Massage, music & chat or massage in silence?

Do you prefer massage with music and chat or massage in silence? The reason I ask is I’ve had a few treatments over the years with a mixture of music, no music, a bit of chat and too much chat. Personally, I like a bit of background, relaxing music and a bit of a chat with my therapist. Massage is a personal experience and I like to know a bit about who’s treating me. That’s just my preference not necessarily what is right. For my clients I usually have relaxing music on in the background at a level that isn’t too intrusive but with new clients I always ask if they mind the music – I don’t think I’ve ever had one person say ‘no, turn it off’. I only talk to them if they initiate the conversation as I feel it’s important to give people their head space to unwind. Usually clients I know well start off chatty and then slowly become silent as they relax into the treatment. For those having deep tissue or remedial massage it’s less likely they’ll fall asleep as I am having to move them around the couch and ask for feedback about pressure etc.

But is it wrong for the therapist to talk throughout a treatment? Well I suppose it depends on the individual client but in my experience as the client, I do need time to switch off and relax even in a sports / remedial type massage. I like the music in the background as it stops me focusing on noises outside the room such as traffic noise or other people coming in and out of the clinic. But there are those clients who like to get things off their chests and is an essential part of their ‘healing process’ so I will discuss their issues to a degree.

But what sort of music should one play in a therapy room? Friends always laugh about the use of ‘whale song’ in spas but what’s wrong with whale song? I suppose it is a bit stereotypical but if it helps people relax then so what? There’s also the Cafe Del Mar and Buddha Bar collective which I favour – again, could be seen as typical chill out music or even better, there are CDs composed purely for relaxation and meditation. I like these because the music is calming and gentle and perfect for zoning-out.

I suppose in the end, us therapists need to treat each client as an individual –  ask what the client would prefer – back ground music or not; we need to sense whether our clients want to talk or not and be mindful of their emotional state. In the end, isn’t that what makes a great therapist, not just your hands-on skills?