Posted on October 7, 2021
Massage therapy is becoming widely accepted as a way to maintain overall health and recover from injury. In fact, 63% of clients received massage for wellness purposes in 2020, according to a recent survey. 30% of those people reported that massage therapy was part of a treatment plan prescribed by their doctor. As a massage therapist, it’s your job to design a treatment strategy that gets the results clients are looking for. Let’s take a look at how to do that, as well as a few examples of massage therapy treatment plans that work for certain types of clients.
Things every client is wondering about
Educating clients is an important part of your role as a massage therapist . Your clients aren’t just coming in for a massage, they are coming in for therapy. They trust you to have answers. Regardless of whether your clients come in for relaxation or pain relief, they all want to know the same things.
- How long of a session do I need?
- When should I come back?
- Can massage really help me?
- How long will it take?
- What should I be doing between sessions?
If your clients aren’t asking you these questions directly, they are thinking them. The easiest and most practical way to answer these questions is by creating a massage therapy treatment plan.
When you tell clients what they need to do, the quality of care they receive increases and so does your client retention. Creating a treatment plan isn’t a sales gimmick, it’s crafting a strategy for results.
How to design a treatment plan that meets clients expectations
While everybody is fundamentally the same, every person is different. Therefore, the same plan doesn’t work for everyone. Recommend what you truly believe will be helpful. That may be a monthly massage regime, or it may be something else. Clients want your expert advice.
Speaking of goals, before you can come up with a strategy for treatment, you need to know what your client’s goals are. Don’t make assumptions. Ask.
Start by asking your client what their goal for treatment is. What’s bringing them in? This could be stress relief, pain relief, better mobility, ect.
Once you know what their goal is, the next question to ask is, “how will you know when we reach your goal?” This is a crucial question that many therapists don’t ask. If you don’t have a benchmark to measure your progress against, how will you know if your therapy is working? Often clients don’t notice small improvements over time. Having a benchmark is a way to show your results.
Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, you can start working on creating a massage therapy treatment plan.
Create a template for documenting your treatment plan. You're probably already doing this with a traditional SOAP Note, but you might also consider creating something that you can give to your client.
Once you’ve created a system, document it in your business plan and do the same thing with every client.
Here’s an example of a template you can use for sharing your massage therapy treatment plan with clients.
(Describe the client’s goal and benchmark indicating success)
(Include things like duration of sessions, number of sessions, how far apart sessions will be scheduled, and what modality to use)
(Recommendations on what to do in between sessions. This could be things like stretching, exercise, heat, ice, rest, ect.)
*Stay within your scope of practice when making recommendations.
Examples of massage therapy treatment plans that work for different kinds of clients
Here are a few common examples of treatment plans for massage clients. Remember, each client is different. There’s no one size fits all. So, create your own customized plan for each person you treat.
Example 1: Overworked and stressed out
Tina is a workaholic. She’s constantly in go mode, and her brain never shuts off. She’s been having trouble sleeping, and she was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. Her blood pressure is being managed with medication, but her doctor says she needs to manage her stress levels and get more exercise.
Stress relief and relaxation
Benchmark: She’s able to easily fall asleep at night.
90 minute Swedish massage, bi-weekly over the next 2 months
Take a 30 minute walk when she gets home from the office each day to mark the end of the work day, get much needed exercise and relieve mental stress.
Example 2: Recovering from an injury
Tom hurt his neck heading a soccer ball last weekend. Now he has pain and limited ROM when he turns his head to the left. He had x-rays taken. They didn’t show anything concerning. His doctor said his pain is probably just muscular.
Relieve pain and increase ROM in his neck
Benchmark: He can turn his head to check his blindspot while driving.
Three 30 minute neuromuscular therapy sessions spaced every 4 days
Use moist heat to relax muscles 1-2 times a day for up to 10 minutes. After the application, laterally flex the neck left and right to stretch tight muscles. DO NOT stretch to the point of pain.
Example 3: Chronic Pain
Sarah suffers from fibromyalgia. Her doctor has prescribed a few drugs that help, but she doesn’t like taking all that stuff. She can hardly function when she takes muscle relaxers, but they are the only thing that seems to take the edge off. She wants to be more proactive in managing her pain levels, and not solely rely on medication.
Manage chronic pain more naturally
Benchmark: No longer relies on muscle relaxers
60 minute deep tissue massage every 2 weeks
Start a meditation practice, beginning with just 5 minutes a day and working up to more time.
What do you do after you execute your plan?
You followed your plan, and it worked! (Or maybe it didn’t.) Now what?
If your plan doesn’t work, modify it or refer your client to someone who may be able to help. Changing course when something doesn’t work is part of any treatment plan.
If your plan does work, now it’s time to create a plan for continued wellness. It’s also time to tell them about your referral rewards program. Satisfied clients are one of the best ways to promote your massage therapy business!