Imagine a person who has always gone to the same massage therapist. For whatever reason, their therapist fulfills all their needs. Now imagine that therapist moves away. What does a person do? Obviously, they need to find another therapist. So they search long and hard, possibly asking trusted friends or colleagues who they recommend. Which is, by the way, the best route to finding a good therapist–find someone who has similar issues (i.e. back pain, neck pain, shin splints, etc.) and ask them who has given them relief. It may take time to find a therapist who meets all your needs, physically and psychologically, but fortunately there are many out there with a virtually unlimited variety of skills and strengths. Always be willing to try something new. Some techniques I first considered dubious have been of amazing help.
In searching for a replacement massage therapist, please avoid one thing–telling the therapist, during the massage, all about your previous, long-standing therapist. Before getting on the table, when the therapist is doing the intake, feel free to mention what you like worked on and what you may have especially appreciated regarding other massages. But once on the table, do not keep bringing up other therapists…unless it is to inform the current therapist of how superior they are. I liken it to sex. Imagine having sex with a new partner, how would you welcome comparisons? ‘My previous boyfriend would do this thing with his tongue that was absolutely incredible.’ ‘My last girlfriend did this thing that sent me to the moon!’–such observations come across as critical. It infers whatever they are doing is not good enough. Oftentimes, these observations are made early on before the recipient can even judge what skills their therapist/partner possesses-skills that are different but in no way inferior.
If someone would never compare their current lover to previous lovers, why would they compare current massage therapists to previous therapists? I know some people may consider it harmless but it is not. It distracts your therapist and immediately makes them feel incompetent or insufficient. If the client doesn’t like something, say it. If they need the therapist to lighten up or go deeper, tell him/her. But do not say, ‘You don’t do this like my other therapist, who I really, really loved and wish, to God, hadn’t moved.’ I hate working on people like this because I feel like nothing I do will ever be good enough. These people have developed a loyalty to someone, whether the therapist was good or not, and no one is going to quite fit their shoes. No two massage therapists are alike but I have rarely met a therapist who doesn’t do at least one thing exceptionally well. So, lay back, relax, and enjoy the new sensations.