The chiropractor’s guide to hiring a great massage therapist

January 22, 2014


As a Chiropractor, establishing a relationship with a Massage Therapist can be beneficial both to the treatment of patients and to your practice’s bottom line. The trick is to find the right Massage Therapist. Dr. Eric Rubin, a practicing Doctor of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Instructor at the prestigious San Francisco School of Massage, has a unique perspective on the integration of Massage and Chiropractic care and offers the following advice:


When interviewing candidates:

Look for a “Match” Massage Therapy is a diverse field, and many practitioners come from differing educational backgrounds and have differing philosophies of healing. Look for a CMT whose interests are compatible with your approach to treatment, your clientele, etc. What you’re really looking for is someone who can successfully transmit your message to the client. Whether your Massage Therapist is an employee or independent contractor, they are going to become part of your patients’ healing process – you want someone who’s going to support your work.

Finding someone that naturally fits into your current practice is also a way to ensure your new CMT’s longevity and well-being-  “Look for somebody who has the capacity to deliver the type of bodywork you need delivered. You want to pick the right person so that they don’t get overstressed or injured.”

Look for “Presence” Presence is a difficult concept to pin down, but you’ll know it when you see it. Some CMTs are blessed with an innate empathetic quality which enables them to listen and to ‘be present’ with clients. This quality is especially important in a clinical environment where clients often come into the office in a good deal of discomfort. It goes without saying that you’ll need to find someone who meets the education requirement for your area – but Dr Eric Rubin prefers “to have someone who is more present than more skilled or accomplished…Technique and skill come with time and practice. There is a certain ability to connect and stay connected to a client throughout the session that not only makes for an excellent Massage Therapist, but also an excellent healer.” Find someone that has that has a natural receptivity or capacity to listen… to connect authentically with people.

Look for “Natural Inquiry” Great CMTs are inquisitive by nature. Your entire office will benefit if your Massage Therapist makes the effort to collaborate with you in the treatment of clients or at least won’t be afraid to ask when they need help or additional direction. Chiropractic care addresses a huge variety of healing and health issues – most of which are not directly discussed in massage schools. When something comes up that your CMT doesn’t recognize, you want someone who’s going to ask for guidance and use the opportunity to learn.

Look for “a Team Player” When integrating a Massage Therapist into your office, you want to make sure that you hire someone who can work with you. There are CMTs who are convinced that their training and the modalities that they practice are the most effective in the treatment of patients. You want to avoid hiring someone who is going to confuse your clients by sending mixed messages – or who accidentally or intentionally creates dissonance rather than symbiosis. If clients “hear one message from the Massage Therapist and one from the Chiropractor, ultimately it will confuse the clients and get in the way of healing.”

Look for “an Interest in Advanced Education” The perfect candidate for your office might not have a lot of continuing education hours when they apply, but they should be interested in pursuing additional education in the future. A strong foundation in Anatomy – especially functional anatomy is a huge asset for CMTs. With a strong kinesthetic understanding, Massage Therapists can work with a “higher degree of specificity, [which improves] their quality of touch.” If your Massage Therapist seeks out advanced classes, he or she will be better equipped to address complex cases, injury, tissue damage, and compounded complaints. Knowledge of Deep Tissue, Myofascial Release and Trigger Point Therapy is a plus. Additionally, training in energetic modalities can be important – especially for those cases where subtle healing would be more effective than heavy-duty bodywork.

Making it work in the long term:

Finding the right Massage Therapist is only the first step in successfully integrating Massage Therapy into your Chiropractic Practice. Give your new hires every opportunity to succeed, “be willing to invest in your massage therapists, give them an education in communication, chiropractic philosophy, and be clear about how you want that communicated back to your clients.”

Some CMTs see jobs at Chiropractic offices as a stepping stone to the rest of their career. If you want to keep the turnover of your massage staff low, create a mutually beneficial environment. Consider providing in-house trainings that provide advanced education opportunities in-house or allow your CMTs to bring in their private clients during off-hours (and ask them to refer those clients to you when appropriate).

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