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Natural Awakenings Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte

The Difference Between Spa and Clinical Massage

Feb 28, 2017 10:51PM

by Nancy Tegan 


Massage Therapy is growing and changing in exciting directions. As a result, the profession is splitting into two distinct industries: Spa and Clinical Massage. Although all therapists are trained and capable of performing a variety of modalities, in this case, the focus of a session is the ultimate difference.  

             In Spa Massage, attention to details such as candles and music, warm towels and aromatherapy, along with the ultimate relaxation of the client is the focus. Sessions are charged by the number of minutes the therapist’s hands are on the body, and tips are expected. Sessions tend to be standardized––especially at a spa or massage chain. The modalities most often used are Swedish and deep tissue.  

            When it comes to Clinical Massage, the focus is on functional outcomes with measurable results. Client satisfaction is not assessed until a limited number of sessions are completed. Rooms are more clinical, sessions are shorter, and the number of minutes spent with hands on the body isn’t the focus. Prices are usually set by third-party payers (insurance companies) in 15–20 minute increments, and tips are rarely involved.  

            Typical goals include reducing pain, increasing range-of-motion, improving posture and reducing edema (fluid retention). The whole body is not the focus, but rather a treatment plan is developed to target specific issues for the client. The modalities used can include trigger point therapy, deep tissue massage and myofascial release, along with knowledge of assessment and other medical massage practices.  

            Research provided by the American Massage Therapy Association shows that 52% of people who received massage in the last 12 months did so for medical reasons, while 33% saw their therapist for relaxation and stress reduction. Massage is a growing field with opportunities for therapists in both spa and clinical settings. No matter what path you choose, you can learn techniques that improve the quality of life for people.  


If you are interested in learning more about massage therapy, the East West College of Natural Medicine is now enrolling for their Massage Therapy Program (MM 32746). For more information, call 941-355-9080 or visit the campus, located at 3808 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Nancy Tegan, B.S., MAEd, LMT, NCBTMB, is the Massage Therapy Program Lead Instructor. 








Natural Awakenings of Sarasota March 2020 Digital Edition