What Does It Take
To Be a Successful Massage Therapist?
Much More Than You Think.

by Marissa Gandelman, LMT, & owner of Elm City Wellness in New Haven, CT

Ever see those ads for “Careers in Massage Therapy” promising $80,000 annual salaries and the luxurious life working on cruise ships, high-end spas and hotels? Yeah, those aren’t real. Well, the jobs are, but the life of luxury and piles of money aren’t. And if that’s why you want to be a massage therapist, go find another career.

That’s not what this work is about.

Massage therapy is deep, DEEP emotional AND physical work for both you and the client. Immobilizing chronic pain, depression, cancer, debilitating migraines, and so much more will grace your table. And it’s an honor to be trusted with these bodies. And it’s humbling. And it’s pure, pure love.

And if that’s why you want to be a massage therapist, you’ve found your calling.

So let’s get down to it. What does it take to be successful? I know this might sound corny, but if you’ve read this much you might understand this: You have to have passion for this work or you won’t make it. This passion permeates your desire to keep learning, your desire to share this information with your clients and their reaction to it. When they “get” why you’re using a certain technique or working a certain muscle to effect change in the body, they’re more open to receiving the work and the work is more effective. And when they feel better, they want more. And so they rebook. And they tell all their friends.

And that’s how you create a thriving practice.

But the nuts and bolts to becoming a good therapist is far more complicated than anything that can be written in one or two paragraphs (and I will elaborate in future articles). But practice is key. You’re always practicing. And the more you work, the more you begin to trust your intuition, which is key to building your confidence. It’s not ego -- ego NEVER comes into this work -- but it’s being sure enough to say “I don’t know, let me look into that.” It’s knowing where the line is drawn between your scope of practice and someone else’s. It’s releasing all fear of “competition” from other therapists and working together to do what is best for a client.

If these words resonate, then maybe this is the career for you.