I live to serve.Anyone who is a massage therapist knows this. There are times when you introduce yourself, or are introduced as a massage therapist, and the person’s reaction is to literally turn their back to you and in one way or another, lean into you and directly or indirectly indicate that you are going to work with them right there in that moment.

I’m not sure how other massage therapists respond to this, but my reaction is to have an internal secret moment of “HA HA HA HA HA! ummmm no.”  I then compose my internal dialogue with a deep breath and politely inform the person, “I can’t work with (not to be confused with on) you right now, however, if you would like to receive a professional massage therapy session with me you can call and we can schedule a session. I’d love to hear from you.” If you feel like it, you can go into “my specialty is _______ and my office is only a mile from here. If you have specific complaints we can address those when we meet for your appointment” I would say this while handing them my card. Now, in this modern day of smartphones, you could schedule them on the spot. Not my style, but may be yours.

If this is at a bar, and this does seem to be a potential client, I will most likely change my location to distance myself from them so they are not witness to any of my personal activities, or at least behave with a higher level of awareness of my professional representation.

Massage Therapists who will give a spontaneous massage at a party, or at a bar, or a neck rub at the beach etc. to strangers and potential REAL clients are doing a disservice to our profession. It may seem counter-intuitive to the massage therapist, but they are also sabotaging their own client recruitment. It’s one thing to work with your friend at the beach, or help your relative or close friend out in any location when they are in need, giving 5 or so minutes of specific treatment. That’s different.

When a massage therapist provides treatment for strangers in a non-professional environment, it hurts the profession. The therapist is indicating that we do this for free any chance we get, and whenever some-body turns their back to us we are ready to serve their needs. You don’t see dental hygienists pulling out their dental scaler, dental floss and a spit bowl at a bar, do you? Mortgage Brokers don’t whip out documents to be filled out and signed at the bar, beach or a concert or anywhere other than their desk. They don’t do this because they are professionals, and it would be a completely ridiculous thing to do.

We too are professionals, and when professional massage therapists demean our profession by performing massage therapy in a non-professional public place on the spot with potential clients it sends the wrong message to everyone about who we are, what we do, and how we value it. Furthermore, it is totally unethical because you do not do a thorough intake and you don’t know what contraindications, or medications the client presents with or are taking. If this is in a resort of bar setting we must avoid working with people who are intoxicated in any way, and chances are something has been ingested or smoked.

In closing, I will just add something completely random that unfortunately I feel compelled to say.  If you are at the Phish Show, one burrito is NOT a decent trade for a massage, however, if you have your massage chair at the phish show, and you receive 5 burritos, and the person trading the burritos is not tripping on psychedelics this may appear to be a decent trade for a 10 minute massage. I highly recommend before you enter negotiations on this barter situation, consider this:

  1. You are there to provide massage therapy and market yourself.
  2. Burrito guy is NOT regulated by the health department.
  3. You are going to eat onions and garlic.
  4. You might have to use the porta potty.

Please help keep Massage Therapy Professional! Seriously.