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How to find a great Massage Therapist

With the huge growth of complementary therapists in recent years, how can you be sure you're finding a professional therapist?

What about letters after their name?
Unfortunately there is an increasing number of bodies & associations, offering membership on payment of a joining fee, and sending a copy of a basic training course certificate. There are of course varying levels in quality, however, more often than not, nothing else is required, except on certain occassions they'd like to see a copy of the insurance certificate.

With the lack of regulation in complementary therapies, these courses can often be manufactured by someone setting up a taster course, run from their living room. (It's not that all courses run in someone's living room are bad, and not that all courses run at a college are good, but you get the idea).

There are currently no restrictions with the Intellectual Property Office (the Patent Office) on the use of any letters after your name. There only real restrictions we can track down, are with 'Trading Standards' laws, whereby people may not attempt to pass themselves off as holding qualifications they don't have, if the general consumer considers these letters as recognition in a particular sector. As a result, virtually anyone could set themselves up as a 'professional association' and then offer new letters for 'members' to place after their name. (We've just done it, for the 'Complementary Therapists Register', and 'MCTR').

Again, just because some questionable associations and individuals offer countless letters after their name, doesn't mean, that all associations are bad.. it just means don't take what you read on face value.

We were recently contacted by a therapist who'd apparently gained 'training' with a distance learning course, in massage therapy! By paying a much higher fee than would be paid in an NVQ course at a local government backed training college, even the distance learning course's own website claimed all their courses weren't to a professional standard, and they did not recommend anyone set up a therapy practise with their training (these terms were hidden deep in their 4500 word disclaimer), but yet, on the face of it, the distance learning college claimed their courses were accredited by a seperate professional association, that was actually one and the same of the 'college' providing the false courses!

They've been recommended to me:
This is normally the best way to find a good therapist

Speak to them on the phone first, do you feel comfortable talking to them?

Do they have professional liability insurance?
There are an increasing number of brokers providing insurance to therapists, generally for at least up to £1million, with some premiums providing support of claims in excess of £6million. If they can't provide a certificate supporting their current insurance when visiting a therapist, don't proceed.

Many therapists set up a separate Therapy Room in their home, for the ease of providing treatments, to help save on costs to you, etc.
On arrival, is the room clean, clutter free, of a comfortable temperature?

Complementary therapies have been categorised into three groups:
Group 1 CAM therapies - Osteopathy, Chiropractors, Herbalism, Acupuncture, ... - Those treatments which have some government accredited regulation, which are proven under rigorous medical research to be beneficial
Group 2 CAM therapies - Massage, Aromatherapy, Reflexology, ... - Those treatments which are recognised to provide significant benefits to recipients within trial groups, but for which there is currently no legal requirements on training, or registered titles.
Group 3 CAM therapies - Crystal Healing, Spiritual Healing, ... - Those treatments which have been seen to be beneficial to some clients, but with which there is currently little supporting evidence into their effacy.

The Therapy Agency focuses on working within Group 2 CAM therapies, for which there is little regulation, and where standards in training vary considerably, from an evening 'certified' taster workshop, to full time year long diploma courses. We've even heard of hands-on professional treatment courses being taught by distance learning with very few practical sessions (which not surprisingly, The Therapy Agency doesn't currently accept).

The above text was written by Jason Parlour, founder of The Therapy Agency, and professional massage therapist since 1996, Jason has worked with thousands of clients around the world in a range of professional therapeutic sessions, and now utilises his knowledge and background to support the careful selection of carefully selected therapists around the UK for a host of businesses, events, and individual treatments.

If you would like to replicate the above text in an alternative publication, please contact The Therapy Agency directly for fees and a commercial release. Otherwise, please do feel free to direct your readers to this page instead:

To find quality massage therapists carefully selected to the highest standards in the above criteria (including a professional interview with every applicant), do contact The Therapy Agency, who may be able to provide you with professional massage therapists.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, 18 February, 2009