The first thing you want to check is to see if the therapist is licensed and insured. In the state of New York to offer massage and bodywork a practitioner must be licensed. There are definitely other professions (chiropractors, physical therapists, doctors) who can provide manual therapies as well, but if someone is manipulating your soft tissue with their hands or an instrument, they must have a license to practice. Getting a license isn’t just a formality – you have to graduate from an accredited school, complete a set number of supervised clinic hours and pass a state licensing test. Once licensed, to maintain that status a therapist must pass continuing education classes – a good therapist will be excited to talk about their latest class and share their new techniques with you. Massage licensing is relatively new to New York and the U.S. in comparison to other countries so make sure to check out if your therapist has taken the appropriate steps.
When you become a Licensed Massage Therapist, you’re able to get liability insurance. This is a safety net that would help if there are any lawsuits filed as a result of a massage session. If your therapist doesn’t have insurance, you’d want to find out why and I’d recommend seeing someone else. You wouldn’t let someone build you a house who didn’t have insurance, so why let someone work on your 100% irreplaceable body without insurance? If your therapist has the credentials and insurance to back up their experience, he/she won’t mind sharing that information with you, but if you feel nervous about asking them, and then please check on their status.