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It’s OK To Be ‘JUST’ a Relaxation Therapist

The other day I had a member reach out and ask me about niching down. She was feeling torn because her heart was in the spa world, she loved relaxation therapies and wholeheartedly believed in the benefits of them, but she felt this pressure that she HAD to offer Deep Tissue or more clinical techniques because “relaxation isn’t a specialty”. Well I’m here to tell you that is a BS claim in our industry and to be honest, I’m kinda tired of it. 

I’m just going to flat out say it…stop shaming therapists who enjoy doing “just” relaxation work – the fluff massages, or the spa services, and things like that. This profession is amazing for a variety of reasons, but one of those is the vast offerings within it! That’s something to celebrate, something to enjoy, something that means every single therapist who leaves massage school can go down a variety of paths to see what fits best for them! Everything from general relaxation massage to sports therapies to manual lymphatic drainage and post-operative care, and everything in between. We are immensely blessed to be in a profession that allows us to really weave in and out of so many scopes and skills and find something that we’re passionate about. But there’s been this shift it seems in the profession, even just in the last 13 years since I went to school, where therapists – especially those who value business ownership within our field – shame or demean those who stick with the relaxation side of things. It’s like if you’re not a clinical practitioner or specializing in some niche modality, then you’re not a “real” massage therapist. You’re “just” a relaxation therapist.  

Let me tell you a little story about a client I had. So, this guy was one of those who got on my nerves here and there, just arrogant and really needed someone to knock him down a peg or two from his pedestal he had set himself on. But he came to me 3 times a week at $100 each visit for months to help him rehab after a knee replacement and some complications from it. He looked at me one day and asked me this… 

”You seem really smart. Why are you just doing this? Why don’t you go back to school and get a real job?”. 

Y’all…I am southern through and through but a stern “bless your heart” just wasn’t going to cut it with this guy, so instead I replied with something like “Well honey, you’ve been paying me $300 a week for a few months now for just a few hours of my time and I have a book full of clients just the same…What “real job” do you think would be better than that pray tell?” He didn’t have an answer of course. 

You see, that kind of arrogance about what someone else does for a living is insulting, to say the least. If a client said something like that to you about what you do, you’d probably be a tad bit upset, right? So why the heck are therapists doing it to each other based on the TYPE of massage they give? Because let me tell you something, I’ve been to therapists when I just wanted a relaxation massage, and God love their little hearts, they could not give a relaxing massage to save their life. The flow was all wrong, the ambience wasn’t there, they kept trying to dig when I didn’t want them to, there was just nothing about it that was what I wanted at that time. There is value in helping someone get away from their stress – there is value in a general muscle tension relieving massage – there is value in luxury spa services – there is value in pure relaxation. 

So if you’re that type of therapist – the kind who really wants to stick to the relaxation stuff, don’t let anyone shame you or make you think it’s any “less” than a bunch of clinical techniques. There is value in both – and therapists for each of those valuable services. Be the therapist YOU want to be and build the business YOU want to build.  

Hey there! I'm a massage therapist, educator, writer, and business pro helping massage therapists around the world build successful businesses. My goal is to give you everything you need to start, run, and grow a profitable massage practice that supports a life you love, all without the headaches I went through learning how to do it myself.

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