To Tip or Not to Tip?

Ask a Therapist

By Cherie Sohnen-Moe

Originally published in Body Sense magazine.

Q. Being fairly new to massage, I’m always unsure about whether to tip or not? Is there some sort of tipping protocol like in dining, or is tipping my massage therapist like tipping my doctor?

A. It’s very much an individual decision, says Cherie Sohnen-Moe, a consultant for the massage profession. “You should always be getting a good massage for the fee. A tip is a thank you. But it shouldn’t be a required part of service.” Sohnen-Moe says if your therapist did something exceptional or gave you extra time, then tipping can be a nice gesture. But what if I tip this time and not next time? “Personally,” she says, “that’s why I want my clients relaxing and getting the services, not thinking anything about money.”

If there is any sort of protocol around tipping therapists, Sohnen-Moe says it’s found in spas and salons. These therapists usually have no control over what you are being charged and also don’t reap your full payment. “Typically therapists are underpaid in a lot of the salons and spas, and those tips make their day.” Health spas, however, usually employ a No Tipping policy.

When it comes to tipping, Sohnen-Moe says, “Go with your instinct. If you want to give someone a tip, do so. But don’t feel obligated. You’re paying a decent fee for the services; but if you feel moved and want to give a little extra, spread the joy.” Finally, she reminds us, “There are ways to show appreciation other than tipping.” Referring your therapist to others is a huge way of saying thank you, and a simple note is often a memorable sign of gratitude.