Thursday, June 30, 2022, 10:45 AM
Mobile massage is becoming more widely known in the holistic health care world for many reasons. Individuals may choose mobile massage for comfort, convenience, or health-related reasons that prevent them from commuting to a clinic or a spa.
We spoke with NHPC Member Michèle Somer to help explain mobile massage, its benefits, uses, and other considerations.
Michèle has been an NHPC member since 2020. She graduated from the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy in Halifax, NS, in 2018 before moving to BC to continue her career in holistic health care.
Michèle owns and operates At-Home Therapeutics, a mobile therapeutic massage service in Campbell River, BC.
Mobile massage is massage on the move. Practitioners will travel to the client (their home, office, or otherwise) and provide everything needed for treatment:
While mobile massage most often takes place in a home setting, the practitioner may also travel to other environments. Michèle explains that she may travel to sporting events, fundraisers, community centres, or other clinics and workplaces.
What defines mobile massage is that it can be practised from anywhere.
Michèle enjoys mobile massage because it allows her to be aware of the bigger picture of who a client is and how she can help them work towards their health and wellness goals.
"I find it's a clearer window into their lifestyle," Michèle says. She observes many different elements in the home, such as the desk set-up where the client works, the fatiguing garden work they may do, or the loveable pets that may affect their sleep schedule. "It provides great insight!" she says.
"There are many reasons someone may want to choose mobile massage," Michèle says. She shares a few possible reasons:
While there are many reasons someone may choose mobile massage over a massage in a clinic or spa setting, there is no "better" choice between the two. Massage therapy can significantly and positively impact overall health, and what matters most is the client's comfort and well-being.
Both the client and the practitioner may have safety concerns related to mobile massage. In many cases, the client is welcoming someone into their home so they may want to consider the following before their appointment.
If it would make them more comfortable, the client can request an initial phone call with the practitioner to discuss what to expect for their appointment.
The practitioner should have certification or education in massage therapy and be registered with a professional association like the NHPC.
NHPC Practice Competency Manager Candace Pichonsky shares that the client can also check to see if their extended health care benefits will cover the treatment.
Transparency can be key in helping a client determine whether to choose a certain provider.
"It is very important that everyone feels comfortable and safe. To feel safe is to have trust, and building trust includes a mutual understanding between everyone of how all aspects of the treatment will go about and answers to any other unknowns they may have," Michèle says.
Michèle explains that this sense of trust can start to be built when a client first interacts with a business. From the website to business cards and flyers, the client should have a positive first impression of the business, no matter the format.
"I look towards what is in my control to make the experience positive from start to finish," Michèle says.
"Being clear with a client or potential client that they can reach out at any time with questions or concerns is part of that continued two-way open communication that provides a quality service or treatment, and fosters trust."
Practitioners can also take precautions to stay safe in their mobile massage practice.
The practitioner may decide to offer service only through referrals from existing clients, or they may share what time they will be done their treatment with someone they trust, so they can check in after they finish.
Candace suggests that the practitioner may schedule a phone call with first-time clients to discuss treatment such as their space requirements and fees, rather than relying only on online bookings.
In Michèle's case, she was starting her business in a new community where she did not know a lot of people. To establish her business and build trust, she invested in her business website and online presence.
Through these channels, she communicates clearly what services she offers and how clients can contact her. In addition, she also relies on her own intuition reading non-verbal cues.
"It is up to each provider to decide what is best for them, their business, and how they want to go about serving their community," Michèle says.
Practitioners and clients should respect their boundaries and comfort level, no matter the setting.
Michèle stresses the importance of self-reflection: "Have you had any previous experiences with clients where you felt unsafe? If so, were there subtle signs they initially exhibited? How much do you trust your own ability to read non-verbal cues, communicate clearly, and maintain professional boundaries?"
Clients can help prepare for the practitioner's arrival before their appointment.
Clear a space to fit a massage table or mat, with enough space around the table for the practitioner to work around it. Clients should also provide access to a sink for handwashing and instructions for parking if needed. In some cases, the practitioner may bring their own music as an option as well.
Michèle shares that just like a traditional massage setting, there is a client intake form that the client should fill out in advance, and depending on the provider and location, there may be a COVID-19 policy in place.
As the provider, Michèle comes prepared by stating pre-appointment information on her website, as well as in confirmation emails shared prior to the scheduled appointment.
The practitioner should also notify the client of their fees and acceptable forms of payment.
Each business may have its own guidelines for appointments, so the client should review and follow any instructions provided by the practitioner prior to their appointment.
Michèle looks forward to seeing how mobile massage can continue to grow and encourages other practitioners to explore if it's a good fit for them.
"There are many ways to go about providing mobile massage, just like any other service or business. I am excited to see how the fields of mobile massage and natural health evolve over time, and what positive impacts that can bring for people," she says.
Photos courtesy of Michèle Somer.