Hi there! This is Marisa, one of your Licensed Massage Therapists at Warwick Chiropractic & Massage. I’m a 30 year old female, and I’ve been a Licensed Massage Therapist for nine years. I’m writing this letter today to discuss a subject that is somewhat taboo and hits close to home for me. That subject is: sexuality on the massage table.
At least once or twice a week a client will ask me: “Do you ever have anyone ask for off the menu services?” – or – “What do you do if someone asks for a…you know what…” Another line of questioning goes something like: “Do you see a lot of male clients?” – or – “Is it weird to be massaged by a guy?” – or – “I’ve encouraged my husband to get massage but he doesn’t want a male therapist. Could we request you?”
It feels to me like this is a topic people are hyper aware of, but yet no one knows how to talk about it. So let me begin to answer these questions by taking you back to my first day of massage school.
It was the year 2009 and a beautiful Washington day. The sun was shining, the early morning weather was crisp, and I approached the building where I’d spend the next year learning my trade with an eager mind and a quad shot iced mocha. (I loooove coffee!)
When I walked into my classroom, I saw six massage tables set up instead of desks, and there were two chairs pushed up to each table. Most of the students were already sitting down, and I found my place next to a fellow classmate. We exchanged introductions, and as I was asking her what made her decide to be a Massage Therapist, our teacher entered the room. She was a short gal, in her sixties, with very obviously dyed auburn red hair that stood out dramatically against her pale skin. I remember thinking as she started addressing the class that she was such a sweet looking lady.
Then she said:
“Okay! Well, first things first! We’re going to get this out of the way because it’s going to come up! Sex on the massage table!”
She seemed so enthusiastic to talk about it and most of us stared at her with wide eyes or blank expressions. Definitely not subject matter I expected on the first day! She seemed almost tickled by the total uncomfortable silence as she jovially continued her lecture.
“I’m going to make it very, very, very clear that everything of a sexual nature is FORBIDDEN on the massage table! We are not prostitutes or sex workers. We do not touch genitals, or breast tissue unless you are certified in breast massage.” She went on to list other examples of forbidden activities, instructing us on the professionalism of massage.
“This table,” she continued as she walked to one of the tables and placed her hands lovingly upon it, “this is a sacred space, my friends. When someone is on your table, they are trusting you with their body. They are vulnerable. They will talk to you about their day, their health test results, their relationships, you name it. Alot of them will be in severe pain and just want to cry. And you, future colleagues, are in a position of authority. Don’t betray that trust.”
Her speech was was certainly a powerful impact for a first day lecture, and it’s stuck with me for all of these years. When you are on my massage table, or any other licensed massage therapist’s table, it is sacred space for healing. It is not a place for any sort of sexuality.
Now I’m going to throw some facts at you!
– “Happy ending” massages are illegal in Washington state and many other states in the US. The person giving them can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and it’s regarded as an act of prostitution.
– The law also applies to the recipient. Patronizing a massage parlor where erotic massage is performed can land you in hot water if you are caught.
– Licensed Massage Therapists can and will lose their licenses over it and will be unable to obtain medical licensure in the future.
– There are professionals who are tasked with visiting massage establishments “undercover” to fish out where these acts are taking place and set them up for police raids.
– In order to renew my massage therapy credentials, I am required to take and provide proof to WA state and my employer of 24 hours of continuing education biannually.
A minimum of eight hours must be direct massage skills training and a minimum of four hours must be in professional ethics, communication and/or Washington State massage laws and regulations. Two of these hours must include professional roles and boundaries. (Source: https://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/ProfessionsNewReneworUpdate/MassageTherapist/LicenseRequirements )
– Massage therapists must use safe and functional coverage and draping practices during the practice of massage when the client or patient is disrobed. The drape(s) must be sufficient to ensure the genitals and the gluteal cleft distal to the coccyx, anus and rectum are not exposed, and the breast area is not exposed. (Source: https://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=246-830-560)
So what are my official answers to those questions I keep getting asked?
Have you been asked for a happy ending? Yes, I have, in a prior employment place of business. After taking my hands off his back, I told him that I am not a prostitute, I am a licensed massage therapist and he needed to get dressed immediately and see the front desk staff. Then I went to the front desk staff and discreetly told them what happened. Everywhere I’ve worked, including Warwick Chiropractic & Massage, all employees are trained and prepared on how to handle these situations. There are protocols in place to ensure our safety. This applies to massage therapy at Warwick Chiropractic, and also chiropractic care. Dr. Warwick takes the safety of all employees very seriously.
Do I see alot of male clients? Absolutely!! I always say every”body” deserves a massage! It makes no difference to me if you’re male, female, or anywhere in between. Warwick Chiropractic and Massage is a welcoming office to anyone – no matter their sexual orientation, religious beliefs, political beliefs. We are here to provide healthcare services and help you get out of pain.
Is it weird to be massaged by a guy? My answer is nope! I personally think that male therapists tend to alleviate me of feeling obligated to talk during a session (sorry, ladies, but we talk aloooot). And the BEST massages I’ve ever had have been by male therapists. We all go through the same training even though we adopt different techniques and styles along the way. For me, choosing a practitioner is less about gender and more about what direction they’ve taken their continuing education in. An LMT who is trained in Reiki will not do the same massage as someone who is trained in Sports Therapy. I encourage everyone to be open minded! Kelly, my partner at Warwick Chiropractic, gives excellent massages, and he and I work so well together as a team, sharing treatment information with each other about the clients who see both of us.
So let me get these thoughts wrapped up. Massage Therapy with trained professionals is a non sexual activity. Our sole interests are helping you feel your best and enabling you to live your life as pain free as possible. We are healing, caring, and nurturing people. There are bad apples everywhere in every profession! But if you do your research and find a trusted practice you’ll be in good hands. Rest assured that you have found that with myself, Kelly, and the entire team at Warwick Chiropractic & Massage.
We look forward to seeing you soon!