Posted on February 13, 2017
Choosing a Therapist: Why go private?
As some of you may know I spend a lot of time on the RTD bus and rail system. It’s usually a relaxing adventure, riding back and forth from work: quiet, meditative and without the struggle of driving in Denver and finding a place to park. There are usually a plethora of people to watch and sometimes they like to be talked to as well. Topics range from the weather to politics, bus fares, favorite routes, weekend plans, religion, people watching, activism and usually sports get involved somewhere.
The question of my job comes up eventually and fortunately most people, including myself, enjoy talking about the life-changing experience of bodywork. Things get uncomfortable for most folks when the question of my prices comes up and today I want to clarify my reasoning a little: Why is it worth it to spend the extra 15%-30% I and other therapists charge for our services?
Every bodywork specialist, whether they are a chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, physical therapist or any other you can think of, while you are on their table should be dedicating their full attention and time to you. At the spa, studio or office attention to the client’s needs in the present moment is paramount in this field. But what about before and after? If the session was great, but you felt rushed or neglected coming in or going out, what is that worth? A (idealized) private MT (massage therapist, getting lazy about typing that out) will not only be focused and attentive while you are on the table, they will welcome you into their space, make you comfortable with water and create a smooth transition from paperwork to under the covers. Afterward there should be zero rush on check-out and an opportunity for you to talk with them about what was worked on, what to work on next time, next appointment scheduling, etc.
TL;DR: With a private MT you get the time setting up the session (scheduling, setup), the time in the session and the time after completely dedicated to you.
Similar to Time, a private MT puts forth their attention toward your well being for the duration of the session as well as before and after. As part of the preparation, a good massage therapist performs self care, grounding and paperwork review. This may involve stretches, meditation, review of your history, research on techniques and helpful stretches for your condition, drinking water or getting a snack. And after you have left they might confirm scheduling, update their notes on your progress, thoroughly clean and clear the space (depends upon the therapist and how hippy-dippy they are) for the next client.
TL;DR: A private MT will dedicate their attention to preparing for, providing and cleaning up after your session. Maintenance of your history and their self care are high priority to ensure the best experience possible.
For you and for them, your private MT will be mindful of body mechanics and proper techniques. The funny irony about being a massage therapist is that we too need massage in order to massage. If your MT is on top of it, the amount of bodywork they will require to ensure your bodywork is on par will be for maintenance only due to their use of excellent body mechanics, correct application of techniques and rapt attention to both of you and their comfort. They will also take the time to eat and drink between sessions (and drinking during as well), rest their body by providing the proper amount of bodywork that they can safely handle in a day/week and prevent you from getting sick with them by rescheduling your session and maintaining a clean studio space. Participation in physical self care outside of work such as Thai Chi, Youthful American Gob-removing Activity (see here for some observed difference between this and yoga), Chi Gong and even climbing.
TL;DR: A private MT will take care of themselves in order to take care of you.
Though not required in some states, continuing to educate themselves is an important aspect of any great massage therapist. Though not specific to a private massage therapist, having an MT that not only explores new ways to help their clients, but also ways to help you specifically is one to find and keep. Discovering advanced methodologies for handling your challenge with arthritis, carpal tunnel and sciatica from classes, seminars and other therapists is an invaluable aspect of your chosen massage therapist.
TL;DR: A MT that educates themselves and you is worth keeping and a private one that actively invests in their education for your specific benefit is good expenditure of your extra dollars.
And lastly, as a private massage therapist will very likely have their own space with their own equipment you are guaranteed the benefit of not encountering other therapists or clients using or leaving or taking over the table before and after your session. You will always be shown into the same location with the arrangement that you appreciated the last time you were here and though the session itself will change with your needs the guarantee of the consistency in the space and style is extremely comforting.
TL;DR: You will end up in the same room with the same arrangement and style with a private massage therapist.
So what are you getting for the extra chunk of change? A whole lot and all of it for your benefit as well. Think of investing in a good private massage therapist as that extra 3 miles on top of that extra mile you are investing in by getting a regular massage anyway. And by working with one therapist consistently in their own space they have the unique opportunity to create the extra mile you need that you may not get otherwise.
Yes massage is expensive and a private therapist more so and if what you truly need is just therapeutic touch then the cheaper options that are a wonderful effect of our capitalistic culture are available. The value-added bonus of a private MT can and usually does go well beyond what one can purchase at bargain bin prices.
So, what do you think? Worth it or no? Why not find out!