Successful massage therapy begins before your massage therapy client touches the table. A pretreatment client interview will help set expectations, increase the effectiveness of your treatment, and relieve any anxiety on the client’s part.
- When clients schedule a first appointment, let them know that you will be conducting a short interview before treatment begins. Ask them to make a list of any questions or concerns and bring it with them.
- Provide a pre-interview questionnaire. Your questions should focus on general health conditions and medical history.
- Have a private space to conduct interviews. Your massage client will be more willing to share personal information.
- Be ready to probe for details. Some clients need to be encouraged to share information about their health.
- Give the client some general information on your practice before you start asking questions. This is especially important for first time massage clients who don’t know what to expect.
A successful therapist-client relationship is based on trust. The client has to believe that you will relieve their pain. Build trust with your client by using active listening skills.
- What is your experience with professional massage therapy? Find out if your client has ever visited a massage therapist. Ask what they liked and didn’t like about it. If they haven’t, ask them what made them decide to come see you. This is a great time to determine and manage expectations.
- How does your pain affect your daily activities? While pain may be a deciding factor, many clients only seek treatment when their pain starts to limit their abilities. Find out what your massage therapy client wants to see happen in their bodies. Use that as a reference point throughout the treatment process.
Finding the Source
Pain or stress relief is the goal of most massage clients. People with long-term, chronic pain issues may have trouble pinpointing the source. Help them guide you with open-ended questions.
- Where does it hurt? Ask the massage therapy client to physically point out problem areas on their bodies. Ask what it feels like. Do the muscles feel tight and sore? Is it more of a stabbing, radiating pain? Offer descriptive words (hot, sore, numb, tingling) to help the client express themselves.
- What do you do for a living? Ask them about their job. Talk about how they sit, stand, or move. Do they take regular breaks? Do they have access to ergonomically correct seating or tools? Ask about sports and hobbies as well. Knowing what muscles they depend on regularly lets you know what major muscle groups to focus on.
Discovering Treatment Options
Every massage therapy client is different. Ask searching questions to tailor your techniques to their specific needs.
What do you do to address the pain? Ask about exercises, self-massage practices, use of heat or ice, or other methods they use for relief. This will help you develop a long-term treatment plan that corrects underlying structural issues. It will also help you decide what techniques you can use for maximum relief.
At the end of the interview, give your client some time to ask questions. Answer them thoroughly and truthfully.
The client interview is an essential part of creating customized treatment plans for your clients. It is also an ideal time to educate them. Asking the right questions before massage begins brings better results and more client satisfaction.