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Massage Bill of Rights

By Wayne McDonald

Massage is both an art and a science.

Let me begin with some general terms and facts to give you more of an idea about massage therapists that are certified and licensed. With this information you will probably surprise your therapist with how much you know and you'll be able to ask the right questions when making your next appointment.

Licensing maybe by the city where the therapist works or a State License. California has NO state licensing, but has licensing by each city. Licensing is through the police department and has nothing to do with massage therapy. In other states massage therapists can get a license through the state. Massage therapist may be required to publish their license when advertising, similar to contractors and home remodelers.


Certification or licensing may require 300 hours of training (basic) to 500 hours to 1000 hours of training. Certification of hours is usually with an accredited school. Some licensing may require a Certification plus hours of working with clients.

There is a lot of inconsistency with licensing (or non-licensing) state by state or city by city. For that reason, clients can find great massage therapists through several Massage Therapy Associations. These associations have their own standards and ethics that their members adhere to.


A massage therapist can complete 300 hours of training in about three months. In general, a therapist will learn the SCIENCE of massage or the basic massage strokes, an introduction to the muscle and skeletal system and probably an introduction to deep tissue massage. A massage therapist with 300 hours of training can do a good massage.


The next milestone is 500 hours of training. This is the ART of MASSAGE. The massage therapist will learn more about muscles and how to blend relaxing massage strokes with effective deep tissue work to get the knots out of your back.


A massage therapist with 1000 hours of training is very dedicated to their profession and is a specialist. This is the ART and SCIENCE of massage therapy. The therapist will have completed over two years of training and knows the finer points of massage therapy.


Massage therapy is like fine dining. You have the choice of dining at a local caf if you're on a budget or you can try fine dining. A massage appointment can be one hour or an hour & half.

If you want a massage to feel great and be relaxed, then a therapist with 300 to 500 of training would best fit your needs.

If you have a lot of body tension or your body feels all twisted and out place, then you'll probably want to work with someone that has over 300 of training. If you are an athlete or workout, you probably want someone with 500 hours or more.

Before booking your appointment, tell the therapist what kind of massage you are looking for. If the massage therapist is too busy to talk to you on the phone or seems a little cold, then call someone else. By the time you finish talking with the massage therapist you should already have rapport or some kind of comfortabilty with the therapist.


As a new client visiting a massage therapist you do have rights. You have the right to say "No". I know this sounds obvious, but I can not tell you how many clients I have talked to that have endured a massage because they felt they were obligated to go through with the appointment.

Within fifteen minutes of your appointment you should know if the massage therapist is there for you or just going through the motions. There is a bond, or a sense of energy, that you can feel and know that your therapist is connected with you.

If it doesn't feel right, then say thank-you and leave. Or, ask the therapist to make whatever adjustments are necessary to make it feel more comfortable. A massage is NOT about pain. Yes you may experience a little of discomfort. As my teacher once said to me, "If the client sits up like a fish, then lighten your pressure."

I remember I had a very well trained massage therapist working on me once and "he knew what was best for the client." Yes he was trained and he knew what he was doing, but that was not what I wanted for a massage on that day. I thanked him and left. A few months later I booked another appointment with him when I needed a more "detailed" massage.

If you decide to leave you may be obligated to pay for the session. Personally, I would rather end a session and pay rather than stay and endure something that is not what I need or feels like a suit that doesn't fit.

If you are not asked to pay for the session, you may tip$10 as a courtesy for the therapist who took the time to book the session. Hopefully this won't happen.


A massage therapist has the right to be treated like a person and professional. As a client you should always arrive on time and leave when the time ends.

A therapeutic massage by a licensed therapist is not erotic bodywork. If you did not ask for this before booking a session, then do not assume this is included with the massage. Some people think this is always included with a massage - don't assume anything, ask!

The massage therapist can ask a client to leave for not respecting their boundaries or for any various reasons discussed.

Draping or covering a client during a massage is for both the client and the therapist. It defines the boundaries between therapist and the client. Personally, I prefer a massage without being covered. I always ask about draping before I book an appointment.


As a massage therapist, it is a great joy to give a massage and to nurture another human being. It has many health benefits and is more than a luxury for the rich and famous. Our bodies need to be touched and nurtured. It is what makes us feel alive and makes us more loving and kind to others around us.

You can make two people happy today. Call a massage therapist today and relax into health.

Copyright 2005 Wayne McDonald

About The Author

Wayne McDonald is a licensed massage therapist and the founder of 123relax Massage Directory. To find a Health Therapist near you visit us at and


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