Teach Your Client How to Receive a Massage in 5 Simple Steps

A great client interview includes ensuring that the client knows how to receive a massage. This is an easy item to overlook, especially if the client has received massages in the past. Any new client, regardless of whether this is their first massage, can benefit from these guidelines.

Your instructions can answer some questions on their mind and calm any fears. You may be surprised by how many clients with massage experience have never had this explained by previous therapists. When clients follow your instructions, you will find it easier to complete a successful session.  Teach your client how to receive a massage with these 5 simple steps.


 Step 1: Address Eyewear and Accessories

Begin your explanation by asking them to remove all jewelry. If they wear contact lenses, suggest removing them if possible, or not wearing them when coming to their next appointment. Explain that being in the face cradle could cause lenses to be pressed against the eye and potentially scratch them.

Because some people will not feel free to remove their contacts, ask them whether there is any discomfort when you place them in the face cradle and determine whether to use it. If applicable, use a pillow on the table and have clients turn their heads from side to side during treatment.


Step 2: Visit the Washroom

Now is the perfect time to visit the washroom! Suggest that using the restroom before getting on the table is a good idea because massage can sometimes stimulate the need to go. Ask them to tell you if a restroom need arises during the session, instead of trying to wait until the session is finished.


 Step 3: Address Clothing

Next address the removal of clothing. Tell clients that most clients receive massage completely unclothed, although they will be draped at all times. Avoid using terms like naked or nude because they may conjure thoughts of sexuality (and as a byproduct, embarrassment). Explain that it is also OK to keep underwear on if they prefer. Explain that the rationale for receiving massage unclothed is tied to the physiological benefits of massage.


“Tight-fitting clothing or elastic bands put pressure on blood vessels, impeding blood flow. Because one of the main benefits of massage is enhancing blood flow, thereby ensuring that cells better receive nutrients and oxygen and more effective removal of toxins, eliminating any clothing restrictions provides a greater chance for healthy tissue functioning.”


Assure clients that whatever level of clothing removal that is comfortable for them is certainly acceptable. Explain that you will leave the room and they can use a robe or wrap the draping around them. The client can either notify you when they have returned to the table, or you can knock softly in a few moments to check if they are ready.


Step 4: Let Go

Once they are on the table, instruct them to let go of their body tension, let their body be limp like a noodle or a ragdoll and to let you do all the lifting and moving of their head, arms and legs without their help. Suggest taking a few deep breaths and exhaling fully. Tell them to think of a pleasant thought or place, to drift into the relaxing music, to use any meditation practices they may have, to think of this time as their sanctuary away from all responsibilities and cares of the world.


Let them know that is OK to fall asleep and that you will gently wake them when necessary. If during the session they feel a need to cry or laugh, assure them it is alright because massage can sometimes release emotions, and they will be safe and supported by your caring presence. Remind them to give you feedback if they have pain during the session.


Step 5: What to do when the session is over

Tell clients you will whisper in their ear when the session is completed and remind them how to safely get off the table before you leave the room. If at all possible, tell them it is okay to remain on the table for a few minutes after completing the session to soak in the feeling of relaxation, and then to get up slowly.


Describe and even demonstrate how to get off the table by asking them to roll on their side, bring their knees up to a 90-degree position, letting their feet dangle off the table. Then they should use their hands and arms to push them to a seated position; explain that this method puts the least strain on their back muscles. Instruct them to sit at the edge of the table for a few moments, gather themselves, and then gently ease off the table. Stress the need to ease off the table gently because clients who quickly push off the table could actually pull a back muscle in the process.


If your client is short or frail and your table is set high, provide a fold out step or step stool for getting on and off the table safely. If your client is elderly or frail, you may wish to cover them with the draping and help them get off the table.


Finally, let clients know you will be waiting for them in your office or will come back when they are dressed and ready after the session is completed. Ask whether they have any questions.


Tell them you will now leave the room so they may get off the table and dress. Let them know you will knock for permission to re-enter the room. Once the session is completed and you have left the room, give clients at least five minutes before checking on them to make sure they are okay.


For first timers, these steps are a must! Use your discretion or tailor these items to client’s that have received massages in the past. It’s always a good idea to go through these when it’s a client’s first time with you. You can immediately deepen your relationship and establish trust by going through these 5 steps. Did we forget any? What would you add?


Looking for more massage therapy tips? Check out our massage therapy continuing education. From required topics to specialized modalities, explore massage therapy courses designed to fulfill your requirements and help you keep pace with your job.