How to Know He or She Is the Right Therapist

Let's say you have seen the same therapist for 3 or 4 sessions. By now you should know whether or not this person's work is helping you. You should be able to tell your therapist what your objectives are for a given session, and then when it is over, you should feel that your objectives were met to your satisfaction, look

I will interject for one clarification: Do not expect to receive work on multiple areas of tension unless you have booked the appropriate amount of time for all those areas to be addressed. An hour is the standard time frame, although therapists may allocate blocks of time based on their preferences. They might offer you a single therapeutic session that will last 60 or 75 minutes, depending on their style of work, or they may require that you purchase a block of time: 60, 75, or 90 minutes. Be aware that what can be accomplished in 90 minutes cannot be accomplished in 60, so set reasonable goals. Maybe it is better for you to go once weekly for 60 minutes or every other week for 75 minutes. Consider your session goals before you arrive and be prepared to discuss them efficiently so you don't eat up your table time in discussion.

The right therapist for you will respect your boundaries completely, not feed into conversation while s/he is working, never make judgmental statements about you in any way, and never offer "diagnoses" of any conditions you may present. If your session goal is to relax and zone out, then the massage should provide that. If your goal is more to release very tight muscles in specific areas, then you should feel some release of those muscles afterward.

Bear in mind that if your muscles are very developed because you work out often, are not terribly flexible, have not been getting regular massage, and you tend to carry your stress around in your body, then one session of deep tissue work may not be enough. You may not start to feel the effects of the massage until you've experienced a few sessions with the same therapist. And remember that lifestyle changes are up to you only. No amount of massage is going to take away heavy amounts of long-term, uninterrupted stress on your body unless you combine the bodywork with other healthy choices. Nevertheless, if you see the same therapist several times and you don't feel any effect, then look elsewhere.

If you are a large, muscular man, then a small, thin woman may not be the best choice for you if you are looking for deep tissue work on problem areas. On the other hand, a well-trained therapist knows how to use her body to apply pressure, so do not assume that the 120-pound female therapist about to work on your tight shoulders cannot accomplish your session goals. Depending on her training and technique, she may very well know exactly how to apply enough pressure to relieve a week's worth of tension. If you spend 15 minutes on the table with a therapist you have never met and do not feel any benefit even after telling the therapist you need more or less pressure, consider stopping the session, asking for a pro-rated fee for, say, a half-hour session, and then politely taking leave. Then you have paid for the therapist's time but still have something left over for a session with a different professional whose work may be more suitable for you. Granted that in a spa setting, you may not be able to negotiate this sort of thing with the individual therapist, but would be more likely in private one-on-one settings.