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Question: Advice on how to deal with 'undesirables' please. I don't want to exclude male clients totally.

Asked by IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

27 answers

I have recently had a bad experience with a client and as I am new to the Profession it has knocked my confidence. My partner says I should make a 'statement' when clients book but I don't want to offend any one. Not all men are this way inclined but I am now very nervous of male clients and don't want them to feel uncomfortable. Most of my clients have been men so far and I cannot afford to have a 'women only' policy. Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

Treatments:
Therapeutic Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Reflexology, Deep Tissue Massage

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HolisticSanctuary 3 years ago

Yes, it's a tricky one, and I've had one or two similar experiences! It does unsettle you and makes you feel both very cross and vulnerable.

Do you work from home or a rented place? I work from home and if I have a male client that is unknown to me (not a partner or recommended by someone), I have insisted that they attend when my husband is home.

The other way is to say when they book that ...'there will be another car in the drive, but you are OK to park nearby - that car is my husband's as he works from home, etc.... that usually deters any undesirables. I've had a number of phone enquiries cut off at that point!

If you work from a salon, try and have someone else in the building when seeing a male for the first time.

On your leaflets and website if you have one, have a statement to the effect that .....'I am a professionally qualified therapist and any intimation of improper behaviour or sexual suggestion the phone call or treatment will be terminated. Please do not offend in this way.'

Have a 'salon etiquette policy' clearly stated; ladies to wear underwear and gentlemen to wear boxer shorts at all times etc.,

A colleague made a recording of general conversation and chit-chat between a male and female and had it playing in an adjacent treatment room when treating an unknown male for the first time; it gave the impression of others being on the premises.

When a male is preparing for a treatment and you have explained the treatment and are going to wash your hands in preparation, you can casually say that you are .....just going to wash your hands and I'll ask Rob (or whatever name you think of), to man the phones during your massage/reflexology,'.... gives the impression of another male support colleague on the premises.

Hope that helps, and don't let it put you off, fortunately most men out there are decent guys!

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thankyou so much for all your advice. I work from homem my partner is alway around for 1st time male clients. I thankfully have not had face to face issues yet. This was a man who harrased me with lude calls and texts for a period of a week or more and it got under my skin, I will take it all on board. x

NikkiFeeney 3 years ago

I think this is very good advice, i would also advise that you have a phone consultation with all new clients (i do this with male and female) to discuss their requirements and expectations, you will get an idea from that if there is any wrong intention or misunderstanding. If you are unsure, offer them a "cooling off period" this will give them time to think about if they are going to embarrass themselves if they have the wrong idea. Tell them to call you back in 2 days if they still want to book with you. And lastly dont take it personally, you will come across it every now and then it could have been a lot worse. Seems you are taking precautions and will be fine. Good luck for the future x

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

thank you , very sensible. As it happens I had a call today where the man asked if I would have any problem treating his 'inguinal hernias' with massage??!! I gave him an out and he hasn't rung back!

AndrewWolfeLMP 3 years ago

I feel I need to chime in as a male therapist of 24 years. I have worked with both men and woman and have had both genders try to suggest or out right ask of unprofessional needs to be meet. You have to be firm in yourself and your people skills and abilities. When you touch people you evoke sometimes others feeling,experiences,emotions and memory in people. Remember you are the one in control. Be VERy CLEAR with this! I have told new therapists to work on yourself not just in receiving massages but internal work. Again be clear with yourself and your own "stuff". A lot can be reflected back to you as the LAW of ATTRACTION! It doesn't make you a bad therapist or person just someone, as like all of us, with "stuff".

4ForYou 3 years ago

Hello,

Among all other services we are specialising in one that is more problematic in this subject...
We are offering professional synchronized 4 hands massage for male, women and couples in London. The best then is phone conversation with regards to client’s expectation, that way I’m eliminating not genuine ones.
You have to be strict what massage you offer and sometimes if you have a doubt it’s better to tell them literally what you are not offering, than deal with it latter.
There is certain types of massages that work as a hidden code for not genuine clients, just never be associated with any of them !

My favourite clients’ query is along the line: I hope that you are not one of these place that offers massage of sexual nature
and once I reassure their concern, they never book any massage ;o)

Unfortunately even if you are clear and your website is straight forward, you might find an idiot.... I’ve had once client who enquired one of our massage services for couples massage workshop and ask if we could provide a partner for him also ....

Best regards
Anna

Other answers (26)

Ahrlene 3 years ago

What a shame you have had such a bad experience so early on in your career. Hopefully it will not stop you taking male clients because very often they need somewhere they can go to get proper and expert treatments as much as women. I have been doing the job for quite some time now and many of my clients are men from all walks of life. I tend to take a very businesslike approach with men and right from the start outline how the massage will go, their dress mode and the way I will go about the massage. Setting boundaries right at the beginning of the massage is a must and this starts with what you wear and this is where a uniform speaks volumes. You are a professional and you look like a professional and you treat your clients in a professional and respectfull way. I have found that setting this tone right from the starts works well with men who very often are more nervous about the whole procedure than we give them credit for and follow through with the way you carry out your work and the tone of voice you use and very often thes stops people from stepping over the mark. Once you know them a bit better and they have become regulars then you can relax more.

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thankyou for your very informative answer.

ChrissieC 3 years ago

Hi there, I must get at least one telephone call a month from men asking if I do full body massage 'au natural'. I make it clear before the booking that the service is a professional therapy not just a body massage. I also put a statement on my consultation sheet and on the web site stating that any approaches or suggestions of an offencive or sexsual nature will result in the client being asked to leave immediately with no refund and with the potential for their details to be passed to the police in serious cases. It has not stopped the telephone enquiries but I don't get any problems in the workplace.

I also inform them that my partner will be around.

You will have to consider carefully how you word your statement though.

Good luck.
Christine

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Good idea about the consultation form thankyou.

Oakynleaf 3 years ago

This crap happens all the time, and I always ask if these stories were reported to the police. Did you file an official complaint against this guy? Harrassment, threatening advances, or exposure is not legal. holisticsanctuary gave you a fine safety plan (below), but it really bites that these guys do what they do and no charges are ever filed and they go off to harrass the next massage therapist. Come to BOUNDARIES in FaceBook and you will get daily support from lots of massage therapists.

Sources: http://www.facebook.com/claude.ratliff1

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thanks, yes I did make a complaint and the police verbally warned him and will 'throw the book at him' if there is a next time. I am sure it is happening alot to me as I am a new fish. x

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

How do I find 'BOUNDARIES' ?? THANKYOU

AntonettePatou 3 years ago

Your partner is right, you should make it clear at the start, before the male client books that it is a non sexual, non sensual massage, otherwise wires can get crossed.True, not all men are this way inclined, but touch can still arouse a man and he can't help the obvious indication of his arousal. If this occurs during the massage then go straight to the scalp and forehead area of the head and work the base of the scull, as this often diffuses any sensual sensation, otherwise avoid men altogether. If you are prepared to do that little bit more with your hands, then that often means crossing boundaries where it can make you feel uncomfortable. So clarity from the onset is important.such indicating that underwear is kept on during the session

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thankyou for that advice, I hope I dont need it!!

meljo70 3 years ago

You really need to make your statement, the men who are not"like that" will not take offence, they will be apalled by what other men will do. I have had some bad experiences too, I really does take a long time to get over, and maybe won't. I will always be on your mind with someone new.
What I try and do is book new males when another person is working. When males call for an appointment stress to them what you offer if it is liscenced or registered and ask if that is what they are looking for.
When you are truly unsure, keep yourself close to the door or your cell phone with you

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thankyou x

townshendmt 3 years ago

I had a bad experience while still working in my schools clinic. From that I learned a lot.
In all my materials, I clearly state that I provide theraputic, safe, NON-SEXUAL massage. I also have a statement on my intake form that they must read and initial. So far in my private practice this has worked very well and has not caused any issues for me. Hope this helps and that it doesn't stop you from practicinig.

helenbrightlady 3 years ago

For my part, I always act professionally, I concentrate on what I say and never use any ambiguous language and I always wear a massage uniform including shoes. I leave the client to change in private before and after the massage. When doing the massage I ensure that the client is suitably covered at all times and my pressure is firm and certain.

I have thought about what I would do if a client behaved inappropriately - initially I would advise them that it is not appropriate language or action and if they continue then the massage will stop. If they do continue then ask them to leave and advise they are not welcome back if they cannot behave. If they are very inappropriate or won't cease and desist, then report them to the police.

You need to project a confident demeanor and not appear to be vulnerable. That is what people like that are looking for to take advantage of.

On my website and when talking to clients I talk about massage as a therapy. I stay away from using any other language even to say "not included". In my opinion, if people don't see the words then they are less likely to think in inappropriate terms. Also, I always refer to myself as a massage therapist and not a masseuse. The second term has evolved to have different connotations.

I treat clients in my home and don't have a partner, but I am lucky with male neighbours on both sides who are more than happy to step in if need be. Thankfully, I have several male clients and they are always well behaved.

hope this helps.
Helen :-)

Answer Comments

NikkiFeeney 3 years ago

stay away from using any other language even to say "not included". In my opinion, if people don't see the words then they are less likely to think in inappropriate terms
I feel this is a good point, i have never had an issue and am mobile and work from home, i make no reference to any sexual connotation either way and it seems to keep the issue at bay.

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thank you so much

mmm2hands 3 years ago

In addition to everything already said in response to your question, I would simply add that YOU and only YOU are in control of whom you will take on and work with as your clients. As has been mentioned previously, all it takes is one incident from a male client to set the wrong tone for any future appointments so that is the time to draw the line with your own boundaries and decide not to work with a particular client further. Keep in mind, you would probably like to work with everyone that comes through your door, but there are always exceptions that arise in both genders and, bottomline, YOU make the decision who gets on your table and who doesn't.

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thank you x

WendyChaplin 3 years ago

I agree with this but would also say go with your gut feeling, if you don't get the right vibes or feel right about it then don't do it. Sometimes you don't even know why it doesn't. I work alongside a male therapist and we pass clients between us if we are unsure or think it would be more appropriate.

ianh67 3 years ago

Hi i am a male therapist doing massage and waxing and still get the odd text and calls from clients, like you at first it un nerved me for a bit but now i have been doing it for 5 years you get to ignore them and carry on prof. As long as you state from the begining its a non sexual service they soon give up. Dont take is personal and let them know there are plenty of other therapist out there then will cater for their needs!.good luck and dont let it deture you
XXXX

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thanks xx

PrincessSoraya 3 years ago

--When you take the booking, tell the client that you are a Professional
and you only do what the treatment is. Specify that you are member of BABTAC
or FHT or any other organization.

--Explain that according to the organization rules, you perform all your treatments
in the boundary of that organization.

--When the client comes for the first time, if possible have a friend, cleaner
or a family member there, visible to client. That way they know you are not alone.

I hope these help.
Thankyou

bespoketherapyandskincare 3 years ago

This is a tricky one. Most of my clients are female, however when I did advertise recently I got a few male responses, which I must be honest made me a bit nervous. Anyway I decided to go ahead and although nothing was actually said I did feel uncomfortable and I think the suggestion was there, so I have always specified 'women only' from then on. I try to make my adverts as female orientated as possible.

3 years ago

Tons of great responses and advice, from what I have read so far. The only other thing I can offer is that please don't be afraid of having men as clients, altogether. Out of the (literally) thousands of massages I have done, I have had only one "bad" experience. You have unfortunately dealt with one early in your career, but be assured, (at least in my experience) that is a rarity.

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

thankyou Lisa xx

Fitinfitness 3 years ago

Hi , you must know your target people, either men or women or both , make sure what you are offering and sharp statement , it wont put people of because profesional people love working profesional and serious people that why why we call professional , because they exactly know what they looking for.
make your business plan and ask why you are operating this service , who for , what for
when you grow your business you will see range of people and some of the people will try out your nerves be strong, you provide a good quality service you must believe that and than whatver people ask you you must have your answer ready if not you will lose a client , no one afford losing client
go for branding this is the best way doing business,

]by the way if you operate your service I would like to talk about it because I am looking for pro masaagist

info@fitinfitness.co.uk

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thankyou for your answer it is very helpful.

Emmastalker68 3 years ago

I specialise in male waxing so obviously with naked men on my couch they have to be aware that I take no messing around without offending the normal everyday blokes who are very nervous because they think therapists will think they are a secret pervert!!
If you check out my website you'll see the statement that I make - I got 1 too a few months after I started-1 and only in over 4 years but i'm old enough and ugly enough to not let it get to me and it was the best decision i ever made to continue with my male clients
Keep your chin up and don't look at every man as a possible pervert - I have some fantastic clients and if you catch their confidence and make them feel comfortable you'll grow an extremely loyal client base!!
Emma

Sources: http://www.Xtremebodywax.co.uk

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thanks, I checked out your site. Good advice.

Emmastalker68 3 years ago

I specialise in male waxing so obviously with naked men on my couch they have to be aware that I take no messing around without offending the normal everyday blokes who are very nervous because they think therapists will think they are a secret pervert!!
If you check out my website you'll see the statement that I make - I got 1 too a few months after I started-1 and only in over 4 years but i'm old enough and ugly enough to not let it get to me and it was the best decision i ever made to continue with my male clients
Keep your chin up and don't look at every man as a possible pervert - I have some fantastic clients and if you catch their confidence and make them feel comfortable you'll grow an extremely loyal client base!!
Emma

Sources: http://www.Xtremebodywax.co.uk

HawaiianMassage 3 years ago

Tricky one, indeed. I’m a male therapist and occasionally get guys asking if I offer “extras”, even though all my ads clearly state that it’s not a sexual service.

I think it’s fine to be upfront with new clients at the start... explain clearly what the treatment involves.

My partner also gives treatments from her own home and does have a women-only policy, only having male clients when they have been recommended via her female clients. This has worked well for her, but obviously it may effect your client list.

Don’t let it knock your confidence. As others here have said, most men are decent guys just wanting a lovely professional massage.

On a MUCH lighter note, check out this amusing YouTube clip on the subject....
http://youtu.be/btheeIEDIrE

David

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Ha that's funny , thanks. x

Goddess1981 3 years ago

Hi! I have a woman only policy. I do man but only if recommended by a female customer. I have the "Woman ONLY" and "Strictly NOT SEXUAL" written everywhere- website, leaflets etc. but I still get almost daily phone calls from guys saying how much they would do with a nice ralxing time :) Some of them just don't listen. I am mobile and I will not change my policy. I guess other therapists gave you some really good advice and hopefully it will help you stay safe! Good luck x

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thankyou x

David1601 3 years ago

Most of my client base were (gay) men, at some point,my experience is, all all men will at some point want "extra",unless they are sports men. It's a funny old game, I am a male, women don't want treatments in case I abuse them,straight men don't want me as they are "gay" for being massaged by a man, gay men want extra...what can you do.If you massage men, be sure to get their details first, don't let them near your house, don't go to their house. We're not all predators, but just one is enough.

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

It's a jungle out there! thanksxx

angelscorpio 3 years ago

when i first started out i had a males looking for the sort of treatments i did not do so i did adopt a women ony policy but if men want to come along then i have asked them to first bring a partner or freind and if they dont wish to then dont do the treatment..x

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Good idea x

3 years ago

I too have had a bad experience. I used to do out calls, but no longer off them to people I haven't met before unless they have a direct referral to an existing client. How is your business ran? Do you work from home or do you rent a space? You can be strict about filtering out the potential bad ones if you use a referral based system, or if you just let your potential male clients know that it is a professional massage and that you will be accompanied by another therapist or personnel. It's always good to make sure there are other people around when you are practicing, just to be safe. Hope this helps give you back your confidence.

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Thank you. I work from home and am going to be very up front now over the phone. xx

healingx 3 years ago

These are great answers!

For some time I have had a pet peeve that I would like to voice and this may be a good opportunity.
We, as professionals, should stop using the term "Deep Tissue". As far as I am concerned, there is no such thing. Most people that ask for deep tissue are confused about Therapeutic Massage and need things clarified.

Deep work is best done without oil or with low glide oil, so you do not injure your hands. If you are using glide or cream to do a deep tissue massage, you may find that you will have a short duration as far a your profession as a massage therapist goes.

We need to re-educate our clients to understand that there really is no "deep tissue" type massage. You could offer NeuroMuscular or some other technique to affect the deeper muscles/tendons and get away from the term "deep tissue". I had one group of guys tell me that they understood that deep tissue was something else (other than "legitimate" massage). So I believe it is commonly understood that Deep Tissue means something else and they are confused when they see it.

I offer Swedish Massage which is helpful in down regulating the nervous system resulting in less pain. I also offer NeuroMuscular (NMT) which is performed fully clothed (and ask them to please wear lose clothing) and I do not use oil. It is best for people with a structural issues like back, neck, shoulder pain etc.

I consider them both therapeutic in different ways. If someone insists on deep swedish type. I explain that my swedish is not "light" but of good weight but if they have something they would like worked out. I highly recommend NMT for it to be effective (as swedish will not be). I then explain that swedish is very relaxing and geared toward the nervous system, so if they want to relax, this is the modality to choose.

I completely avoid the term deep tissue at every cost. I suggest we start a movement to remove this term. If you feel you must offer something that says "deep" , try some of the wording mentioned earlier to offset the confusion for the sake of us all.

Best of luck

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

I selected this phrase from a choice of treatments when creating my profile.I did not make this phrase up. What I do find is that people have little idea what swedish is and even less, N.M.T.So as I do a lot of sports people they seem to connect with the phrase 'deep tissue'. Actually what I do for them is Swedish at a light warm-up into harder pressure then NMT but I dont use NMT as a point of sale, I educate them while I do it if they seem interested. A few men that think 'ooer sounds a bit like bum' are surely not enough to change what is quite a descriptive term for the laymen/women to comprehend.

NaturalGrace 3 years ago

You've been given a lot of good advice already. On the rare occasion that I have been asked If I offer any extras or tantric massage or anything else sexual I become ultra professional and state that I "No I do not offer those services". I also tell that client that I am not the therapist for them.

I also wanted to comment on healingx comment about the word "deep tissue massage". I have no issues with the word. Most people assume that Swedish massage is a light massage and feel that deep tissue will really get into the muscles. What I do explain to clients asking for deep tissue massage is that I work slowly and deeply but working with their muscles rather than just pumelling away or tryingto push their body through the massage table. I also explain that the start of the massage will be without me using oil. I use Myofascial release techniques and rolfing techniques and will use oil about 10 - 15 minutes into the massage. I'll use other techniques as needed such as soft tissue release or trigger point therapy but I don't explain the ins and outs of the techniques just the reasons that I am using them if they are interested. I tend to describe my massage as therapeutic as I use so many different techniques within one session and don't stick the swedish style strokes I learnt at the start of my career. Clients are generally interested in how they can be helped rather than hearing about the array of techiniques we use.

laurasmobilebeautytreats 3 years ago

Hi,
I've had a similar problem. I just say at the beginning of the call

"sorry if this offends you but due to previous bad experiences I have to make it clear from the word go that I dont offer anything sexual do you want to continue with the conversation?"

No-one has been offended and the ones that are after something else just hang up.

Good luck!

Sources: http://www.laurasmobilebeautytreats.com

Amylouise25 3 years ago

The easiest way to get around this is to always have some one the house/or their house that is female or your partner.
As for getting phones calls, I am too new to the business myself to be able to answer as I still haven't found a way around this, however Holistic Sanctuary's suggestion seems to be fair and reasonable and one I shall adopt myself in future, so put those messages on your advertisements and webpages and hopefully those calls will stop and you won't get any more undesirables through your door.
Don't let it knock your confidence, your still learning, change your methods and you will get the clients you deserve and who deserve you.
Good luck xxx

Sources: http://www.climbingroseholistictherapies.co.uk/80375/info.php?p=9

healing-experience 3 years ago

Much of it can be due to advertising. Do you have any suggestive wording or pictures on your website or other advertising? How about the name of your business? Start by doing a short intake when they first call for a massage. What are they looking for in a massage, what has been their experience, etc. Also state that you only offer professional, nonsexual massage and if that is not what they are looking for, suggest they look elsewhere. I would advise that you have "professiona, nonsexual massage" in all of your advertising (websites, brochures, business cards, links on other websites). You need to convey the professional nature of the massage, and there are no "happy endings.". I find it is a constant uphill battle with the public and also the medical community.

Sources: http://www.ahealingexperiencemassage.com

Answer Comments

IsleofWightMassage 3 years ago

Hi, no my advertising is spot on, a bit too clinical if anything! I think it is just that ( as there have been four in a week now) I am a new face and these guys trawl the businesses looking for the new ones to see if they can chance it, having been turned down by all the others, hopefully. There are loads of sexual massage services on offer too so why they dont go straight to them beats me, must be in denial! x

AndrewWolfeLMP 3 years ago

.I feel I need to chime in as a male therapist of 24 years. I have worked with both men and woman and have had both genders try to suggest or out right ask of unprofessional needs to be meet. You have to be firm in yourself and your people skills and abilities. When you touch people you evoke sometimes others feeling,experiences,emotions and memory in people. Remember you are the one in control. Be VERy CLEAR with this! I have told new therapists to work on yourself not just in receiving massages but internal work. Again be clear with yourself and your own "stuff". A lot can be reflected back to you as the LAW of ATTRACTION! It doesn't make you a bad therapist or person just someone, as like all of us, with "stuff".

4ForYou 3 years ago

Hello,

Among all other services we are specialising in one that is more problematic in this subject...
We are offering professional synchronized 4 hands massage for male, women and couples in London. The best then is phone conversation with regards to client’s expectation, that way I’m eliminating not genuine ones.
You have to be strict what massage you offer and sometimes if you have a doubt it’s better to tell them literally what you are not offering, than deal with it latter.
There is certain types of massages that work as a hidden code for not genuine clients, just never be associated with any of them !

My favourite clients’ query is along the line: I hope that you are not one of these place that offers massage of sexual nature
and once I reassure their concern, they never book any massage ;o)

Unfortunately even if you are clear and your website is straight forward, you might find an idiot.... I’ve had once client who enquired one of our massage services for couples massage workshop and ask if we could provide a partner for him also ....

Best regards
Anna
http://www.4foryou.co.uk

Sources: http://www.4foryou.co.uk

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