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Massage environment, The massage, Tools

Signals sent via the massage environment

When decorating a treatment room and other areas a client might enter, it’s important to consider what signals that might be sent. One thing is the subconscious signals via colours, plants, music and scents which affect our emotional state. But there is also the more obvious signals to take into consideration. The types of paintings, statues, religious symbols etc.

Before starting to decorate a massage room you must consider your client base and what type of people they are. The decoration must be appealing to them to have them feel secure, safe and return for more appointments. The decoration must not be offensive to the clients in any way, or they will certainly not return for further appointments.

With the international and multicultural world we live in, it is especially important to give a neutral expression. Unless of course you know your clients will only belong to one group and none from other groups will come. Then you can cater your decoration to suit and fit the group.

Traditional religious symbols are easy to recognize and avoid. A therapist should never impose his or her own religious and spiritual views upon the clients, unless such is obvious from the name, type of massage offered or announcements. A massage therapist is a health professional, even when not officially recognized as such. The same rules apply to massage therapists as to doctors, nurses and dentists. You keep your views, philosophies and religions to yourself and speak generally about matters if they are brought up by the client.

It’s also good to keep in mind that many new age and eastern symbols can be offensive to traditional western religions. Some Christians might find the use of crystals and talk of energy and divine love offensive, while a pagan would find a prayer on the wall offensive. There is even the question of cultural norms in regards to how you dress and speak to the client. Some cultures do not allow for a man to see a woman undressed, or finds it inappropriate to shake hand or have naked shoulders.

Even as innocent things as paintings can cause discomfort and be offensive. Typical new age paintings in a very conservative society could cause things to become awkward. Dali’s surrealism could offend other groups, pictures of holy places or religious symbols offend those of opposing beliefs and so on.

You have to be critical of what you decorate with. Often things like nature scenery, plants and flowers are safe and universally accepted as pleasing to the eye and mind and non-offensive. Lack of statues, religious symbols and writings is another.

This of course takes away a lot of your individuality if you can’t put your personal touch on the place where you work. It is important though to put yourself in the shoes of the client and try and predict and understand what can cause them issues. Then find a subtle way to decorate. And in an inoffensive manner to add your touch to the place and give it the energy and symbolism you wish to convey to your clients.

If you are uncertain, then don’t do it, or ask your clients for feedback. It can be as part of a general feedback asking them to list what they like and enjoy about your massages and place, and what they would improve if they could. Let the decoration be a small part of a generally inquiring form for customer feedback and use that as an indication if your decoration is appealing and pleasing.

Related articles:
Décor and Room, Setting the Mood, and Colours and Moods

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.


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