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Sondra Striker, manager of the RAF Lakenheath Thrift Shop, gets a massage from Essentially You owner Claire Haslam-Wise at Striker's home in Brandon.

Sondra Striker, manager of the RAF Lakenheath Thrift Shop, gets a massage from Essentially You owner Claire Haslam-Wise at Striker's home in Brandon. (Heather Klinglesmith / S&S)

The weekly stress is weighing on your shoulders, or you want a facial before the big holiday party.

But there are hundreds of therapists listed in the local Yellow Pages and in base publication advertisements. How do you choose the most qualified therapist for the treatment you need?

With a growing number of mobile therapists bringing services straight to your doorstep in the U.K., consumers need to look for qualifications, insurance and recommendations.

“When I got into this business, I did not realize that there were so many people out there calling themselves therapists that did not have training, certificates and insurance. I was appalled and maybe a little naive,” said Claire Haslam-Wise, owner of Essentially You, a mobile “complimentary” therapist, which is the official term for such services in England.

Haslam-Wise suggests that when searching for a complimentary therapist, consumers should always feel comfortable asking if the provider has trained from a school that is accredited or approved by a credible awarding agency.

“If you ask a therapist to see their credentials, and they seem to hesitate, then be leery and look for another therapist,” Haslam-Wise said.

In addition, most therapists with proper schooling and accreditation will post those qualifications on their business cards and brochures.

Coral Hadley, director of The Beauty Academy, which has seven training centers throughout the U.K., suggests looking for a therapist who has qualifications from the City and Guilds, an international accrediting agency based in London.

Other awarding bodies to look for include the Confederation of Beauty Therapists and Cosmeticians, Vocational Training Charitable Trust and the International Therapy Examination.

Hadley said the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology and The Guild of Professional Beauty Therapists are other associations. Although not awarding bodies, they are leading authorities within the industry. In other words, once a therapist has had the proper schooling and qualifications, he or she can join these groups, which provide the therapist up-to-date information on their trade. They also will accept only members who have had no serious complaints lodged against them and are in good standing in their trade.

To perform any type of treatment, a therapist should have professional indemnity insurance and third-party liability insurance. Some therapists will have their own and others will choose to be covered by the salon they work for.

“Having the qualifications does not necessarily mean that you are getting a top-quality therapist,” Hadley cautioned. She clarified that sometimes you can get somebody who is naturally good with people, or sometimes you can get someone who has a lot of training but is not very warm.

Another way to find a potential therapist is through the recommendations of others who have used a complimentary therapist’s service. Haslam-Wise estimated that 60 percent of her clientele was gained from customers’ recommendations to others.

“Recommendations are always the best form of advertising, word of mouth is great,” Hadley said.

Patricia Howard, owner of Head to Toes Body Therapies, also a mobile therapist, said consumers also should look for a therapist who is well-groomed and has a caring, willing and helpful attitude. It is important for potential clients to be comfortable with a therapist who is coming into their home.

Sondra Striker, RAF Lakenheath Thrift Shop manager, has been receiving massage therapy for eight years and recommends looking for a therapist who is professional and makes you feel comfortable and at ease. “I look for someone who is knowledgeable about my body as far as what limitations I have,” Striker said.

To understand those limitations, a therapist should complete a consultation with the client before performing any treatments. Howard explains that the consultation will go through the client’s medical history and explain what to expect during and after therapy.

“The consultation could be the deciding factor of whether the treatment can go ahead or not,” Howard said.

“For me, personally, if someone did not do a consultation first, I would not have the therapy,” she said.

Once a therapy has begun, it is important for the client and therapist to communicate. The therapist should verify with the client that they are comfortable and that the client is enjoying the treatment. Haslam-Wise said every client is different and the only way to improve a treatment for the client is if the client tells them what they need or want.

“Don’t be afraid to say that something is too hard, too soft or just not feeling right,” Haslam-Wise said.

How to treat yourselfEach beauty and holistic therapy has its own benefits. So, what are the favorites among the masses?

The top five therapies in the U.K., according to local therapists, include reflexology, body massage, Indian Head Massage, manual facial, and manicures and pedicures.

Patricia Howard, owner of Head to Toes Body Therapies, explained the process of these popular treatments.

Reflexology

A holistic treatment that can be performed on the hands or feet and is used to rebalance the body’s systems. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain reflex areas to relieve stress, detoxify and clear energy channels. According to Howard, this process leaves the body to heal itself.

Average price seen in the area: 20-40 pounds, depending on time and oils.

Body massage

Uses either a therapist’s touch or hot stones to bring relief of many symptoms. Massage is often referred to as an alternative treatment for pain and stress without the use of chemicals. There is a variety of massages available — from back, arms and neck to full body.

Sondra Striker, RAF Lakenheath Thrift Shop manager, said that a one-hour full-body massage is her favorite treatment. “I like the one-on-one contact you get from a full-body massage, every muscle and tendon, everything in your body is just is so relaxed by the time you are done, you’re just like Jell-O.”

Average price: 20-55 pounds, depending on type and length of time.

Indian Head Massage

A variety of massage techniques are blended to improve circulation. Oil is used for the massage, which works on the upper back, neck, shoulder, scalp, face and ears.

Average price: 15-30 pounds, depending on length of time.

Manual facial

The products used are selected according to the client’s skin condition. The facial will involve cleansing, toning, moisturizing and a soothing massage. “Depending on the specific needs of the client’s skin, a face mask may also be used to further soothe, moisturize, and/or exfoliate dead skin cells,” Howard said.

Average price: 20-65 pounds, depending on type and products used.

Manicures and pedicures

Involve soaking the feet or hands in tepid water to which an antiseptic or lotion has been added. The next step, if needed, is old nail enamel removal, followed by clipping and filing of the nails and removal of any hard skin that has accumulated. A soothing foot and leg or hand and arm massage usually ends the experience.

Average price: 25-35 pounds each, depending on type.

— Heather Klinglesmith


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