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Controversial Touch Issues In Thai Massage

Thai Massage is a close contact massage system. The client’s body is moved all over the place by the therapist. You can’t do this from a distance. The therapist has to get in close and use his or her body and body weight to accomplish those techniques.

In Thailand this is normal and nobody gives it a second thought. However in the western world many therapists have to figure out what they are comfortable with or not, and what their boundaries are. 

These boundaries can be reasonable and useful, but if they are applied excessively, they can also be unnecessarily restrictive and prevent the therapist from doing essential therapeutic work. 

Are there inappropriate areas, no-go zones, off-limit situations in Thai Massage? Yes, there are, but they are a lot smaller and there are a lot fewer of them than many therapists would think. 

This video discusses this topic from the viewpoint of the environment in Thailand. It is mostly useful information for practicing Thai Massage therapists.

I you would like to see the other videos of the Tips And Tricks video series, you can find them all here:
Thai Massage Tips And Tricks

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Shama headshot with frame 400pxThe author, Shama Kern, is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 online Thai Massage training courses. He can be reached at shama@thaihealingmassage.com.

10 thoughts on “Controversial Touch Issues In Thai Massage

  1. Thank you very much!
    You explained the topic very simple. As a practitioner I don’t have this issue, but some people might, and this short video is very helpful for this purpose.

  2. My clients trust me completely and they know i have a high reguard for them.
    Everything you said is valuable to know and in knowing everyone can relax and allow the healing to begin on all levels.

  3. Yes I agree with you Shama! Let the massage flow! Massage therapists get caught up in explaining to much! I think from a woman’s prospective I can totally understand that! Just because I let it flow and be nice to my male clients I personally have encountered problems! Men think if you be nice that you should be willing to give them a ” Happy Ending!”. I am sick when A client asks. I stop them right there! Not all male clients ask but a few bold ones have. I just put them in their place and end the session. What would you suggest Shama?

    • Once a client asks this question, then yes, you should terminate the session. However in this case an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

      When I have a new client, I spend a few minutes explaining what Thai Massage is all about. I frame it very clearly as a professional session, and after my intro talk there is no doubt in my client’s mind what it is all about. It think this would be the best strategy for you to adopt. If you want to see exactly how I do that, I have a little video course which demonstrates the entire process:
      https://thaihealingmassage.com/info/communication-secrets-for-massage-therapy/

  4. Shama, could not agree more with all said on this video about inappropriate touch. Thank you for all of these videos. I hope I can purchase every single one of them. Sat Nam.

  5. I work at an extremely regimented corporate massage chain, and we have rules even as to “always keeping at least one foot on the floor” and the draping must always be *perfect* or we risk termination. It’s slightly terrifying trying to flow when god forbid a sheet becomes unfolded and falls from the mid thigh to the knee and we can’t even fix it for fear it will be misconstrued as inappropriate. No one ever means to give an inappropriate illusions, of course. In order to practice Thai massage I will really need to adjust and adapt draping and body mechanics.

    Even after all this nonsense some clients do get a little too friendly. For this reason, I feel that Shama’s explanation of Thai massage is SUCH a wonderful tool to set the client’s expectations immediately to the purpose of the session. Sometimes the inclusion of fanatical draping, overly corporate uniforms meant for modesty and brochures detailing massage’s purpose still do not do the job. A simple conversation with the client, person to person, is the best way to communicate!

    • I guess this means that you would not use Thai Massage as a separate modality in your spa. Because if you do, you wouldn’t have to worry about draping since Thai Massage is done fully dressed. However if you blend some Thai Massage techniques in with your table/oil massage work, then yes, the draping is an issue since you move body parts around quite a bit in Thai Massage. I am so glad that I live in Thailand where no such stringent rules exist and where it is all so much more relaxed and easy going. Here nobody cares if a sheet slips a bit during oil massage – that’s just a non-issue…

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