A good massage therapist is like a four leaf clover; hard to find, lucky to have.

Do not rely on luck or trial and error when finding a massage therapist. Whether it is the first time you want to go for a massage or you are a longtime patron of massage therapy, at one point you need to find a therapist. How should you go about looking for a therapist can sometimes be difficult? Not knowing who is competent and who is not can sometimes deter a person from even trying massage for the first time or just trying someone new to see if they can meet your needs better.

Often you are searching at the last minute due to pain or need for bodywork and then you may be more inclined to just try anyone causing you to have a negative experience, thus tarnishing your views on massage and bodywork as a whole.

When trying to find the right therapist for you, it is important to consider this investment in your health and should be assessed in a similar way than you would seek out a doctor. After all your health should be a complete harmony of the body, the mind and the spirit so it describes careful choices.

By doing a little background work, making some phone calls and asking questions, you can save yourself money, time and effort. Before choosing a therapist there are a few basic pieces of information you verify before making your choice.

Is the therapist certified or licensed by the state in which they practice?

Verifying this will ensure that they have professionally trained and can properly treat your needs.

To know if a therapist is certified, look for abbreviations such as CMT (Certified Massage Therapist) or LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) behind their name. Also look for a license or certificate in their office. Additional certifications may include SMT (sports massage certified), NMT (neuromuscular certification), or NCMT (nationally certified massage therapist).

Does the massage therapist keep session (SOAP) charts? Keeping SOAP charts (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan) is an important part of a professional therapist's way to become more familiar with your needs. They can easily look in your chart and know the body areas worked on in the last session. SOAP charting supports a comfort level with your therapist that you know they care for your individual and unique needs as well as track your progress.

Is the therapist certified in any other modalities? There are many modalities in massage. Most of a therapist that is knowledgeable or has taken continuing education in various modalities will be more qualified to care for your individual needs or complaints. Some dimensions might include; reflexology, sports massage, cranial sacral, neuromuscular massage, or Rolfing. Ask your therapist to explain the various techniques they provide to pinpoint the most suitable treatment course.

With this information verified, you can then start the process of finding the perfect therapist for you! The best way to find the right therapist for you is to first assess the reasons you are seeking massage or bodywork. Ann Stahl at the Center for Advanced Therapeutics in Denver suggests, “The more familiar you become with your own physical and emotional needs, the better equipped you will be in choosing the right therapist for you.”

Here is a list of suggested questions you need to ask yourself. Once you understand your own needs, you will know what type of therapist and what modality would be best for you.

Questions to ask yourself

Is my therapy for injury rehab or sport training enhancement?

Am I looking for relief from physical or emotional stress?

Is the massage for general body health and maintenance?

Is the massage for general aches and pains?

What areas of my body are stiff or in pain?

What areas will I want the therapist to focus on during the session?

How far am I willing to travel for a good massage therapist?

Will I want to set up a weekly or monthly schedule for massage?

The next step is to make a list of questions to ask your therapist when calling. The more you know about the therapist the better you can decide if they are the right choice for you.

Here are 10 important questions to ask when calling:

10 Important questions to ask when calling

1. Are they licensed or certified in the state in which they operate?

2. Do they have malpractice insurance?

3. How much do they charge? Make sure the therapist is within your budget range.

4. Where are they located? It is best to find a therapist close to home. Less drive time equals less stress.

5. What type of experience do they have?

6. What other techniques are they qualified to perform?

7. Do they have experience with your needs?

8. What is their specialty?

9. How long have they been in business?

10. Do they give discounts (first-time massage, senior citizens, and students)?