The Often Overlooked Importance of the Intake Process

By David Lauterstein

It has become commonplace that massage employers, for the most part, do not allow sufficient time for their therapists to “take a history”.

I think this is horrible.

It effectively prevents the therapist from being a healthcare professional. You cannot understand a client’s problem without having time to understand its etiology, its cause. (To be sure, this is not only a major flaw of most massage therapy workplaces; it is a flaw shared by most medical practitioners these days. How many times, has a medical practitioner taken the time to get to know you, been thorough in their history taking, and only then begun to treat?)

However, being a massage therapist and teacher, I find this neglect of client history and time for a thorough intake particularly offensive. An approach that takes the whole person into account is simply common sense. I don’t consider holism to be an esoteric perspective. It is just applying systems theory to the person. To be a good health practitioner you need to take the whole person into account – body, mind and emotion.

That is integrity.

Now that history-taking has taken such a back seat, even educators have covered it insufficiently in both their academic and hands-on curriculum.

I understand the corporate model is based on booking sessions virtually back-to-back. I have compassion for their bottom-line that is organized around that. But something’s got to give and it shouldn’t be the client and it shouldn’t be the therapist.

I urge all educators, all employers, all therapists, all massage organizations to insist on the practice of history-taking. Employers, I encourage you to find a way to accomplish this.

It could be to charge by the session, not by the minute.

It could be to up the rates charged for massage.

It could be simply to realize that booking on the hour and a half, rather than the hour will be a competitive selling point for clients getting better outcomes, for the therapists (helping in their self-care, as well as giving them the valuable historical info that helps them do a better job).

It is time for the field to wake up to this particular elephant in the room and to do something about it as soon as possible.

At Lauterstein-Conway Massage School, our 500-hour program teaches future therapists about the importance and value in the intake process. To learn more about our program, contact our admissions department.