Quite a few Thai Massage schools and trainers market their Thai Massage beginner courses with slogans that go something like this: “Learn to give Thai Massage to your friends and family in only 3 days!” or “Traditional Thai Massage for Lovers!”, “Learn Thai Yoga Massage and treat your friends and family!” All brought to you with the idea of an easy to learn, short-duration, fun training or workshop.
Honestly, I find this kind of marketing hilarious, because the truth is that giving Thai Massage (or any massage) to your friends and family is much, much harder than giving Thai Massage professionally to strangers. I would say that it needs a lot of experience to responsibly give Thai Massage to the people close to you. That sounds paradoxical, perhaps, but let me explain the thing.
You see, it’s a bit like being a professional psychologist who starts with treating his child or partner or friends. That doesn’t work, it isn’t advised either, because one is too closely related to the person, one cannot be objective, and moreover, the person being treated will often have some natural resistance to being treated by their parent, partner or friend.
The same counts for giving Thai Massage. My hardest sessions were almost always those given to a partner, family, or to a friend. There were some exceptions, but generally spoken, someone who’s very close to you will not behave as a “normal client.” For you as a massage therapist, you also run the risk to get too emotionally connected to “wanting to help” and subsequently you can become very frustrated if the receiver (in this case, your beloved friend or family) obstructs working in a cooperative manner with you.
Friends and family will usually give you all kinds of comments and directions during the session, they will interrupt the sessions at will, they will not like it when it’s painful, abandon it, want this or that, or this not, and that should be like such, and so on. It’s simply tiring. At best, friends-and-family sessions are just some fun and a play-thing, or a bit of shoulder or back-pain relief, or bonding, perhaps, but being able to actually do some deep and effective massage work is very rare.
In fact, learning to give Thai Massage to friends and family would need a whole other kind of massage training course, one that has little to do with actual massage. It would be a training that teaches you how to give loving, compassionate and tender touch to those who are close to you, one that perhaps strengthens bonding in an intelligent way, one that teaches you how to handle the limits and limitations of this very particular realm of giving massage to loved ones.