The Skills & Practices That Make a Great Massage Therapist

Stoddard Worman
September 08, 2020

Any given industry or social circle will have their own unique code of ethics and best practices, and massage therapy is no exception. Massage is a service-based industry and further, it deals with people’s health and wellness. This means that it’s especially important for practitioners to know the ins and outs of great service in the realm massage therapy!

Whether you need help deciding on a great therapist or you’re a current or future professional in the industry, we cover all the basics of client retention and professional standards for massage therapists right here!

Customer Service

This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is a particularly important aspect of the massage therapy industry. The truth is that many of the people that walk through the door of a spa or clinic on any given day will need some caring attention, and that’s totally normal!

It’s fairly common for a client to be initially nervous or unsure about how much clothing they should be wearing during a massage, for example. Others might have a condition or ailment they hope to treat that they can’t quite articulate. Yet another client could be uncomfortable or unaware of how they should be communicating with their therapist during the massage about discomfort or intensity.

In order for a client to get the most out of their experience, a great massage therapist should be friendly, informative, and most of all keenly aware and anticipatory of the needs of their client. Beyond that, service industries thrive on relationship building! Don’t be afraid to be friendly and get to know your provider or your guest; familiarity and rapport breed a great experience over and over again.


We just mentioned discomfort and massage intensity, and for good reason. Certain types of massage may have brief moments of discomfort, depending on the type of treatment a client needs. In general, though, if a massage is starting to hurt or cause general discomfort the therapist should be responsive to this feedback.

To some extent, therapists should also be able to pick up on certain non verbal cues from their clients, such as facial expressions or consistent fidgeting and moving. This type of responsiveness helps the client to have a positive experience, as well as avoid potentially exacerbating an injury or ailment the massage was supposed to have treated.


No two clients will have exactly the same needs when they come in. Massage therapy can be great for boosting immune and circulatory function, preventing and improving delayed onset soreness from athletic exertion and workouts, reducing scar tissue, and of course, just some good old relaxation. This means, however, that the type of treatment a massage therapist administers should be tailored to their client’s specific needs; the overall realm of “massage therapy” includes a variety of techniques and modalities that are meant to provide unique results.

Typically, massage therapy programs won’t cover each and every one of these modalities, and some therapists will choose to specialize in one or a few techniques, but a great practitioner should have a diverse enough skill set to serve a wide range of clients effectively.

Additionally, continuing education courses that focus on modalities like Zen Shiatsu, lymphatic massage, and more, offer therapists the ability to expand and hone their skills. For current and aspiring therapists, focus on career training that will set you up for success. For guests, make sure your therapist is able to effectively provide you the service you need!

The Indiana Wellness College Difference

Our programs are designed to focus on a variety of medical and sports massage techniques, as well as business practices and ethics, anatomy, and more! That means if you’re an aspiring massage therapist (which is a great call, our industry is expected to grow at a rate of 22%!), our Massage Therapy course can give you a comprehensive education in a rewarding and fun industry.

For guests, this means that you don’t have to sacrifice quality for affordability. Our student clinic could be a great choice for you to experience the IWC difference in action, whether you need help with recovery, performance enhancement, or just a nice relaxing afternoon!

Learn more about why changing careers to massage therapy is a good idea.

Need a massage? Check out our massage and esthetics services HERE!

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