It's likely that wherever you live, massage is available. And if you live in Austin, Texas it's abundant! So how do you find a great massage therapist when there's so many to choose from?
First, look for a therapist that is licensed. Regulations vary by state, sometimes by county (as is the case in California... why you gotta be difficult Cali??). In Texas, you can verify if a person is licensed by visiting the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation and searching their license database here. Use your potential therapist's first and last name to search for a valid and current license (just double check your spelling, obvs). If they aren't listed at all, or their license is listed as anything other than "Current", I'd think twice about scheduling with them. A current and valid license signifies that they met at least the minimum requirements of training (currently a state regulated 500-hour program for Texas) AND passed a state licensing exam AND are maintaining their license status responsibly. In rare instances it's possible a therapist missed the renewal deadline and is simply late on renewing their license. But that's not common.
Second, word of mouth referrals are a great resource! If your best friend regularly sees a therapist they love, that may be a good place to start. Then, ask questions to help you get an idea if the same therapist might be a good fit for you too:
How often do they see the therapist for massage?
Has the therapist helped them with a problem, pain, injury, etc?
What do they like most about the therapist's technique?
How would they describe their experience?
If you're searching without personal recommendations, that's okay too. You can search the internet, Yelp, Google, etc for key words to help you locate a therapist. Searching for something specific to what you're looking for, like 'deep tissue massage Austin Texas', 'Sports massage', 'Pregnancy massage', etc can help narrow down the long list of options. Reading reviews can also be helpful. Keep in mind though, that a lot of excellent independent massage therapists may not have a lot of reviews or internet presence. LMT's are notorious for focusing on their hands on skills and NOT their marketing. We tend to be so focused on helping others through our work, that we forget to ask for reviews, check our SEO rankings (if we even know what that means...), or spend much time optimizing our internet presence.
Third, be specific about what you're looking for out of the session. This is especially helpful if you're booking a massage at a facility with multiple therapists, but it also applies when you're talking to your therapist before your session. If you call to schedule, it couldn't hurt to ask for recommendations based on what you're looking for. Do you have a chronic shoulder issue that's keeping you from playing tennis? Ask for a therapist who specializes in shoulder injuries. Do you want the most relaxing scalp massage the world has ever experienced? Ask for it! Therapists are not usually mind readers, so be clear in what you're looking for from your session.
Also be clear on what you DON'T want in your session, if it applies. Hate having your feet touched? Ask them not to work your feet. Just got your hair done and want to avoid have it messed with? Tell your therapist. Recently develop a blister on this weird spot on the inside of your ankle that is probably from those new hightops you got last week an.... anyways... you get the point. Tell your therapist! Communication is key so that we can tailor the session to your needs.
Using the above info, you can likely find a really great therapist who can help you achieve your session goals. It may take a couple tries to find the person you fit best with, or you may find the right person the first time. Massage is both an art and a science, so enjoy the process and your massage!
Have other tips for finding a great therapist? Questions? Leave a comment below!