Write Your What to Expect…

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Write your “What to expect during your first visit” page.

On this page, explain to your new and current clients what they can expect when they come in for their first visit.

Some people may have never had massage before, and have no idea of the etiquette required at a professional clinic.

Your “what to expect” page should map out what they will experience when they first step foot in your practice.

We’ve included sample text below that you can use as a resource while you create your new page.

A typical massage therapy session is between 40 and 90 minutes (15 to 20 minutes for chair massage). Your massage will begin with a brief consultation and review of symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle.

Step 1: Pre-Session: Consultation

During your first exam, your massage therapist will spend time getting to know you and your health concerns. You may be asked a wide range of questions about your symptoms, eating, exercise, sleep habits, emotional states and anything that may offer insight into your health.

Typical consultation intake form should include at the minimum:

  • A Medical History and Questionnaire – the medical questions should cover physical contraindications to massage include infectious diseases, blood clotting issues or recent surgeries and injuries.
  • Client Personal Information – Name, address, phone number and email if available are all tools therapists can use to keep in touch.
  • Bodywork Session Goals – This is important for a massage therapist to cover, as it will help the therapist design the bodywork session to cover the client’s desires, give both a starting place for dialog, and help the client explain what areas of the body are of greatest concern.
  • Disclaimer for Therapist Policy Information – This is usually at the bottom of the intake form or located on a separate sheet of paper. It commonly explains that the therapist is not a doctor and will not diagnose illnesses or prescribe medicine. This is also a good place for a disclaimer regarding inappropriate sexual conduct.

Review client expectations during the massage

Step 2: During Session: Prepare For Massage

After your consultation, your massage therapist will then take you to a treatment room where a comfortable massage table dressed with clean sheets awaits. A small shelf for your personal belongings and a chair are also provided for your use. Your massage therapist will leave the room and wait outside while you disrobe to your level of comfort. The massage etiquette varies for patients. Some patients prefer to completely disrobe, while some will remain partially clothed. Either option is fine. Once disrobed, you will lie on the massage table, under the top sheet. Your massage therapist will give you a few minutes for this process and will knock on the door to ask if you are ready before entering your room. The therapist will adjust the face rest and pillows to ensure that you are comfortable and properly positioned for the session. Tell the massage therapist if you are too warm or cold.

You will always be draped with the top sheet during your massage session and an additional blanket is available at your request. The etiquette your massage therapist will follow is to only uncover the part of the body they are working on, ensuring that your personal space is respected at all times. The massage therapist will use a light oil or lotion on the skin and begins the massage. Areas massaged will be dependent on the course of treatment.

You should expect a peaceful and comfortable environment during your massage. The massage table is padded and a blanket is placed beneath the sheet, which you can have adjusted to your preference. There will be relaxing music playing, unless you request otherwise, and the room should be quiet, with no outside distractions.
After the massage, the massage therapist leaves the room so you can get changed.

Take your time getting up. If you sit or stand too quickly you may feel lightheaded or dizzy due to the massage lowering blood pressure.

Drink extra water after a massage to help flush out the toxins released during the massage.

Allow for some open, quiet time after your massage session if possible. Sometimes one needs a little time to integrate or absorb the results of the massage session or may need some “re-entry” time.

Step 3 Post Session: Next Steps And Treatment Plan

The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so talk with your massage therapist about a recommended treatment plan to meet your health and wellness goals for the next session. The patient and the therapist will then schedule the next appointment.

Massage therapy is known as a casual, peaceful, Zen-like experience. The actual massage from a professional massage therapist is at the top of list of what you are expecting to receive, however, there are number of other considerations that a massage client should do and expect in order to maximize the full effect of the massage and “the experience”. In your first massage session, you should expect the massage therapist to present themselves as a knowledgeable professional at all times. Clients expect the massage therapist to be able to talk directly with the patient, assess their needs (“evaluation”), and implement a “plan-of-action” to rehabilitate the mind, body, and soul. Your first massage experience is important by laying the foundation while beginning a relationship with your massage therapist. You should be forthright with your massage therapist so that he/she understands your needs and problems.   Below highlights specific areas on what to expect at your first massage experience.

Preliminary Assessment – “The Evaluation”

  • Your massage therapist will ask preliminary questions to determine your overall health and your health and wellness goals.
  • The massage therapist will consider information about your physical condition, medical history, lifestyle, stress levels, medications and any areas of physical pain that could affect your massage therapy outcome.
  • This information will help the massage therapist structure the session to achieve your health and wellness goals.


  • Before your massage, you’ll be asked to remove clothing to your level of comfort.
  • The therapist will leave the room while you undress and remove any jewelry or other articles that might interfere with the massage. Take off only as much as you are comfortable removing.
  • Lie on the massage table, underneath the provided sheet or towel, which will cover your body except for the part being massaged.
  • Chair massages, which often are offered in public spaces and workplaces, are an exception. A specially-designed massage chair lets you lean forward and supports the front of the body. You remain clothed and no oil or lotion is used. Seated massages typically last from 10 to 30 minutes.


  • Music might be played during your massage session. If you find music distracting, let your massage therapist know. The same goes for talking during your session.
  • Your massage therapists should check on pressure and comfort throughout your session. If you’re uncomfortable at any time, tell your massage therapist.
  • The massage table is padded, and may have extra attachments or cushions, such as a face cradle, which allows you to lie face-down without turning your head or neck.

Massage Therapy

  • Massage therapists often use oil or lotion, which reduces drag on the skin during massage. If you’re allergic to oils or lotions, tell your massage therapist beforehand.
  • If you’re receiving a hot stone massage, make sure you’re comfortable with the temperature of the stones.
  • Depending on your needs, the massage therapist will massage either the full body (except private areas) or only specific areas that need attention, such as especially tight muscles.
  • Remember to breathe normally.
  • Table massage usually lasts between 30 and 90 minutes.
  • After your massage, the massage therapist will allow you to slowly get up and get dressed in privacy. Usually your massage therapist will offer you water after you’re dressed.
  • Depending on the environment, tips are appreciated to recognize outstanding service, but not required.

Follow Up – The “Plan-of-action”

The therapeutic effects of massage are cumulative, so work with your massage therapist to develop a custom plan to meet your health and wellness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Will My Massage or Bodywork Session Take Place?
Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable, and quiet location. Soft, tranquil music may be played to help you get in the right frame of mind. You will lie on a table especially designed for massaging and for comfort.

Who Will Perform the Massage or Bodywork?

If you have located your massage therapist through a referral or by performing a web search, be sure your session will be conducted by a professional licensed massage therapist who has received proper training. Ask about their membership to massage associations, such as, Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), National Association of Massage Therapists (NAMT), or American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). As a condition of membership, these associations verifies the training and credentials of every one of its practitioners. Some massage and bodywork practitioners are licensed by the state, while others are locally regulated. Although no two massages are exactly alike, you may request a certain technique or modality. You may also request your preference of a male or female therapist.

Must I Be Completely Undressed?
Most massage and bodywork techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. You should undress to your level of comfort. You will be properly draped during the entire session.

Will the Practitioner Be Present When I Disrobe?

The practitioner will leave the room while you undress, relax onto the table, and cover yourself with a clean sheet or towel.

Will I Be Covered During the Session?
You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable. Only the area being worked on will be exposed.

What Parts of My Body Will Be Massaged?

You and the practitioner will discuss the desired outcome of your session. This will determine which parts of your body require massage. A typical full body session will include work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck, and shoulders. You will not be touched on or near your genitals (male or female) or breasts (female).

What Will the Massage or Bodywork Feel Like?
It depends on the techniques used. Many massage therapists use a form of Swedish massage, which is often a baseline for practitioners. In a general Swedish massage, your session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help calm your nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension. As your body becomes relaxed, pressure will gradually be increased to relax specific areas and relieve areas of muscular tension. Often, a light oil or lotion is used to allow your muscles to be massaged without causing excessive friction to the skin. The oil also helps hydrate your skin. You should communicate immediately if you feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massage and bodywork are most effective when your body is not resisting.

Are There Different Kinds of Massage and Bodywork?
There are numerous types of massage and bodywork; various techniques utilize different strokes, including basic rubbing strokes, rocking movement, posture and movement re-education, application of pressure to specific points, and more. Ask the practitioner about the methods he or she uses.

How Long Will the Session Last?
The average full-body massage or bodywork session lasts approximately one hour. A half-hour appointment only allows time for a partial massage session, such as neck and shoulders, back or legs and feet. Many people prefer a 60- to 90-minute session for optimal relaxation. Always allow relaxation time prior to and after the session. Hot tubs, steam baths and saunas can assist in the relaxation process.

What Should I Do During the Massage or Bodywork Session?
Prior to the massage, feel free to ask the practitioner any questions about the technique or the upcoming session. During the massage, make yourself comfortable. The practitioner will either gently move you or tell you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Many people just close their eyes and completely relax, communicating if/when they need more or less pressure, another blanket, or anything else relevant to the session. If you have any questions regarding the session or about the particular technique you are receiving, feel free to ask the practitioner.

How Will I Feel After the Massage or Bodywork Session?
Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity which can last for days.

What Are the Benefits of Massage and Bodywork?
Massage and bodywork can help release chronic muscular tension and pain, improve circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress, promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture, and reduce blood pressure. Massage and bodywork is also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration, reduce anxiety and create an overall sense of well-being. Go here to see more details on the benefits of massage – www.massagetherapy.com/learnmore/benefits.php .

Are There Any Medical Conditions That Would Make Massage or Bodywork Inadvisable?
Yes. That’s why it’s imperative that, before you begin your session, the practitioner asks general health questions. It is very important that you inform the practitioner of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor’s care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to any session. Your practitioner may require a recommendation or approval from your doctor.

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