The answer that I had in mind was 'clients.'
But the answers that came from friends in and out of the massage profession were much more interesting. Only one said 'clients.' Here are their answers.
'Magic fingers.' 'Big heart.' 'Body mechanics.' 'A caring temperament and a love of healing.'
And I agree; all of these are necessary and these answers are at the heart of a good massage therapist.
Technical skills and knowledge of anatomy and physiology are very important but massage is not only a technical skill. When someone comes to a massage therapist they usually have needs on many levels.
Clients may need quiet time to himself or herself, someone who accepts and cares for them regardless of their flaws, someone who will listen or interact. They may have pain and are hopeful of getting rid of it. They may feel stressed or anxious.
Every massage therapist is different. We all have different skill levels, personalities, backgrounds and histories. We went to different schools, had different instructors and have different beliefs. Some of us had extensive advanced training and some don't.
There are a ton of different techniques and disagreement even between massage practitioners about how they are provided. No wonder a client can be confused!
So who's the best massage therapist for you? The one you feel comfortable with and who meets your needs whether they are a quiet time to yourself, getting rid of pain, discovering the cause of your pain or a vacation-in-an-hour.
Oh, were you wondering why I asked my original question about what do massage therapists need? My answer is 'clients' because no clients, no business. And that's why I wrote How To Grow Your Massage Business to help my colleagues become better therapists and get and keep more clients. :)
Signing off now from Trenton, Michigan,
Your massage therapist,