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Massage Anxiety

Dealing with client anxiety

Attitudes toward the human body vary throughout the world. Some people are either over identified with their bodies and totally out of touch with reality.  They may see their body as something alien, something political, or something to be ashamed of and as such they may feel embarrassed about undressing or having anyone touch their body, even family and loved ones.

Pin up models are one in about a million people and then looks, appearance only lasts 10 - 20 years so after a while super models become ordinary like the rest of us.  How do you feel about your body? You're to fat, to thin, not well proportioned or your teeth are not straight - get over it!! As a therapist you must overcome your own body issues and be comfortable naked otherwise how can you expect to ever make your clients feel comfortable?

New clients who come for a massage may wonder or fear:

  • Am I supposed to be nude?
  • Should I leave my underwear on?
  • Will the therapist judge my body?
  • What happens if the therapist sees my bottom?
  • What happens if the therapist sees my breasts?
  • What happens if I become sexually aroused and What if you get an erection during a holistic massage or any massage?
  • Can I talk during the massage?
  • What happens if I go to sleep and a start snoring
  • What do I do if I need to go pee?

Are clients supposed to be nude?

The idea of being naked and being massaged is too much of a challenge for many people and they simply abstain.  If they are stressed or sore from activity, they will likely seek medical advise and medication instead of wholesome, natural human support.

The attitude that people have toward their bodies is something learned, something inherited, but embarrassment about our bodies has no foundation in reality, and it is your duty as a therapist to completely overcome your own issues so that you can better help other people feel more comfortable about their own body.

As a therapist you must recognise that people are embarrassed by their own body and you must give them the option to least wear their knickers and for those who are extremely shy, be sure that other than the body part, you will work on, you keep the rest of their body covered.

Part of your job as a therapist in addition to relieving muscular aches and pains, is to also massage away people's unhealthy attitudes toward their bodies in order that they can relax physically and mentally and spiritually.

Should clients take off their underwear for massage?
Being completely naked is preferable, however many shy people prefer to keep their panties or briefs on during a massage while others prefer to be completely nude.
If your treating problem areas over the lower back, hips, buttocks, or groin, then underwear gets in the way of massage work.
Therapists must negotiate this in a way that keeps clients comfortable.

Sleeping and drooling during the massage?
Many people fall into a peaceful slumber during the massage but when they wake up, they notice drool on the pillow or massage table.  This is very common and often happens when people are being massaged while lying face down on the massage table.
If someone falls asleep, simply continue with the treatment and you will always have some tissues handy.

Talking during the massage?
Although some people prefer to talk throughout the massage, don’t feel like you have to make conversation. After all, you’re giving a treatment; you’re not at a party!
You will need to ask your client how they're feeling from time to time and about the pressure of your techniques and sometimes he will have clients who just want to talk, but over all its best if you can steer the conversation in the direction seems relevant to the aches and pains in the client's life.

Encourage clients to to speak up if:
They experience discomfort
They experience pain
When method feels really good
The room is too hot or too cold.
There’s anything they forgot to mention during the consultation.

Some people don’t feel comfortable having a massage by a male therapist.
This may be due to outdated social and media stereotypes of the profession. Unfortunately, men who choose to become massage therapists are often unprepared for the discrimination they face. When clients request female over male therapists, spas stop hiring them no matter how highly skilled they are, that’s why it’s important to challenge your preconceptions and affirm that men generally provide much firmer such.

What if clients become aroused during the massage?
With women, you seldom notice as they enjoy that inner glow however some men don't get massage therapy because they worry that they'll get an erection.  Or they get the massage, but are unable to relax during the massage because of this fear.

But there is no reason to be embarrassed. It's perfectly normal for men to get an erection during a non-sexual, therapeutic massage.  Women can become aroused to, however its usually not obvious.


Gentle touch administered to any area of the body can activate the parasympathetic nervous system and cause a partial or full erection.
As massage therapist (male or female) you must understand this and work around it, see Massage and Sexuality.

Practical ways to manage clients with erections

If you are embarrassed; get another job.
If they look embarrassed; assure them that it's okay and perfectly normal.
If their embarrassment is great; move away from the area and use a firmer technique.
If it's in your way; erections often occur when clients are laying face up and you're working the thighs or belly. This can create some awkwardness if you're not experienced.  If you're doing a spa relaxation (politically correct) massage, then just avoid the area.  But if you're doing a proper massage, some genital contact may be unavoidable.  If in doubt,  ask the person if they're comfortable.  Remember your draping technique to move the penis out of your way.
If he's drawing attention or trying to hit on you; avoid the area and press more firmly or you may have to say something about such inappropriateness.  Americanised institutions would end the massage and ban the client, but this would have to be an extreme case.  

There are other fears and anxieties that your clients will suffer from, however it is your job to help people feel more comfortable in their own body, and to help them to become more responsible and capable individuals better able to function in the world.

Embarrassing Massage Quips
Not an endorsement, but there is a shift in understanding in Happy Ending Massages for Men and Women.

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