massage therapist. Are the clients happy with the massages, do they return repeatedly because it’s so good, do they write positive reviews or just standard ones?

The emotional questions are much, much harder to answer, and eventually you’ll have to trust your own impression and gut feeling there. Of course, the reputation of the massage therapist goes a long way, just as recommendations from friends and people you already trust.

But in the end, you have to know your massage therapist and understand his intent and motivations in order to be sure he won’t laugh at an involuntarily erection, or stare at your breasts thinking you’re his next conquest.

Trust also plays a role in how openly you can communicate with your therapist. When you fully trust him or her, you’re much more likely to speak up about what’s on  your mind in regards to the massage. You’re more likely to give feedback that something is unpleasant and hurts, you’re more likely to let the therapist know that what’s happening is good. And you’re much more likely to speak about what you’re worried about and what might embarrass you; your looks, your hairy legs, worry about erection or what it might be.

Finally, trusting  your therapist fully allows you to relax and receive the massage with an open mind and heart. This in turn allows the therapist to work deeper into the muscles and give you a better massage because you’re receptive and trust his trust completely. You don’t worry about if it might hurt too much or if the touch might have a different meaning.

It’s also important for the therapist to trust the client. This might sound a bit odd, but as a therapist we need to be able to trust that you will speak up when something hurts and that you will let us know if there’s something we need to be aware of and pay attention to. We need to trust that you’re not hiding something from us that could make us harm you during the massage.

Especially for women massaging male clients we need to trust that your for with the massage is purely massage and not anything sexual. And if an involuntarily erection happens, that it’s by happenstance and not something that you desired or urged forward. We need to trust that you won’t turn against us and harm us in any way, be it physically in the massage room or verbally by slander and lies.

Open and honest communication goes a long way to build trust and it clears out what misunderstandings might arise from perfectly normal situations. Talk to your therapist and don’t be afraid to voice your concern and raise your questions as soon as they appear. In most cases our minds create demons where there are just small bugs and talking with your therapist will cast light on matters.

If your therapist isn’t open to talk, as long as it’s related to the massage and what happens during it, then you might consider finding yourself another therapist.

It is very important that you trust your therapist, and it’s important that your therapist trust you in return. If you can’t trust your therapist, then he’s not the right therapist for you.

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About Pia Poulsen

Pia Poulsen is educated as a wellness massage therapist at Institut FIGARI in Paris, from where she passed her certification exam in January 2008. Since then she has expanded her skills to become the first Advanced LaStone® practitioner in France as well as a certified LaStone® instructor.


4 Responses to “Massage and Trust”

  1. Giving access to your body, placing yourself in a position of vulnerability, allowing someone (other than your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend) to touch your body in a fairly intimate way…. Trust is an absolute requirement in order to fully enjoy a massage.

    I have experienced massages with many therapists over the years, and the ones I enjoyed the most are the ones with my regular therapist. With her, I feel totally confident, I know I can just lay there, vulnerable, and not have the slightest ounce of worry about a_n_y_t_h_i_n_g – I can just “drop my guard” and abandon myself totally to her hands and enjoy the ride. During sessions with her, I fell into deep relaxation states, had erections, fell asleep, drooled, I even “broke wind” a couple of times – but none of that mattered and none of that kept me from relaxing and enjoying – for I knew I was in good hands and I was not being judged – and my therapist was also confident – she knows that she can do her job freely; For example, she now massages my thighs and belly, something she was a bit reluctant to do at first, because she trusts me and knows that her actions or her touch won't be misinterpreted. The whole massages are done in a state of mutual trust. Feels great!

    As Pia suggested, avoid jumping from therapist to therapist – Instead, try to find a therapist that suits you, a therapist you feel comfortable with, and stick to him/her! Over time, trust will settle in for both giver and receiver, you will be more relaxed while receiving the massage, you will abandon yourself more, your muscles will be more soft and easier to work with, the therapist will be more relaxed giving it to you, and the whole experience will only get better for both of you.

    Posted by MasterBaker | Tuesday 9 March, 2010, 15:23
  2. Thank you so much for your comment, MasterBaker. It's always great to hear stories from the other side of the massage table.


    Posted by Pia | Tuesday 9 March, 2010, 21:17
  3. Absolutely we must try to find a therapist that suits us, a therapist we feel comfortable with

    Jason Webb

    Posted by Jason Webb | Friday 9 July, 2010, 08:42
  4. Yes, it is 200% correct that we must trust our therapist, and it's important that therapist also trust us in return. The massage is purely massage and not anything else. Pia Poulsen you are a real professional.

    Posted by Chris portable massage table guy | Monday 29 November, 2010, 10:28