Being a Professional

Being a Professional

Being a Professional

Before you leave massage school, it's worthwhile to develop professionalism. Having a successful massage career requires more than the ability to give a good massage. You must also look and act like a professional.

When I first began my career, massage was not seen as a health profession. Also, almost 30 years ago (I am now 53) many of us interested in massage grew up during the nonconforming 1960s and this perspective influence how we approached our massage career. How you present yourself as a massage professional today is much different.

Massage is mainstream---not on the fringe. This means that those in the field today need to present themselves in an appropriate way - compassionate and concerned about our clients, yes; but also put together in a crisp, professional appearance.

You can do this is with an appropriate work uniform (scrubs with athletic shoes, for example), a gender-neutral appearance, a conservative hairstyle, minimal make-up and jewelry, by making sure body art (tattoos, piercings) are not visible, and by paying careful attention to hygiene. Your work ethic is essential. This includes showing up on time, being attentive to professional communication, and even little things like not chewing gum while in the professional environment.

I tell my students that success in massage therapy requires both the ability to give an excellent massage and to look and act the part of a professional. Then I point out aspects of their appearance, language skills, body language, or writing skills that need attention. We have a choice: we can be nonconformists on the outside and take the chance on limiting our client base or employment opportunities; or we can be nonconformists in the inside, always seeking to improve, but looking and acting in a way that does not alienate those we seek to help.

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