How to interview massage clients to ensure best results

Although a new client may be enthusiastic about massage, there is bound to be some concern. Clients may have qualms about what will happen during the session and worries that the treatment may fail to address whatever problems they are experiencing. That’s why it’s so important to have a thorough intake session to find out about a client’s expectations for the massage, recent injuries, chronic health issues, eating habits, amount of exercise and any allergies or sensitivities that you need to know about to help determine the right therapy and the right lubricants to use.

Here are some recommendations regarding general questions to ask a new client:

Previous experience with massage: A new client may be uncomfortable to ask questions about disrobing so finding out about their previous experience gives you the opportunity to discuss draping techniques. During this part of the questioning, you also can find out if a previous session provided the kind of outcome the client was looking for.

Goals for the session: You can’t base a session on your perceptions or assumptions about what a client needs. Get specific with questions to understand if a client needs therapeutic massage or a relaxing Swedish massage. You also may determine aromatherapy should be part of the session. As part of the questioning, find out what specific areas the client needs you to focus on.

Degree of preferred pressure: Regardless of input during intake, you’ll also want to check in with the client throughout the session to determine if the degree of pressure used is causing any discomfort.

What worsens a condition: You also should ask what activities might intensify a client’s condition. This could help you determine which muscles in particular to focus on.

Conduct the interview to get best results

No matter what questions you include on your intake form, how you conduct the interview can make all the difference. Julia Onofrio in “Interviewing Massage Clients,” on Massage School Notes provides some tips. Among them:

  • Be sensitive to personal information
  • Be aware of non-verbal cues – eye contact, posture, folding arms
  • Use active listening to show the client that you understand what they are saying
  • Explain what different types of massage will accomplish and why you are recommending a specific therapy based on their condition
  • Make sure to allow enough time for the interview


Continue to make clients feel at ease during session

The intake interview should help a new client feel at ease about what is going to happen. Make sure that they continue to feel comfortable throughout the session by doing the following:

Create a relaxing environment:  Find out if your clients like music and what type. Have a selection of music to play and make sure it complements your work. Music should be in the background and not so loud or intrusive that your client thinks more about the music than the massage. Also avoid music with a distinct tune or sing-a-long type lyrics since they can interfere with a client’s ability to relax.

Make sure room is ready: When a new client comes into the treatment room, they want to be confident room is clean and sanitized. Make sure your massage table and chair is clean and that the sheets are fresh.

Encourage talking: Suggest clients keep talking throughout the massage, if they choose, and to ask questions. If you are doing something that is uncomfortable or painful, they need to let you know.

Don’t take anything for granted with new clients. Give them your full attention and watch for signs they may be feeling uneasy. Your job is to make them good and that includes their peace of mind.