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May 16th, 2018

Today’s video is all about how we as professional massage therapists should handle the dreaded jokes and requests concerning what’s often referred to as a “happy ending”.

So let’s just get it out there – this crap is going to happen. If you’ve been practicing for a long time and you’ve never once had anyone make reference to this, either seriously or in some pathetic attempt at humor, count yourself very very lucky, because unfortunately that’s rare in this profession. Now, how you handle any of this stuff is going to depend on you and your personality and the exact situation, so none of this is 100% how you HAVE to handle things, but this will hopefully give you a good starting point to figure out what you’re comfortable with and although hopefully you’ll never have to worry about it, you’ll at least have this stuff in your mind to reference should the need arise. But before we get into how to handle it, we have to separate out the ignorant person trying to joke about it and the sincere requests for more than massage.

First, the ones trying to joke or who are just showing their complete lack of knowledge concerning the profession. This can come from a total stranger you meet who finds out that you’re a massage therapist, or even close friends and family. I actually went to massage school with a woman who had to convince her grandmother that she was not in fact going to school to become a prostitute. Go figure. But anyway, many of these jokes and statements are made from a place of ignorance. They sincerely do not even understand that massage is a legitimate profession with training and licensing and regulations and all that good stuff – such as my friend’s grandmother. Their only perception of massage has ever been to correlate it to the sex industry. It sucks, but it’s historical fact that even though massage therapy dates back thousands of years, when authorities started cracking down on prostitution, many took up the front of a massage business in order to hide what they were really doing.

So in the media and in not-so-great parts of towns all over the world, prostitution has long been hidden behind the doors of massage “parlors”. That’s just the world we live in. And many of these people have no other reference of the industry other than this ridiculous portrayal on television and in movies. I mean really, how many times is massage therapy in the news when it’s NOT a massage business front being shut down for prostitution. Not often. So remember, many of these statements and jokes come from a place of ignorance.

Now does that mean we tolerate it and just ignore that kind of crap? Absolutely not! Call it out for what it is! Ignorance. And if they’re not ignorant about it then they’re knowingly stupid enough to think that’s funny. Call them out on it. Educate them. How do you do that? Keep it professional, keep it short, and watch your temper. Don’t let emotions get a hold of you. My go-to response personally, is usually something like “do you ask your doctor or your child’s teacher if they’re a prostitute?” And usually that’s met with a look like I just sprouted another head. To which I respond, “well you just asked me if I’m a hooker, so that’s a no.” I’d then refer them to the sleazy part of town where they can find one of those women on a street corner and follow that up with a quick lesson on human trafficking.

Now, if you have someone on the table who makes a serious request for more than massage, that’s a totally different story. If they try to sneak it in by joking, I’d go with the aforementioned response, but if they just straight up ask for a happy ending or start some inappropriate behavior such as grabbing themselves or something like that, the temper, for me, gets a little less controlled. They don’t deserve professionalism at that point in my opinion. That’s the time to take your hands off of them and make it very clear that they need to leave. Now, while I’m the type to say just throw their clothes in their face and be extremely firm that they need to stop that very second, get dressed, and get the hell out of my office while screaming about the horrors of human trafficking and sex slavery, I also understand that some therapists are not of that personality type and you might very well freeze or otherwise not know exactly how to handle it in a way that’s comfortable for you.

At the very very very least, stop the massage and walk out. Even if you don’t say a word! They’ll get the hint and leave. But I do ask that you at least try to be firm and say something about it. The firmer you can be, the more serious they know you are and the more you solidify that you won’t ever put up with that nonsense, making sure they’ll never come back and word will spread that men, and women for that matter, shouldn’t even try.

So let me tell you a little story here…way back when I was in massage school, I had a client in clinic who worked at the moving company that was right next door to the school. Saw this guy on an almost daily basis. So he comes in, gets his massage, never says or does anything suspicious or out of the way. I finish the massage tell him to get dressed and blah blah blah and I wait…and I wait…and I wait. Finally he emerges from the curtain and I check him out, tell him to have a great day…everything seems fine. Until I go back in to change the linens on the table. So yeah…let’s just keep this PG and say he left something on the linens. And not an accidental something. I went to my instructor who told me to just deal with it and not say anything…yeah…that didn’t work for me. So instead, I did a very not-so-professional thing. I got the linens off the table and proceeded to walk them next door, and throw them down in front of him and his boss and told him “these are yours now”. And I walked back to clinic. Needless to say he no longer worked there the next day – either fired or quit from embarrassment, not sure…don’t really care. Either way, it made it very clear that that wasn’t tolerated.

So I tell you this because every situation is different and every therapist is different, and regardless of what anyone tries to tell you you ‘should’ do in any situation, you don’t know what you’ll do until you’re in that situation. I just hope this gives you some insight and gets your own wheels turning on what to do if you’re ever faced with these kinds of things. If you’ve had to deal with these kinds of creeps, how you did you handle it?

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