Talking with a client before the start of massage or bodywork therapy is essential to come to an understanding of what the receiver expects, wants and needs, and — not less important — of what the client can handle physically and emotionally.
Intake and inquiry are generally of more relevance in therapeutic work than in massage or bodywork that aims at relaxation, but in both cases the therapists needs to be aware of precautions to be taken and of certain contraindications, in order to be able to give responsible and safe client assessments and sessions.
As a whole, one could say that the information a client gives about their medical history, lifestyle, and physical and psychological complaints will naturally guide the therapist in coming to a clear pre-treatment assessment and subsequent design of the massage or bodywork session(s).
Even with regular clients it’s advised to again go through an inquiry phase, although this will typically take less time than with a new client. People change, their personal situation and health profile may change, and it may be vital to know what those changes are if there are any. This also includes info about the possible results obtained of a previous session. Depending on what has changed for a client, the session approach or treatment plan may need to be adapted.
Mind also that, depending on the country and the applicable liability legislation, it may be advised to let clients fill out and sign a pre-treatment form — also called Client Intake Form — through which clients predominantly answer questions about their medical history and current complaints.
This Client Intake Form is not only informative for the therapist in subsequent sessions, it’s also a disclaimer, one that can be used (or need to be used) to handle possible (legal) complaints of clients.