When to Refer Massage Clients to Others

Every massage therapist encounters times in his or her career when it makes sense to refer a client to someone else, such as a physician, a chiropractor, a physical therapist or another massage therapist. Evaluate each client on a case by case basis to determine the best course of action for referrals.

Referring to Other Health Care Professions

It is essential that you refer clients to other professionals if you are aware that they have any health conditions that are outside of your scope of practice. You could be aware of these conditions through:

  • The client’s health history on the client intake form
  • Something you observe when you are giving a massage
  • Something the clients tells you
  • If you have suggested to a client that he or she see another professional, note your recommendation in the clients file for future reference.

Referring to Another Massage Therapist

If your massage practice is full, you may find yourself turning away clients. This situation allows you to decide if you will expand your practice to include other massage therapists, or simply refer out.

If you refer clients, send them to a colleague in the massage therapy profession (with their agreement that he or she can accept more clients), or direct them to a wider selection, such as AMTA’s Find a Massage Therapist locator service.

In other instances, working with a particular massage therapy client could result in conflict or discomfort for you. If you are unable to resolve the issue, you may need to stop working with that client for your own well-being.

If your client interaction exhibits these signs, consider referring them to another massage therapist:

  • The client consistently asks you to use techniques that are outside your area of training or comfort zone.
  • You find it difficult to maintain appropriate boundaries with the client
  • You instinctively feel fear or anger toward the client. If you believe this is due to bad chemistry between you, you could refer the person to another massage therapist.
  • However, if you believe the client’s issues are beyond the control of a qualified massage therapist do not refer them to a colleague.

Whatever the cause, when you determine that you should no longer give massages to that person, you should politely and clearly explain the reason to the client.

"I chose AMTA because they are committed to advancing the profession."

Jackie R., AMTA member since 2011