Red Flags for new LMTs


I’ve been a Licensed Massage Therapist for awhile now, I’ve done my fair share of massages and I just graduated school in November. Already I have come across handfuls of “red flags” I feel obligated to warn other new massage therapists  about (or even ones that have been at it for awhile).

scrubs-personal-safetyAs Massage Therapists, our reputation is shaky at best. The reason being how we’re perceived and portrayed by the media, human trafficking, television and movies, jokes and rumors, society, people who use our titles to cover up that they’re members of the sex industry, treating us as little more than whores.

Rather than the healthcare practitioners we are. Our reputations should be as healers, givers, doing what we do to help improve your mental and physical health. The benefits of Professional massage are astounding. Yet many do not and will not realize that, and will refuse to.

massage therapistRed Flags

#1.  When a client calls you and asks you questions such as “Do you provide full body massages”, “What kind of ‘other’ types of massages do you offer” or starts asking you to describe your draping style in detail, “So what kind of draping do you do? Is it fully nude? Is there a towel?” (Yes, I’ve actually had this question asked. )

How to deal with it: In such case as the man asking for ‘draping details’, I told him that I use full draping, in case he was worried, everything is covered except for the body part I am working on, such as an arm or leg. I assured him it was very modest and secure. If they begin asking about your modalities, you can tell them you offer Professional massage dictated by ethical massage standards and according to state law. For fun, I even told him I offer prenatal massage too. This dissuades them and lets them know you are a Professional. If you are uncomfortable with their questioning, DON’T feel the need to “put up with it” or worry you may lose a client or be rude if you say no. Your safety is priority 1 in this business. They say “first do no harm” in regards to your clients, and I agree with that, I took the oath too. But I say, be choosy with your clientele. If something feels wrong, IT IS. You can tell the person, “I am a Professional Massage Therapist, and it sounds as if you are seeking services I don’t provide. Please do not contact this number again.”

Red flag

#2. Clients who say they are only in town that day and need an appointment right away. I’ve been burned by this more than once. If you doubt their sincerity, you can begin asking detailed questions about why they are seeking massage in such urgency. Are they injured, do they have an old injury flaring up, etc.  It’s completely your choice whether to accept them or not, but do keep in mind their urgency may not be urgency, but dishonesty, and this can lead to all sorts of trouble. Also, I’ve noticed, that many of these “short notice” appointments don’t show.

frustrated1Red Flag

#3. Multi Level Businesses and distributors. Many people who are independent distributors for a multi level company that sell products such as vitamins etc, find it an easy marketing tool to make one-time appointments with massage therapists and other healthcare providers to give them the opportunity to market their goods. These are usually the ones that make up excuses as to why they cannot book a second appointment by saying they are from out of town, they’ll be gone for a long time, etc. Usually without prompting. They will make excuses for their appointment, rush through paperwork, and make multiple references to their product before going into a full spiel usually at the end of the massage. You are not under obligation to listen to their spiel. They’re not coming to you for help. They’re coming to you for profit. If you find their product interesting and are genuinely interested, then by all means, allow them to engage you in their conversation, etc. Just beware. I was offered a “job” at a salon purely to give the owners more opportunity to try and get me and my fellow massage therapist friend (who found the “job” for me) to buy their products and try and convince us to become distributors (and use me for free receptionist work). A lot of them get commission and extra points/money for talking others into becoming distributors. They never scheduled me any clients, and it was a huge disaster that wasted A LOT of my time.

PyramidSide Note:

Male massage therapists: Keep in mind that all these situations apply to you as well. Do not be afraid to let your client/potential client know you are a Professional, you adhere to strict ethical behavior and expect the same of them. Some female (and male) clients who are looking for the “wrong” kind of service may have more of a tendency to get handsy during the massage than if their therapist was a girl. ALL MASSAGE THERAPISTS: Do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT feel embarrassed, shy, rude, ashamed, or mean to tell somebody NO, to immediately terminate the session, to tell somebody you will not put up with that kind of behavior, to kick them out, etc. It is your RIGHT to protect yourself in ANY way. If they begin to get inappropriate (sexual remarks, innuendos, trying to touch you, intentionally trying to expose their genitals/breasts to you, etc) immediately let go, step back, STOP THE MASSAGE, and tell them their service is done, you expect full payment up front and they are not welcome back. Then step out of the room. DON’T FORGET TO DOCUMENT THE ENTIRE EPISODE IN YOUR SOAP NOTES. That is capitalized because it is dire and crucial to get your side of the story down as soon as possible and in as much detail as possible. Just in case they make false claims against you in retribution, that SOAP note is your savior. Remember: You are a Professional. And ALWAYS trust your gut instincts.

MaleLMTAnd as they say, I got your back, jack. If you’re having issues regarding your clientele, find another massage therapist willing to help you out. Don’t feel alone. Go to an old teacher, mentor,  call up an LMT out of the phone book and describe your issue. Come online and find an LMT to talk to. We’re all here for each other. Don’t ever think you have to deal with your Massage Therapy woes alone. We may help people, but it’s important we take care of and protect ourselves as well, and nobody understands that like a massage therapist.

Namaste, and good luck to all 🙂




“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity”

-Edgar Allan Poe


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