Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Massage Therapist

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Is your character a massage therapist? Learn all the information about this job so you can write it authentically. The occupation thesaurus can help. Occupation: Massage Therapist

Overview: A massage therapist will evaluate a client for injuries and then manipulate muscle and soft tissue to bring them relief from pain, help heal injuries, improve circulation, alleviate stress and offer relaxation and overall wellness. They may specialize in a variety of modalities (Swedish, Hot Stone, Aromatherapy, Deep Tissue, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Sports massage, Pregnancy massage, etc.) and work in different environments such as spas, doctor’s offices, sports clinics, hotels, chiropractic centers, and fitness centers. Some massage therapists build a practice where they work on location (coming to someone’s home, office, or a hotel) bringing their own equipment, lotions, and oils. Others may run a massage salon from their own home.

Massage therapists need healthy stamina, strength, and dexterity as while some sessions may be short, most are often 60-90 minutes of applying pressure and resistance techniques using the hands, fingers, knuckles, forearms, arms, and elbows. They must also be good at communication to ensure they can properly assess a client’s condition and diagnose what might be causing an injury so it can be treated effectively.

Once a treatment is finished the therapists will recommend follow up (stretches, exercises, posture adjustments, avoiding certain activities) and make further recommendations for managing symptoms or to see a doctor for further diagnosis.

Necessary Training: Most therapists enter a post secondary program that is part classroom study, part hands on massage. Programs often require 500 hours of practice and have an exam. Additional time will be required to specialize in a modality. Certified therapists may require a license to practice depending on where they operate, pass a background check, and may need to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, basic first aid, charm, empathy, enhanced hearing, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, high pain tolerance, hospitality, reading people, regeneration, strategic thinking, strong breath control, super strength

Helpful Character Traits:

POSITIVE: Adaptable, analytical, cautious, curious, disciplined, discreet, empathetic, focused, friendly, industrious, meticulous, observant, organized, patient, perceptive, persistent, professional, sensible, supportive, tolerant

NEGATIVE: controlling, gossipy, perfectionist, workaholic

Sources of Friction: A client being evasive about symptoms out of embarrassment, a client not disclosing a condition (like pregnancy) or injury, having someone on the table who is highly medicated and less able to offer feedback during a session regarding pain levels, clients who don’t like to be touched, clients who “read into” the massage in a sexual way, being told secrets or gossip about others one knows or must work with by a client, people who are demanding and try to tell the practitioner how to do their job, people who are fussy and make demands about how the appointment will be run, clients who try to get out of payment after the service is complete, credit cards that are declined, working at an office with poor hygienic standards, working at a clinic that requires one take on a too-high client load, bad contracts that make unreasonable requests or demands that are outside the scope of one’s work, suffering an injury or strain on the job, working on clients who are overly obese which stretches ones strength and stamina, requests for “a happy ending”

People They Might Interact With: clients, doctors, chiropractors, administration, suppliers

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Esteem and Recognition: A character who has traditionally struggled with feeling valued by others may seek out this career to directly influence the health and wellness of others, drawing much satisfaction from the appreciation of clients as the pain and stress from injuries and other events is lifted, returning them to a state of better health.
  • Love and Belonging: A character who is in a long term relationship with someone who suffers from injuries or a condition that requires a lot of massage therapy (say, after a car accident or workplace incident) may choose this career in order to provide the care their loved one needs to live a normal life.

Common Work-Related Settings: airport, beach, cruise ship, fitness center, hotel room, penthouse suite, rec center, spa, therapist’s office, yacht

Twisting the Fictional Stereotype:

Massage therapists are often portrayed as hot young guys or beautiful, small framed women, but the reality is that the muscle manipulation requires a lot of core strength. Make sure your character’s body type fits the profession and remember the “hotness” level has nothing to do with this career.

Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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