massage therapist | photographer

14 things I’ve learned since leaving massage school : #6

In CT, Manchester, Massage, self care, Uncategorized on March 23, 2016 at 12:05 PM

(March 15th marked 14 years since my first day of massage school out in Port Townsend, WA. I spent a little time reflecting on what I’ve learned from having my hands on countless bodies of all different shapes, sizes, and levels of health over the years.  In random order here are some of my observations and things I wish my clients knew.)

#6  I am not a masseuse.

OK well technically, semantically, I am.

Dictionary.com defines masseuse as: “A woman who provides massage as a profession or occupation.”

What some people think masseuse means is better defined by UrbanDictionary.com:

“Generally considered to be a woman who practices massage therapy, however this is a misnomer. A masseuse is a woman who practices massage and has none of the western medical training and is not licensed and may be associated with prostitution. In most states this is illegal.”

Even though I know that it’s likely that most people mean no harm when using the term, I cringe whenever I hear it. I’m not sure if other licensed massage therapists feel this way or if it’s just one of those things I’m sensitive to. Unfortunately, over the course of my career, I’ve had one too many people ask me if a “happy ending massage” was an option, for me to let a word slide by that may be encouraging that kind of mentality. I’ve received repeated offensive phone calls. A few times it’s been necessary to “fire” my clients when their behavior has crossed a line that has made me feel unsafe.

This could be you...

It has been disheartening over the years to have to wonder if that potential new client on the phone is really understanding what a professional therapeutic massage is. My massage school was 17 months long. It included 650 hours of in class instruction and a tremendous amount of out of class time spent not only studying but giving massage to friends / family members in turn for their critique / review which was handed in and reviewed by the school. I had to pass an exam in the state of WA, where I went to school, and in CT so that I could become nationally certified as a Licensed Massage Therapist. In order to maintain my license and insurance I am required to continue my schooling every year, taking continuing education classes on different massage modalities.

I may be a bit sensitive to the way the word masseuse can be used to imply services that are illegal. It may be just because I’ve had some uncomfortable experiences with people. I’m curious to know what you think. Have you ever heard someone mention a masseuse with a wink and a smile? Did you laugh? Feel uncomfortable? Maybe I need to rethink this word that makes me cringe … or maybe it’s cool that I ask you to refer to me as your Massage Therapist.

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