How Do You Ease Client Insecurities About Massage?

['Round the Table]

First impressions are most important. Greeting new clients with a firm handshake and welcoming smile, and using their name to invite them back to the treatment room go a long way to alleviate any insecurities about receiving massage. Once there, explaining what will happen (draping, areas worked, etc.) and asking if they prefer you not touch certain body areas, and which they prefer you focus on, makes them feel listened to and in control of the situation. I also let them know it is OK to tell me when they need more or less pressure or if they are too warm or too cold, so I can adjust it. I ask them if they have any questions for me and take time to answer them, then I check in with them during the session to make sure all is well and they are enjoying themselves.

Amy Fontaine
Charlotte, North Carolina


When a new massage client comes to me and I feel their nervousness, I immediately let them know that I am glad it is me they came to first. I tell them my stories of how I felt about my first massage, and I try to put them at ease. I take a little extra time with their client information form and go over in detail how I might be able to help them. I let them keep their clothes on if they wish. I show them anatomy charts and make them feel they made the right decision coming in. I am constantly checking in with them and really go out of my way to make them feel cared for and nurtured. It is these types of people that need us the most. We really feel wonderful after we have nurtured them back to health and hopefully get them as return clients by just taking a little extra time and compassion.

Judi Way

Idyllwild, California


The most common fear potential clients relay to me has to do with size. I am slender and those who see themselves as overweight often apologize or question that I will be judging them. I give a very direct answer. I tell them, “That’s the great thing about massage! The human body fascinates me. All bodies are different and I enjoy the exploration. I don’t really even see that, I see the function and where ease could be brought.” This is truly how I feel. I know myself to be genetically lucky, that’s all.

Another approach I use is to tell people what I love about doing massage. I tell them my favorite part is the result: being able to see daylight between the ears and the shoulders, the flush of fresh oxygen and blood to the skin, deeper breathing—these signs tell me results occurred.

Robin West

Garberville, California


There have been times where I’ve explained to people what I do through casual conversation and the responses I get even make me feel vulnerable at times. Then and there, we’re eye to eye. Explanation, being friendly, and laughter are simple steps I use to feeling comfortable; when others are comfortable, I’m comfortable. I ask them to explain their views and then I explain mine. Both explanations stated, I see more clearly the reasons why they are timid and they may have a different outlook. Jokingly bringing up massage benefits begets laughter, the best way of feeling at ease and releasing stress, tension, and negative thoughts. Though it may be just a chuckle, it’s the first sign potential clients feel at ease with me and when ease is present, insecurities melt away, leading future clients to know I’m a stress-buster. That’s what I do.

Carlicia Huntsman

Idaho Falls, Idaho


For first-time massage clients, finding out what their expectations and reasons for the visit is vital. Oftentimes, the most reluctant clients are the ones who are in need of a massage the most and have possibly seen health practitioners prior to seeing a massage therapist. If their purpose for the visit is to reduce neck, shoulder, or lower back pain, explain the process of your massage and adjust to their needs with their feedback. A clear intake form, draping procedure, and pricing should be included as well.

Meg Sherwood

San Diego, California


Initially, I greet them with a smile and never pass judgment. I acknowledge their fears or concerns; explain about proper draping and what to wear; answer their questions honestly; give a firm, gentle handshake, looking directly in their eyes as I speak; and I never pressure them to [start the session] before they are ready. I make sure they know that their comfort—both mental and physical—is my main concern.

Christine Kampmueller

Houston, Texas


I run into this every time I am recruiting potential clients who are new to massage. Their concerns are understandable; they may not be comfortable with a stranger touching them, they may subconsciously worry about what their body might expose on the table—whether it be physical or emotional. I try to resolve this by assuring the potential client that I am just another human being; I have flaws and fears, but most importantly, I am here to enjoy life and can offer up a great massage—one that your body wants and needs. I tell them that together we can create the ultimate relaxing or revitalizing experience; they are always in control and the goal of the massage is to realize and meet their optimum state of health. It works!

Seychelles Pitton

San Francisco, California


I tell my clients that they have complete control and can stop the massage at any time. I also tell them to undress to their level of comfort, emphasizing that they will be draped the whole time. Usually, I’ll joke that most people like to leave their undies on, some like to take’em off, but I’m not going to look, so I don’t really care either way. That usually elicits a chuckle and seems to relax them a bit.

Laura Jakopak

Austin, Texas


I want my clients to know immediately that I am approachable and am openly listening to any concerns they may have. Even by telephone, it is easy to convey warmth and welcoming by keeping a soft smile on my face as I speak. As someone who once felt uneasy about receiving massage, I take extra care to communicate to clients that their comfort is very important to me. Sometimes all they need is some reassurance about draping or to know they can dress down only as far as they are comfortable with and that I will respect and work within their boundaries.

Linda Maureen Sanches

Livermore, California


Assure clients you are licensed and show them an actual license if you have it on the premises. Engage the client in a conversation about their chosen massage so that they know you can give them accurate information. And the simplest way? Give them the choice to disrobe to their comfort level.

Christy Shannon

San Diego, California


My efforts are focused on reminding them that this is their time and 100 percent in their control. During the massage, I am responsible to their comfort level and will do the work according to their specific needs.

I suggest that they keep talking and offering their thoughts during the massage, asking questions if they wish. I also start with a “discovery process” where, sheet in place, I do a full-body boney landmark contact to get them used to my touch, as well as show them I intend to keep the massage on their terms.

As a fall back, I offer to let them be fully or partially clothed during the massage (under the sheet) so they can become more comfortable with my touch.

Finally, I remind them of my goal to assist in healing and have a positive effect. If anything, at any time, is uncomfortable for any reason, I will stop or modify my techniques immediately.

Obviously, smiling and being friendly helps a lot, too!

Christopher Vallo

San Francisco, California