By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
Whilst researching around the internet, I found a link to a chat room thread that exemplifies one of the problems massage therapists face to this day: the misconception that massage therapy is a sexual service. In this thread, a young man inquires how to go about getting sexual services from a “legitimate massage therapist.” Which is really an oxymoron.
All too often, men (and some women) think that massage IS a sexual service and get confused as to what they are getting when they schedule a massage session. This makes it tough on those of us that are legitimate massage therapists. How do you know if your massage therapist or massage center is legit or a cover for prostitution?
Massage is Not Prostitution, But Massage “Parlors” Are Often Fronts for Prostitution
Because prostitution is illegal, prostitutes and massage parlor operators look for creative ways to mask the real intent of their product: Sex for hire. And what better way to conceal your true product than to market it under the name of a similar product or service: Call it “massage.”
Massage parlors don’t typically use licensed massage therapists. Why bother? Licensing for massage therapy requires at least a year or so of schooling, including anatomy and kineseology, at a cost of about $10,000-$12,000. And in Illinois, massage therapists get fingerprinted and go through a criminal background check–tough to pass if her or she has a record of convictions for prostitution.
Who Are Legitimate Massage Therapists?
Which brings me to my point. How do you know the difference between a legitimate massage therapy center and a massage parlor? Let’s run through a legitimate massage therapist’s goals, training and ethics to demonstrate how we differ from massage parlor masseuses.
Massage Therapy Goals
Legitimate massage therapists are people that like to help other people, non-sexually. We aim to relieve muscle pain, relax your nervous system and give you a period of time in which you and your wellness is the focus (which is tough to find these days between work, family, fitness and social obligations).
Legitimate massage therapy gives clients a safe space to relax. Licensed massage therapists are trained to respect client’ boundaries, be non-judgemental and compassionate.
True, there is a wide range of skill levels between licensed massage therapists, and some are far better than others, but overall, legitimate massage therapists strive to provide a clean, safe and relaxing massage session for clients.
Massage Therapy Ethics
Legitimate massage therapists agree to abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sexual massage. In fact, if a legitimate massage therapist is convicted of giving sexual massages, aka prostitution, she/he can lose their massage therapy license, face disciplinary measures from their professional association and be barred from performing professional massage.
Massage Therapy Training
Licensed massage therapists train in massage techniques as well as proper draping techniques to ensure your genitals are never exposed during your massage. In massage therapy school, we learn about skin conditions and how to avoid contagion.We learn about good hygiene and general health conditions. We undergo extensive testing in each massage class as well as at the end of our training in order to obtain our massage therapy licenses.
In Chicago, legitimate massage therapists must apply for and maintain current licenses with the State of Illinois. Any massage therapist that has been disciplined for performing sexual massage can have this license revoked. You can look up the validity of a massage therapists license online here. Your can also request that your massage therapists show you his or her state license. In addition, in Chicago, every Massage Therapy “Establishment,” from the Working Well Massage chair massage station at Whole Foods to the big spas, must have a Massage Establishment License.
Where Do I Find a Legitimate Massage Therapist?
A massage therapy session can be a wonderful, positive, relaxing experience. Or it can be a way to relieve muscle pain, heal from injury or help you better cope with stress. What it’s not is an open invitation to harass, proposition or fondle the massage therapist!