Center for Therapeutic Massage
and Counseling


Your First Therapeutic Massage


Irene Wade Belcher


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wpe1.gif (1557 bytes)You are joining a growing number of men and women who have found therapeutic massage to be a valuable addition to their health and fitness routines, and an effective complement to other health services. Many people seek therapeutic message as a natural means to promote healthy body functioning, and to enhance the body’s own healing powers.

As with any new experience, you probably have many questions about what to expect in your first massage session. This brochure is designed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and make your first visit as comfortable and productive as possible.

Reasons for Getting a Massage

One of the first things your massage therapist will want to know is why you are getting a massage. An experienced massage therapist will plan the session to address your needs and desires. The most common reasons for massage are:

General relaxation/ revitalization
wpe2.gif (1481 bytes)Relief of Tension Headaches
Relief of Sore or Tight Muscleswpe3.gif (1383 bytes)
General Health and Fitness
Improved Circulation
wpe4.gif (1428 bytes)Relief of General or chronic body pain
As a complementary therapy to other Health Care

Let your therapist know in the initial interview what you are looking for, and discuss how his or her approach can best help you.

What Are Your Concerns About the Session?

Discuss with the massage therapist any concerns you have about the upcoming session. It is important that you are comfortable during the massage, and that you know your options. Here are some commonly expressed concerns of newcomers to massage:

Modesty: In a standard massage session, you will be covered with a sheet. You may choose to be totally or partially unclothed. As each part of the body is being massaged, it is uncovered. Genital areas and women’s breasts are covered at all times. Many people prefer to wear underpants or shorts during a massage. The choice as to how much or how little you are clothed is totally yours.

Talking: Talking during a massage is optional. Some people prefer silence, especially if they are trying to reach a deeply relaxed state, while others like more social interaction. Always feel free to give the therapist feedback on anything causing discomfort. The therapist may request feedback from you, especially when addressing a specific physical problem.

wpe6.gif (1355 bytes)Oil: Oil, lotion, crème, or other lubricant is commonly used to enable the therapist’s hands to easily over the skin. Inform the therapist of any allergies you have which might be aggravated by the lubrication used. You may also inquire about removing the lubricant after the session if you are concerned that it may stain your clothing.

Make-up and Hair: Massage of the face, scalp, or neck may result in disturbing your makeup or hair style. Let the therapist know if this is a concern. The session may be modified to assure that make-up and hair remain intact, or, depending on your wishes, that part of the massage may be left out altogether.

Pain: Whether you will feel any pain during a massage depends on many factors, including your physical condition, the reason for the massage, your pain tolerance, and the therapist’s technique. Discuss this before the message, and give feedback to the therapist during the session.

wpe12.gif (1450 bytes)Tense muscles are often sore, and may hurt a little when massaged. Sometimes soreness is delayed after a massage. This is a good sign that your body is ridding itself of toxins. Take a hot shower or bath, and drink plenty of waterwpe5.gif (1332 bytes) to help remove waste products flushed out during a massage. This is especially important after the first massage. The more massage you receive, the less likely it is that you will experience post-massage soreness.

Length of the Session: Massage sessions generally last from ½ to 1 ½ hours. The amount of time depends on the purpose of the session, the therapist’s schedule, and the availability of your time and resources.

Are There Any Restrictions?

There are certain situations in which caution should be taken when receiving therapeutic massage. It is generally agreed upon that persons with uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, recent surgery or fractures, phlebitis, fever, infections (especially those that can be spread by skin contact, i.e., bacterial, viral, or fungal), need to consult their physicians for any restrictions on receiving massage. In other acute or chronic medical conditions, limited restrictions may apply, and in rare cases, massage should be avoided altogether. If in doubt, check with your doctor.

What Health Information Should I Provide?

You may be asked to provide certain information to the massage therapist about your past and current health. This information is helped used to plan the massage session, and to insure your safety. Important information includes any major health problems you have, medications you are taking, allergies, state of pregnancy, and recent accidents or injuries. There may be a written form to fill out. More information may be requested if a specific health problem is being addressed than for a general massage session.

Financial Matters

Be sure to discuss financial matters with the therapist before the session to avoid any miscommunication.

wpe13.gif (1067 bytes)  Payment: Payment is due either immediately before or after the session by check or cash.

Missed Appointments: It is necessary to give at least 24 hours notice if you must cancel an appointment. For appointments missed without proper notice, you may be ask to pay in full or in part, depending on the circumstances, Insurance Coverage: Check with your insurance company. Coverage varies from company to company.

How Do I Choose A Massage Therapist?

Some common considerations in choosing a therapist are approach or style, qualifications, and gender.

Qualifications: Training and experience of therapists vary. Some states require licensing of massage therapists. Georgia only requires a certificate. However, there are different types of certification including: Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), and Certified Neuromuscular Massage Therapist (CNMT), one who does deeper tissue work.

Gender: The gender of your massage therapist is mainly a matter of personal preference. Cross gender massage is common Above all else, your massage therapist needs to be someone with whom you can be comfortable, relax, and feel safe..

Approach or Style: Many massage therapists use a combinations of different types of massage when doing a session. The two most common styles are traditional Swedish Massage and Oriental Bodywork such as shiatsu and acupressure. Some massage therapy approaches have specific applications. Talk with your massage therapist about which are best for the goals you wish to accomplish.

Some General Advice

Be an active participant in your session. Ask questions about things you don’t understand, make your needs and wishes known, and let the therapist know if you are uncomfortable at any time. Above all, relax and enjoy your massage!


Center for Therapeutic Massage & Counseling

Irene Wade Belcher

Tucker Office Center
2161 Morris Ave.
Tucker, Georgia 30084

Phone: 678-773-2928
or: 770-939-1945

Fax: 770-939-1945

or e-mail at: IreneBelcher@BellSouth.Net

Web Site:

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