To find a massage therapist, a good therapist, someone who understands medical conditions, someone with lots of experience working with your type of pain, folks usually have to do a little investigating.
Many types of massage therapists work in different settings like salons, physicians offices, chiropractors offices, fitness centers, hospitals, even horse farms and retirement communities.
But, massage therapists who have years of experience, in many different types of massage jobs, can often be found in private practice, where they make the most money for their experience.
1) Go to AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association)
This is a professional organization for licensed massage therapists only. They offer a "Find a Massage Therapist" locator service where you can search by city and state, but also by the types of massage the therapist specializes in/offers and the types of massage jobs they have had in the past.
2) Ask your physician
You doctor knows you and your health issues well. He/she might be able to help you find a massage therapist who can address your pain syndromes or medical conditions specifically. For instance, if you suffer from migraines, you may be referred to a massage therapist who specializes in migraine pain relief.
3) Ask your friends
Friends will tell you honestly what massage therapist in your area knows their stuff...and knows it well. Don't hesitate to ask around via social media, church friends, work friends, or family. Someone around you knows a massage professional that they can recommend.
4) Use the Internet
Google "Massage San Diego" or whatever city you live in. Look at websites for a therapist that is trained in the type of massage you are interested in getting.
Use Yelp. Yelp will also give you ratings by actual customers who have used the therapist you are interested in calling.
Usually after the first appointment, you are much more comfortable scheduling because you know the therapist, what massage jobs they have had, what happens during his/her sessions, as well as the routine of the massage.
If you are still unsure about the types of massage therapy available, The Book of Massage: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Eastern and Western Technique teaches more about how to choose the massage techniques that are best for you, whether it be a more traditional Oriental therapy or a more modern spa therapy, and the benefits of each for your health. It includes pictures of illustrations of techniques along with step-by-step instructions for trying massage at home!
Often folks don't even try to find a massage therapist because they are scared...unsure of what will happen, if it will hurt, if it will be uncomfortable due to their size or some other form of physical disability.
Massage therapists perform many clinical hours of massage before even applying for a state license. In massage school, therapists are trained to work on all body shapes, and many types of folks with disabilities.
When you call to schedule you appointment, ask lots of questions about the therapist's training and be very informative about your fears and physical issues so that he/she can be prepared to provide the best massage possible for your situation....no matter what that is!
Here is a step-by-step explanation of what happens in a "First Massage" session, as well as questions to ask when you call for an appointment, and what to expect from the time you walk in to the time you leave, so you don't have to fear this wonderful, healing therapy.
Sometimes it helps to watch a video about what happens in a massage session before you make the appointment. This full body massage video clip might help you feel more comfortable about scheduling your session.
Some folks are just so fearful of massage because they are afraid of something uncomfortable happening. This will not happen with a professional therapist.
It may help you to read what other people have written about their own first massage stories!
But, you can read about how to deal with inappropriate behavior, so that you know what do do in a situation where the therapist is acting "unprofessional".