Naturally, a healing art as old and as cross-cultural as massage has bred many techniques and approaches. So many modalities that many massage therapists – experienced and well trained in most techniques – may not know them all.
Often the same technique is practiced quite differently by different massage therapists. And sometimes the same technique has different names! Or the name, as for instance in Swedish Massage, is a misnomer – Swedish Massage was simply developed by Per Ling, a Swede who traveled in the East!
It wouldn’t surprise a savvy consumer like you to hear that more than 80% of the so-called “bodywork” modalities have been developed in the 20th century – the era of marketing, marketing, marketing. Registration of a technique and its marketing have become a lucrative business proposition. Hey, we live in an entrepreneurial age . . . and that sort of thing is understandable.
We will let you in on a secret:
Truth is, massage therapy is a low-tech healing art with a strong artistic/intuitive component. With very few exceptions, therefore, an experienced, client-oriented massage therapist trained in one of the traditional techniques – let’s say Swedish Massage or Tui-Na – can deliver excellent services without the techno bobble dropping on a busy person like you.
Fact is most professional-quality massage therapists are trained in a variety of techniques and become eclectic so as to better serve their clients’ needs. To be sure, continuing education is generally desirable.
Many newbie therapists (and some not-so-newbie ones), however, keep taking workshops to try to keep up with the “new technology,” never giving themselves a chance to get grounded in one method as a professional routine. Sadly, before they learn how to “listen with their hands” and hone the art of massage, they are busy listening to the sales pitch of a new technique . Therefore, massage technique per se – the most frequent of FAQs – is a relatively unimportant one.
If I have the choice of an advanced practitioner who is full of himself or a basic practitioner who genuinely cares, I will go for the caring . . . It is harder to educate the character, the person of the therapist, the WHO in the therapeutic relationship than to just tell the student WHAT to do.
Nonetheless, caring deeply remains not only our first concern but our first resource, Technique remains a distant second. Indeed, when a therapist is committed to deep caring – which we call client-centeredness – and not to the latest modality (or the latest massage table on the market), the patient gets precisely the right kind of massage therapist. No tough choice is needed.
And that right kind of therapist only gets better with time!