For the client, this can be a confusing situation especially if you’re not used to having treatments. Common concerns are usually about tipping, how much clothing to take off and talking during the treatment. These are my opinions on what is the correct etiquette in massage but others may have a different view:
- Do I have to make small talk? – It’s up to you as the paying client. There are training bodies that teach their therapists to speak only when spoken to in the therapy room but if I feel there’s a slightly awkward feeling from the client then I do make chit chat. This tends to immediately relax the client as I’ve made that choice for them. However, if you don’t want to chat then that’s entirely your choice and feel free to tell your therapist. If they’re good, they’ll understand. Obviously if you’re having remedial massage then the therapist will have to ask you for feedback on pressure etc so please do speak up in those moments! I generally take my cue from the client – if they talk then so do I.
- Do I have to get naked? – NO! You may need to strip down to your underwear but you do not have to remove your underpants. I know some therapists who have asked their male and female clients to remove their underpants if they are working in the gluteal area (buttocks) which is fine if you feel comfortable doing that. I let my female clients keep their bras on if this is more comfortable for them. If you are asked to remove all of your underwear by a therapist and you don’t want to, then don’t. Likewise, don’t assume you need to remove every stitch of clothing when asked to get underdressed – ask your therapist if they haven’t told you, especially with regards to your underwear. If you want to remove your underwear then ask your therapist. Whatever you’re wearing, or not, on the couch, the only area of your body that’s being worked on will be uncovered. Finally, if you want privacy to undress, then ask your therapist to leave the room. Don’t feel bad about asking. I usually hold up my towel while my client is undressing and then just drape it over them as they lie on the couch. For, me this saves time which can be spent on the treatment.
- Should I tip my therapist? – It’s entirely up to you if you want to reward a good therapist if you’ve not only had a good treatment but good service and aftercare advice too. I get tips fairly regularly, which is always much appreciated but don’t feel you have to do it all the time.
- I’m embarrassed about my body – therapists see all shapes and sizes and from my experience, I don’t notice and judge anyone on their ‘imperfections’. I’ve had lots of women say they’re embarrassed that they haven’t shaved their legs. So what? We’re all the same underneath!
The key thing to remember is that any good therapist will have a consultation with you before your first massage to go through your health and lifestyle as well as the basics like your name and address. Use that time to ask any questions if you’re not sure about anything to do with your treatment. Or call your therapist beforehand to discuss your concerns.