It is about more than just the research

Report on the International Massage Therapy Research Conference 2016If you thought the focus of the International Massage Therapy Research Conference would be just about research, you would be missing the whole picture.  What the conference (and the Massage Therapy Foundation) is about is more than just the research.

It is about the few people who are standing up for the massage profession to move us forward into being accepted as health care providers.

Did you know that more and more hospitals are integrating massage into their treatment plans for all sorts of situations?  Pediatric care, cancer care, pain and headache clinics and more.   The Mayo Clinic even has a training program for their massage therapists to go through before they go to work in the hospital in the massage department.  where they give massage post heart surgery even.  It dawned on me later that the Mayo Clinic is in MN which is one of the last of the unlicensed states which I find very interesting.   Why were they able to implement this in a state where massage is not even recognized as anything?   It is because people like Dr. Brent Bauer (see bio on the Massage Therapy Foundation website) and Liz Dion, BCTMN, COMT are standing up for us and making this happen despite all the things holding us back as a profession like licensing.

Did you know that there is a massage therapist who has been working in the Veterans Association for over 15 years providing massage therapy for our wounded soldiers?  Allison R. Mitchenson, MPH, NCBTMB is doing just that.  (Allison is the author of Integrating massage therapy within the palliative care of veterans with advanced illnesses:  An outcome study)  How was the big question – how did she ‘sneak’ in with all the red tape required to work for the VA?  They don’t even have a job description for massage therapists which is the first big hurdle and she said they were working on it.

Did you know that there are school programs designed specifically to teach you how to work in a hospital setting?  Brent Jackson with Central Carolina Technical Institute has done just that.

Did you know that there are a group of massage therapists who are working on creating our Best Practices, Body of Knowledge and helping to create definitions for the massage profession on what we do?  (If we can’t define ourselves – how will we tell the medical profession what it is that we do?)

Best Practices refers to the best way of doing something. We need to figure out what is the best way of doing things with the patient/client in mind.

Part of our work toward getting accepted by the medical profession is working to ‘get the camels nose under the tent and the rest will follow’ as Dr Chester ‘Trip’ Buckenmaier III, exclaimed in the panel presentation on Saturday.  Once the camel gets their nose under, it will open the door further for bigger things to happen.  Once we get more massage therapists hands on people, there will be no stopping us.   ‘Trip’ also recommends that we “Stop saying Alternative.   We give permission to the establishment to ignore us.”  We want to be mainstream.

“Medicine is not a science, it is empiricism founded on a network of blunders.” ~Emmet Densmore ( 1837-1911). It’s a blunder not to have massage as a routine part of American medicine.

“To get there we also have to stop trying to destroy something that you want to be a part of” according to Brent Jackson Brent Jackson, BS, LMT, LMT and academic program manager for massage therapy at Central Carolina Technical College.  The CCTC program includes hospital based massage therapy.  “Why don’t doctors want to refer to massage therapists?  Because it is a crap shoot as to who they will get.”   Our education needs to start including more information on how to work with doctors and hospitals and Brent is leading the way for more school programs.  We need more training in healthcare laws and learn to keep quite and stop attacking the establishment in to start the revolution.

Oh and yes, there are many people working on the research part and No I still don’t understand research.  I don’t know what all the charts and data mean most of the time.  I don’t know how to analyze research even though I have taken a few classes on how to do that.  I am just not interested in it and don’t get it since it seems that everyone has their own analysis.

Was the big meta-analysis study that was sponsored by AMTA/Massage Therapy Foundation and the Samulei Institute ‘good research’?  The Facebook discussions on this are questioning this and I just try to stay out of it and don’t understand it and frankly don’t care anymore.  Here is information on the study that I haven’t read yet…but plan to.

The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations—A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part I, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population
Full research database here.

Commentary and Call to Action

What is important is that The Samueli institute has opened doors for the profession to Department of Defense and National Institute of Health and our relationship with them is a beginning.

That was just from the one day – Saturday- that I attended.   My other duties kept be from being there on Friday and Sunday which I now wish I had attended.  My overall impression is that this is the association that you want to be supporting.  This is the one conference that you will want to attend if you have hope for the massage profession and want to keep moving it forward into healthcare which is one of my passions.  They are doing so much more than just research.   These researchers/leaders are moving us forward not only with their research but with what they are doing.  They are taking a stand for the massage profession to help make it great again!   The Revolution has already begun.

Yes the medical system and healthcare system are broken and dysfunctional, but massage therapy does have a place there despite that.  I see massage therapy becoming the main treatment method for what ails us – pain, stress, depression, anxiety and more.  This is the Association that will help make that so.

Thank you to ALL!


NCBTMB – Oh boy

First Letter to NCBTMB (just sent a few minutes ago…awaiting response):

To NCBTMB Board of Directors
Leena Guptha, Bruce Baltz, Jill Berkana, Veronica Stern, Brenda Jeanne Baker, Teresa M. Matthews, Michael McGillicuddy

I just read your announcement on your new specialty certification on your website and I have many questions.

How does this help the profession by certifying ONE School?

Two other school owners mentioned on Facebook that they would be doing the same – I am not sure if that meant they are adopting the same program or doing a certification of their own.

Last I heard from a few leaders in the massage profession, NCBTMB was to work on specialty certifications for like a modality – sports massage, injury treatments etc. What has happened to that?

Are you planning on certifying more schools in a specific type of massage or specialty or are you going to work on a separate specialty certifications?

Right now NCBTMB has a very big image problem and your recent launch did not help since it was lacking in any clear communication about what this really is, what it means for the massage profession and WHY you are doing this. Your past track record has not been forgotten and too many massage therapists see your organization only as a way to take money from unknowing therapists (the old national certification trap).

I thought you were on the right track with creating a Board Certification and would think you have enough to do with that since the public, medical professionals, insurance companies do not know who you are or what it means and it has no meaning to anyone. But again, I was initially against it as you had not really clarified what it was about or the meaning it has. A massage school teacher later explained it to me saying that doctors, hospitals and insurance companies would recognize a Board Certification More because they are familiar with that terminology with doctors and it would give us a better standing in that arena which is what we truly need as we are getting eaten for dinner by insurance companies right now especially in WA State  where I have worked as a massage therapist for over 28 years. If that is true, you may just want to focus your efforts on building your reputation and sharing the meaning of such a certification with insurance companies and hospitals and medical professionals. You might want to focus on repairing your reputation with massage therapists too.

I hope you can explain your motives for this type of certification and why you are doing this? What meaning does it have for massage therapists? How will it help us survive and thrive as a profession? Are other schools doing this? Why? How will it help them? How will it help the profession – the massage therapists working day in and day out – who are mostly struggling to make ends meet.

Right now it just looks like your board members/staff are creating this for their own schools which would be a real conflict of interest, but I am assuming there is more to it than that and hope you can clarify.

I await your reply and hope that this gets into the hands of all the board members.

Thanks very much
Julie Onofrio


After writing the letter, I did get a little bit more info from asking questions and reading in a few Facebook forums.  There will be more schools applying for this certification which means creating programs and courses in their schools to fulfill the requirements – whatever they are.  I do know that the schools are also struggling to get students and the demand for graduates is higher than the number of graduates looking for jobs.  There has been continuing debate over the cause of this  – is it because the schools have fallen behind?  Is it that the pay is so low for entry level therapists that no one wants to be a massage therapist anymore?  Is it that the growth years for the massage profession has finally taken it’s toll?

The problem then is still  – what does this mean?  What will it mean to doctors and hospitals?   How will they get this info into the medical professionals hands and have it mean something?  This really has been the problem with the NCBTMB from the very beginning.

The NCBTMB started with the so called “National Certification Exam” which really was not National – it did little to help massage therapists move from state to state as far as I know.   Healthcare providers and hospitals had little knowledge of what it was or what it meant.  A few employers used to require that their employees be Nationally Certified but to me that is meaningless.

The struggles with the NCBTMB have continued through the years as they lost their footing (an the majority of their income) when the MBLEx exam was created by the Federation of Massage State Boards.

Now they are trying to recover and survive.  The Battle over CE continues also.  They have been the only organization credentialing CE providers but the Federation of Massage State Boards wants to take that over too.  The most recent announcement is that they would work together on overseeing CE.

I was also just looking to find the NCBTMB’s financial status through Guidestar (create free login to view this info) but they have not reported yet on 2015 which is normal and I could only find data from 2014 when they were still getting money from national exams.

Assets: $1,514,402
Income: $2,753,795
Expenses: $2,836,940
Liabilities: $412,466
Their income was broken down  like this on their form 990 from 2014:
 Exam: $1,512,547
Re-certification: $676,880
Approved Provider: $472,940
Expenses as follows:
Testing : $628,757
Background checks: $210,305
Legal: $137,684

Office Space: $106,626

Lenna Guptha, Chair, compensation: $49,800

Steve Kirin, CEO, compensation: $152,709
Most of the money came and went for the exams from what it looks like.  I am wondering what their financial status is now.  Will they have the money to sustain this new program and their current Board Certification in the coming years?  What are they doing to get the word out to the public that their requirements and credentials have any meaning to the medical professionals and general public?
I have many other concerns too.  Massage therapists are already being trained in things like this at schools and through CE courses and they are working at hospitals and in medical environments.   In WA State we are accepted by the health insurance community but it was because of ‘the every category law” that makes it mandatory that health insurance cover massage.

The terminology for this specialty “Integrative” is also interesting.   Integrative is now being used instead of the word complementary.   Complementary, Integrative , Alternative all indicate something that is not mainstream.  What about being just part of mainstream health care – not complementary…not alternative… not integrative but a separate branch of medicine?  See:  Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name? from the National Institute of Complementary and Integrative Health (formerly National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

Also just to be clear – this is not an attack or commentary on the actual program that is being offered at Central Carolina Technical College (CCTC).  I know it is great and a lot of time and energy went into the program and making this all happen.   Kudos to Brent Jackson for it’s creation and implementation.  I just wonder what effect it will have on the future of the massage profession.  I hope I am wrong in thinking that it is meaningless to have this certification and the NCBTMB will do something to make this have some meaning in the healthcare profession and to the general public.

 For more info on the NCBTMB from Laura Allen .
Where should CE go in the massage profession – White Paper by Rick Rosen.  See Continuing Education in the Massage Therapy Field: Proposal for an Alternative to State and National Regulation

AMTA National Elections – What you don’t know.

Vote NOAMTA NationalSlate-1-1

Today AMTA National announced their selections for their annual election.  Last summer they had changed they way members vote to a YES or NO vote for the panel that AMTA National Board members select themselves.  AMTA created a commission to choose the board members that they want to work with.  This is a common practice for boards in general, but it is not common for boards of associations that say that they are ‘member driven’.  They seemed to change this quietly without much fanfare but to me it really seems like a big deal.

It seems to me that AMTA is more committed to have a nice board that doesn’t rock the boat than addressing the difficult tasks of ensuring massage is a part of healthcare, through CPT codes that include massage therapy as practiced, and through inclusion on insurance panels.” They would easily argue that it is in their strategic plan to work towards massage as healthcare, but they are not doing what we know will make that a functional reality. that is more the issue.

AMTA also stated some of the reasons why they were moving to this type of voting at their last meeting in August.  Some of the things mentioned were:

  • Not enough people vote so that tells us the membership is happy with the way we do things
  •  It is too expensive to hold elections, a slate would save us money
  • A slate would prevent any insurgency from taking over
  • A slate would prevent one State from taking over
  • We want to ensure a board who gets along
  • We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings which is what happens when you have an election where there are winners and losers
  • If people vote down the slate we will just know what they are dissatisfied with
  • We are not set up for asking what they didn’t like about the slate selected, we will just try another slate

But here is the thing you don’t know….

You don’t know who had put their application in for each position that was open and you don’t know who actually got kicked out.

Diana Thompson, author of Hands Heal, Documentation and SOAP charting expert, former President of the Massage Therapy Foundation, current AMTA-WA 2nd VP and a pillar in the massage community here in WA and across the nation for over 35 years had put her application in to run for a position and was denied.   She stands for everything about massage therapy becoming part of health care and massage therapy being accepted by health insurance and getting recognized by the medical profession.

Teri Mayo, the current AMTA-WA 1st VP, owner of Mayo Therapy Associates Medical Massage Clinic, and advocate for medical massage therapy was also running and she was denied a position.

Glyn Desmond, also of WA State, owner of Monroe Therapeutic Massage (a large multi-clinic medical massage office)  IS currently on the Board of Directors but he just got nicely fired with his term being up in 2/16 meaning he was not selected for this new slate.  In the spring of 2015, he was also appointed to a committee that dealt with creating new CPT codes after they so nicely let Susan Rosen (another leader from WA State) go after she had spent the last 9 years in the committee protecting our right to use the new CPT codes. (See article on what happened)   Now I am really concerned. Who is watching over the codes for us that are such vital part of our profession here in WA and across the nation?

These three leaders from WA State were  and the message is clear to me: AMTA National wants nothing to do with being a part of healthcare.   They don’t value the importance of the CPT codes and the future of the massage profession.

Vote NO if you are an AMTA member and demand something better.  If Diana, Teri and Glyn, don’t get back into AMTA National, there really is not much left except a great social club which is important too.

I in no way am saying that those who were selected are not deserving of recognition and deserving of these positions.  There were just much better, more powerful, more progressive thinking massage therapists who wanted to help get AMTA National back on track.  There just is truly something amiss.

Right now the massage profession is in a very big crisis.   Too many low paying jobs have made this career less appealing and the schools are struggling to find students to fill their schools.  The incredible increase in the number of franchises opening up, but they are unable to find enough massage therapists to work there.   With our profession struggling to stay afloat and all of the states are 20 years behind WA State in being accepted by health insurance – something is wrong.  (See also: Why is the massage profession so far behind in getting recognized as healthcare?)

I am not saying that every massage therapist will need to accept insurance, but for years now I have been leading a quite revolution with a closed Facebook group helping people who do want to be able to bill and get paid by health insurance.  This includes many hospital programs and massage business owners who want to see massage paid for and recognized for what it is.  Massage Therapy is medicine.  Could it one day be the number one treatment for headaches, pain, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel and more?  I think so.

What you can do.

If you are an AMTA Member, please vote NO.  They apparently don’t have a plan if the slate is rejected so that will be interesting in itself.   Write to Every AMTA Board Member and voice your concerns.   Tell them what you do want.

Join my closed Facebook group to work toward health care integration.

Learn to bill insurance : health insurance, car insurance and workers compensation.  I have written a book to teach you how insurance works so you can start learning the process and learning what you need to do to get paid.

Just Say NO……  HELL No….


In all clarity:  I AM NOT an AMTA member and probably will never be because of things just like this.  I was a member and did get involved in the AMTA-WA Chapter for a few years and could see that they were different than National. I personally never liked the AMTA National Politics and Positions they took ever since they started the NCBTMB which was supposed to be an entrance exam for AMTA and not this National thing which was never a true National License.

Why do I care about this as a non-member?  About 5 years ago, I went to AMTA-WA and asked every person I could find about what we could do about falling insurance reimbursement rates.  I never did get an answer except if that we could do something we would be doing it.   I did get involved for a few years and even was hired for a short time to work on their new website.  In the few short years of me volunteering, I have seen too much politics and downright BS.  I have since dropped my membership and still support what AMTA-WA is doing.

Money Autobiography

Writing an money autobiography is one of the first steps in getting out of debt and becoming more conscious of your beliefs about money. The amount of money you have or don’t have in your life currently is a reflection of your beliefs about money that were formed in the past. How your family talked about money and how they taught you about money is carried into your own life whether you are conscious of it or not.

Begin with your early childhood even if you don’t remember much.

1) What is your first memory of money?

2) Who handled the money in your family?

3) What did your parents do to earn money?

4) What do you remember about how your family made large purchases?

5) What is your earliest happiest moment around money?

6) What is your earliest unhappy memory around money?

7) How did your family communicate about money?

8) Was money ever discussed in your family?

9) Did you ever steal from your parents or siblings or other family members as a child?

10) How much money did your family have compared to your childhood friends?

11) Did you get an allowance?

12) How did your parents respond when you asked for something?

13) When did you begin saving money?

14) Did your parents trust you to go to the store to buy something?

15) At what age did you start working?

16) Did you have to start working or did you want to start working?

17) Did anyone help you decide on a career based on how much money you wanted to make?

18) What messages did you get from your parents about career, earning money and spending money?

19)Did you save and plan for college?

20) What is your view on money and dating? Who should pay for dates?

21) When did you get your first credit card? What were your feelings about it? When did you start using a credit card?

22) What kinds of things do you buy on your credit card? Do you ever by groceries or necessities? Do you make big purchases like cars, appliance or other expensive things with your credit card?

23) How do you feel about using Credit cards?

24) Do you know what interest rate you are paying and how much you owe?

25) Do you have any money secrets that you have never told anyone about?

26) Do you talk to your friends and family about money – how much you have or don’t have, how much you make or how much they have and make?

27) How much money would you like to be making? What feelings does that bring up for you?

28) What do you feel when you see someone driving a Mercedes or Bentley or living in a big mansion? What do you think about people who have a lot of money?

29) How do you feel about spending money on yourself?

30) How do you feel about your living space and how it represents you?

31) Do you know how much money you have right now? Do you know how much you owe right now?

While there are plenty more questions to ask yourself about money, I’ll stop there and let you start answering these questions. You can answer them specifically or use them to write a story about money and your life. When you can uncover some of the feelings that you have about money, you can then begin to change the feelings. Becoming aware is the key to changing anything. Once you write your money autobiography you can then begin tracking your income and expenses to get a better idea of where your money is going and start thinking more about what it is that you want to do with your money.

Protecting Yourself From Scams

I have been wanting to write this post for about a year after many massage therapists found themselves a victim of a scam, fraud and identity theft last year.

How do you know if you are buying something from someone who is an honest person?

How do you know if someone will just take your credit card and keep charging it for goods not received or use it to buy other things for themselves?

How do you keep yourself safe from the many online scams and scammers trying to take advantage of you online especially?

Think and investigate before you leap into a purchase.  Just because someone has a website and a Facebook/Twitter account to go along with it does not make them legit.   Here are some things to look for:

  1. First up, the person will clearly identify themselves and have pictures of themselves on the about page of the website.   If they don’t say who they are, ask them.  If they don’t want to tell you be skeptical.  If they are not up front, they usually have something to hide.
  2. Check the listing for the domain to see if their name matches who owns the domain.  We do have domain privacy now so that is not always an indicator.  Domain privacy helps today because so many scammers will start contacting you because of your public domain listing.
  3. If they have a Facebook page, check to see if they are a real person. Often scammers will use stock photos and will also steal photos from other places online.  You can take a photo and put it into Google Images and check to see where else it shows up on the internet.
    Google Image Search

     Choose a Search Option :
    – Paste Image URL when you have the url of the picture

    –  Upload an image (First Download image and save to your computer from Facebook profile or Website) and upload image in question.

    Click Search and look at Results

  4.  Be suspicious of unknown people who just start following you or request Friend status.
  5. Be suspicious of emails sent to you from unknown sources.  (A recent scammer started hitting on massage therapists to sell soap.)
  6. Check their Facebook profiles/pages.  A reputable business owner with a Business Facebook page, will have show their personal profile in the About tab on the Facebook Timeline.
  7. Look to see who their friends are on Facebook.  Look and see what pages they have liked.  Check to see what Groups they belong too – if they belong to groups like Get More Friends, 1000 likes in one day, etc

What to do?

  • File a complaint with the Internet Crime Division :
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission
  • File a complaint with your Local Attorney Generals Office
  • Call your local police department if they are local.


Teach Couples Massage Classes

Teaching couples massage classes is a great way to make extra money while also reducing the stress on your body.  It is also a great way to get people touching each other more.  I recently just taught my first individual class and I have to say it was one of the funnest (is that a word?)  things I have done in a long time in my career.

I have always thought that it was sad that touch is being lost so much in the world and when I have studied the history of massage and how massage was always a big part of various communities with things like women in the family teaching their sons how to do massage so they could massage their pregnant wives now being lost to expensive massage services.   I have also always thought that it was such a weird thing to charge money for when massage should really be done on each other.  I have always thought it was such a strange thing that people so willingly jump on the massage table to be touched by complete strangers.   Since massage school in 1987, I always thought that if everyone got a massage once a day that there would be world peace.  Well I have been trying to make a dent in getting more people to experience touch,  I am realizing that teaching massage to couples and others who want to learn is going to be a better way to approach this.   Anyone can really do a massage.

I started with teaching massage to others right from the beginning of my career but it was always for community groups for free or for a regular client who was in dire need and wanted some family member to know more so that they could be helped in between sessions.  I also have taught some mothers how to massage their kids, but it was always just a complementary service mainly for really regular lifetime clients.

Start a class for a church group or a sports team or care givers of people who are sick or some special population.

So when Gary and Tiffany Blackden, who are fellow massage therapists who I found because of our love of using Site Build it! to create websites, put together and ebook on how to teach a class to couples and others, I became hooked!    I put together a page for my office website and because my website gets such high traffic (about 200 people a day) it was easy to get my first class participants.  After I taught the class, I was really shocked to see how fun it was and to see how well people really catch on.  It was a very rewarding experience, much more so than even just doing a massage in my experience.   So I was wanting to know more and learn more and got the opportunity to assist in a couples class with one of the local experts – Joe Levine of .   He had 3 – 3 hour workshops set up on a Saturday (and every Saturday!) for 6-7 couples at a time!   He did it a little different and actually taught the women how to do more of a lomi lomi massage or mainly to just use their forearms and apply more pressure to the guys.  I thought he was crazy at first, but it really worked out.  In general, the women are not able to give deeper pressure.  When it came time to teach the men how to massage, he taught them more of a Western style Swedish Massage technique which again worked out great.  He also got out some hot stones and had people just hold them in their hands and use a little on the back.

So really, you will have to figure out what you will be teaching people based on the skills you know and find out what is easiest for people to pick up and learn.

This can go way beyond just couples massage.   It can be for friends, family members, massage for mom/dad.  It can be massage for people with cancer if you are skilled in working with cancer patients.  It can be massage for people with fibromyalgia or other diseases and conditions that you work with.   It can be a specific area of the body- back massage, foot massage, head massage.   Think about teaching regular self massage classes also like specific classes for headaches or carpal tunnel or something for a lunch time event or after work happy hour type of thing or even in an open house event.  You can do classes with seated massage just using a conference room with chairs and a table and use pillows to sit people upright.

So  Start with the Ebook/DVD from Gary and Tiffany Blackden .  Start with teaching classes to just one couple at a time.  That might even just be enough for you to help get your schedule filled.   When you get a couple in for a two or three hour class and just charge your regular hourly rate, it can be a good way to fill up your time faster.   If and when you want to move to classes with multiple participants you will need to have some of these things in place:

  • Check to also see if you need extra liability insurance.
  • Have class handouts on the things you talked about in the class.
  • Create a new intake form that is geared toward the couples.
  • Have a way to follow up with people who take the class.  I had people fill out a large body chart and kept it and then wrote some notes on it for each person to remember when they worked on the other person and mailed it a few days later after the class.  I also included a $10 off coupon for a massage with me that they could use or give to anyone.
  • Sell the workshop through gift certificates – especially for Valentines Day, Christmas, Birthdays and Anniversaries.

Some of the issues that I can see already are simple things like getting them undressed and dressed and on the table in the group setting.  You will have to get creative with that.  In the class I saw, they just had the women step out of the room and all the women were left to get undressed and on the table.  You also may get some people who just don’t want to be there.  Sometimes it is just one person who really wants the other to come in and learn so that they can massage them!  Some people are also very awkward with their hands and bodies.  You might just have to spend extra time with them or just leave them on their own.   In the end, they will get as much out of it as they can.  Another thing to deal with is couples becoming more romantic with each other.  You will have to deal with that with each unique situation.  Mostly it is really harmless, but I did see a discussion on Facebook of someone saying a couple was engaged in really romantic relations in between sessions.   This is just an FYI to know about what might happen.

So here are the basic steps you will need to take:

  • Read the couples massage ebook and watch the DVD
  • Create a plan for your class.  You will need an intake form, handouts, oil/lotion samples/supplies, sheets or decide if you want them to bring them, massage tables, a way to make a table on the floor to show them until they get a table.
  • Create a page on your website about the class.  Have a way for them to buy it in a gift certificate or direct instructions on how to schedule the class.
  • Create a marketing plan for your class.
  • Teach a few individual massage classes or as many as you need to feel comfortable and work your way up to a few couples or a large group.
  • To get a large group, this is where groupon or works best.  You can increase the price of the class and then sell it at the discounted rate through these services and get your classes filled.
  • Create a mailing list or a members only section on your website where people can get more handouts or watch videos.
  • Sell the couples massage video on your website through the affiliate program and make extra money.
  • Sell massage tables, lotions, oils, bolsters on your website through affiliate programs and make additional income while you teach the classes. is best for this.  You can sign up to become an associate for free and they will help you create the links to put on your site.  When people buy through the links, you get paid.  You will also need to create a policy page and follow their rules for being an affiliate.  You need to put up an FTC policy that says that you make money through affiliate programs and list them but also says you need to add a special disclaimer to your site.  (I have to find that exact info.!)


How to Start and run a Mobile Massage Business

A Mobile massage business is a type of massage business that goes out to people’s homes, hotels or other such facilities to bring massage to the massage client!  It can be just about anywhere – a party for weddings, going into senior facilities, going into offices or companies where people need massage.  I have even heard of massage therapists going into casinos and bars!

It is a bit different than having your own office or renting your own space from someone in that you are taking a bit more risk with going into places to give a massage.  The first thing to decide is whether you really want to have a mobile massage business or are you just doing this because you think you can’t open an office or rent a space?  From what I have seen in the massage profession, it often tends to be that massage therapists open this sort of business so they won’t have overhead and won’t need to commit to an office space and rent.   If you are doing that just to start out and you hope to eventually have a space – that works too.  There are also ways to start at an office space that are inexpensive to help you while you grow your business like renting from another practitioner, renting by the hour.

Risks of Being a Mobile Massage Business

As a mobile massage business owner,  you will be taking safety risks everyday of going into strangers homes.  There are not any ways to really screen these people to know what you are getting into.

There are some things you can do to make it safer, but there is still the risk.  The first thing is to have a system set up where you let someone know where you are going at all times and let them know when you are due to be back or to your next appointment and tell them you will contact them after each appointment to let someone know you are OK.  If you are going into a hotel regularly, you can make arrangements with security there too to let them know you are in the building.  You can also work with the concierge or front desk people to make them aware of your whereabouts too.

You can also find things like alarm systems that you can trigger to let someone know if you get into trouble.

You will also have more travel time and depending on your city – you may be stuck in traffic often that will make it necessary to schedule more time in between sessions or you will be late too often.  Scheduling more time in between sessions means your bottom line profits are reduced because you are spending more time traveling and not doing massage.  That is why most mobile massage therapists also charge more for their travel time.

Mobile Massage Therapist Business Plans

A business plan for a Mobile Massage Therapist is basically the same as for other types of massage businesses.   See also: Massage Business Plans

You will need to do a market study and find out if there is a need for this in your community.  You can also be looking for specific areas in your community that might have a higher demand like a retirement community or  a co-housing community.   There also might be large housing development communities with higher priced houses which might be  a good target market.

You will need to figure out what equipment you will need and figure out if your vehicle will be able to do the job of hauling your equipment.   You will need to haul:

  • Massage Table
  • Massage Table Carrier
  • Supplies – Sheets, pillows, lotions/oils etc
  • Clock
  • Music – MP3 Player or other device

Just like any other business, you will need a marketing plan.  How will these people find you? Start with a Website that gets found for the keywords – massage your city – because many people will not even realize that massage therapists do come out to your home.  If you are in a tourist area or seasonal sports area where there is probably a higher demand for mobile massage therapists, they will need to find you in a search on Google or Bing.   You can learn how to do that in my Ebook –  Get More Massage Clients with a Website that Works!

Having a good referral network will also help.  Figure out a way for people to tell their neighbors when you will be in their neighborhood!  Making the most of your time will be important in this niche.   You can post things on your website or use Social media tools like Facebook/Twitter to announce the areas you will be in on what days – sort of like the food trucks do!


Nothing is Private on Facebook

Your Facebook profile and anything you say on Facebook really is open to exposure by the public no matter how you have your privacy settings.   This is true especially if you are posting using your personal profile on the many massage discussion groups/pages on Facebook.   For example:  My Fan Page for this site is .  For awhile I used to allow massage therapists to ask questions and I would copy and paste their question including their name on my page so everyone could see it and answer it.   I also have asked many thought provoking and challenging questions and many have responded to those posts.   I have had many who posted ask to have their posts removed later as the posts/threads were coming up in Google Searches for their name and other words.  While the posts were not anything but business/professional questions, a client reading those could think otherwise.   Also, no matter how private you keep your profile to protect your family/friends and personal life, those privacy settings are only as good as your friends settings.  I am also amazed at the number of people who leave their Facebook pages open for everyone to look at.  I am wondering if they don’t care or they don’t know that anyone and everyone can see EVERYTHING that they post!

Facebook is also a great opportunity for networking.

People may look at your profile to see more about you.   Having your business name and website in your about section of your profile can make it easy for people to find out what you do and where you do massage.   You just never know when an opportunity may arise.  I have seen many missed connections and opportunities for networking.

Last year I also set up a Facebook Group (closed) where I am having to approve people to join.  I can’t tell one way or another if they are a real person or even a massage therapist.   So far I just have had to set the parameters for who can join and I simply go through people’s profiles and if I can’t tell they are a massage therapist or in massage school in 2 clicks, I ignore their requests.  Now I know many will get mad when they hear that but I just don’t have time to email them and wait for them to reply and approve their request to join.   Yes it does sound ruthless probably to some but that is just the way it is today.  I know other groups are doing that but frankly that is not how I want to be spending my time!

Facebook makes it so easy to update your information these days.

Just go to the link in your profile in the cover area that says “Update Info”.  The area in the Work/Education Section is what will show up in your profile when you hover over a link that goes to your profile.  That shows up when you post on pages/groups.

When you hover over your name in a discussion, look at what shows up.

Facebook Profile

 You can edit what shows up there in the Work/Education Section of your profile.  Just click on the Update Info and then Work/Education

Edit Work Section of Facebook Profile

It then also shows easily in your profile on the left hand column.

Facebook Profile

It is easy!   Why do you not want to do this one simple thing that can help promote your business?

Yes you can still be you and post silly bitstrip comics and such (but that will probably come back to bite you too!)

Seriously,  Nothing on Facebook is really private as it was learned by one group last week.  Everything you post in a group or on a page now exposes you.  People can copy and paste.

Learn how to use privacy settings

Yes get a fan page also for your business.   Here is how from

Tipping! Yes or No?

The subject of accepting tips as a massage therapist seems to come up often on the many discussion boards and Facebook.

Should you accept tips as a massage therapist?

Some say Yes and some of course say No.  Which is best for you and your business will depend on your own values and needs but it is important to also look at your relationship with money.  Money is always such a hot topic for massage therapists I think mainly because they struggle to make money for the most part.   Money is the one thing that EVERYONE has in common.  It is where we project our own feelings of self worth and acceptance.  The meaning we give money comes from our early lives and watching our early caregivers talk or NOT talk about money.  We project all our meanings onto money when money in fact really means nothing.  It really isn’t worth anything.  It is just a math problem to figure out for your self so that you have money or you don’t.

Tipping in history was a way to show gratitude and ensure future service.   With massage that may or may not apply.  When people are there on vacation, they won’t be coming back.   Tipping is more common in the restaurant industry where servers are often paid less than minimum wage.  Their livelihood depends on their level of service.  Higher end restaurants with higher priced food items will of course make a server more since people tip on the amount of the bill.

Tipping can also be a sign of transference on the clients part.  They feel better because of your work – or so they think.  They want to give you more and they want to please you.  Some may even want preferential service like being able to get in for a massage even though your schedule is full or they may want something like extra time or extra care.   There probably is some transference going on in the process of tipping for every client.  The thing is how you handle your boundaries around your services and let them know that the tip is for saying thank you and not preferential treatment.  You can do that through setting your hours and keeping them , keeping on time with your sessions and staying true to your values.

The case for NO Tipping:

  • We are medical professionals.  Doctors and dentists don’t accept tips.
  • It makes clients uncomfortable.   They don’t know whether to tip or not or how much to tip and they don’t want you to feel slighted if they don’t tip because they just might not have enough cash or something like that.
  • It makes you uncomfortable as the massage therapist.
  • You are the owner of the business and charge top dollar for your massage.  (The average rate for a massage is about $64 last I heard.) Charging above that sets you apart from all of the low cost massage places.   Clients should not have to tip on top of higher fees.
  • Tips are spiritually degrading. (From one of my Facebook discussions on tipping.)


This argument that we are medical professionals is futile.  Yes, Some massage therapists are medical professionals and many states license massage therapists as medical professionals, but the thing is that we don’t get paid like doctors or dentists.  The insurance companies also pay them and they charge $300 for a 10 minute visit.  Until we are paid that rate, then you can’t really compare massage therapists to doctors or dentists.  I often thing that maybe we should start moving towards a tipping your doctor policy and wonder if they would finally get it.   Some massage therapists are not medically oriented – they are more service oriented and work in a spa or resort.   People who are employed at franchises depend on tips and their jobs pay so low with the idea that they will be paid a fair wage in tips.

Tips don’t have any meaning except for Thank You and Make sure I get that service again in the future.  Money does not have anything to do with spirituality or being a good person.  Money is just a way to take care of yourself and your family.

The case for tipping:

  • Tips are the way people who work at franchises, bump up their income to something almost reasonable.
  • Tips are just a way the client has of telling you they appreciate your services.
  • Massage is a service industry and people like to reward good service.

How to set your own tipping policy:

Whether you want to accept tips is totally up to you and how you want to run your business.

Tipping should never be expected.  If it gets to the point that you do feel resentful if you are not tipped, it may be time to raise your rated in general.

If your work depends on tips, having a clear policy posted in public can help reduce the uncomfortableness of the whole process.  Having envelopes at the front desk or in the massage room or letting clients tip on the credit card, can also ease the situation.

In some ways, the whole tipping issue may be adding to the lack of clarity of our role in the massage profession.  People don’t know when or who to tip and it adds many awkward moments to many massages.  I hope one day that we can be all on the same page and be paid well enough by the insurance companies, employers and charge enough in our private massage practices so that tipping will be forgotten.

Looking at the reasons why tipping makes you uncomfortable, can be a clue to many other beliefs about money.  Start with going through this money autobiography to start taking a deeper look at the things you project onto money or the lack of money.