This is the third in a series of posts about my practice. The first two were about how I can help you feel more comfortable in your body, and what to expect from a session with me. I’m going to finish by sharing some of the diverse experiences I’ve had around gender, sexual orientation, race, and disability. I think it helps, when choosing to work with a therapist, to know a bit about background and why they see the world the way they do.
I’m a gay man in my early 50’s. I grew up in New England, lived in Boston for years, and came to San Francisco in 2010. Conventional gender roles weren’t really a thing in my family. Growing up, my mom wore jeans and a man’s shirt, and loved gardening, working with tools, mowing the lawn, repairing things around the house, and sports. My father was a fastidious dresser who preferred fine foods, fine clothes, ballet, opera, and music. As children, my sister liked sports and cowboys, while I enjoyed cooking, theater, and music. As a result, I’m pretty comfortable around all sorts of different gender expressions.
My family worked in mental health. My father was a psychiatrist, my mother, an occupational therapist, and my sister, a social worker. I spent a lot of time working in the arts, putting myself through art school while working as an event planner for the largest conference for people with disabilities on the East Coast. During that time, I worked closely with a team of people with all sorts of disabilities, learning first-hand about the kinds of oppression they were fighting. Later, I had a career in gay men’s health, working not only with gay men but with transgender people as well. I’ve worked with people in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and coached community members in helping their peers navigate the health care system in inner cities and rural areas. I’ve worked closely with Black, Latinx, and Asian communities.
My first experience with massage was through the Body Electric School. While I found this work fulfilling, I wanted to expand further, to learn anatomy, physiology, and a wider array of techniques and modalities. My goal as a massage therapist is to help people lead richer lives while feeling more at home in their own bodies, addressing the whole person, body and mind, in order to help them achieve the balance they desire.
For more information, check out my bio page, which includes a list of the various modalities and techniques I’ve received training in.
My colleague Kate and I will be offering massages this Saturday afternoon, July 22, as part of this fabulous free celebration at AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. Come check it out! Here's the description from Facebook:
Burning Man camp Comfort & Joy is teaming up with the National AIDS Memorial Grove to bring you the second annual ‘Playa in the Grove’, a fabulous afternoon of art, music, connection and other festivities! For this celebration of our queer community, both in the bay and at Burning Man, we feel the sacred Memorial Grove is the perfect space to revel and relax in as we honor our past and envision our future. This special FREE gathering will feature:
Last week’s blog post was about how I help people sink more deeply into their bodies, using my training and my background with LGBT folks, people with disabilities, and others. This week, I’m writing about what you can expect when you come to see me. Here are some things that might be informative if you are considering working with me.
Getting To Know You.
Your first session with me is really a chance for us to get to know one another – for me to begin to learn what kinds of touch are most effective for you, and for you to learn what my massage is like. I’ll check in with you a lot during the massage. Hopefully it’s a good fit. It’s hard for a single massage session to meet all of your goals immediately. A series of sessions, after crafting a plan together on how to proceed, allows for deeper, more effective, longer-lasting results. Working together over time also allows us to build a relationship, in much the same way you might with your personal trainer or your health care provider.
Why Do You Want a Massage?
When you book an appointment, it’s helpful for me to know why you are booking. Do you just want a relaxing massage? Is there some specific body part that has been bothering you? How can I help? I can facilitate relaxation, ease pain, stiffness, and tension in certain areas, and help with flexibility. But I’m NOT a medical professional: I can’t cure you, make a diagnosis, provide treatment, or prescribe medicine.
What Length of Massage is Best?
I offer 60 and 90-minute sessions. A 60-minute massage is enough time to make brief, relaxing contact with every part of the body, or to do deeper work on only one or two specific areas. It can be challenging to give a relaxing, full-body massage AND focus on specific areas of tension in only an hour. 90-minute sessions are better, because they allow for a slower, more relaxing pace and greater attention to specific areas.
What’s My Studio Like?
I practice in a cozy studio that has low light, candles, music, a heater, a sturdy, comfortable table with flannel sheets, and a table warmer. We can use any combination of these amenities that works for you. The studio is in a queer health and wellness collective on the third floor of a building at 20th and Mission here in SF.
What Should You Wear?
Loose clothing is best, so that it’s easy to remove, and more comfortable to put on after the massage. Tight binding clothing may undo some of the massage benefits. Because I use oil or lotion, generally I massage my clients naked. If you prefer to leave your underwear on, that’s fine. During the massage, you’ll be discreetly covered with a sheet; I carefully expose only certain areas while I am working on them, covering them again when finished. This helps create a sense of safety and discretion, and also helps keep you warm and cozy. Should you prefer not to undress at all, I can certainly massage through clothing but obviously without oil or lotion. Usually nude or partially nude massage is more effective because it allows better access to skin, muscles and tissues.
Arrive Clean, Ready, and On Time.
Your session will be much more effective if you have plenty of time to get to my studio and you aren’t in a frantic rush to get here. Please shower the day of the massage so your body is clean. Drink plenty of water. Gentle stretching before a massage can be useful. If you know you’re going to be late, please let me know that you are on your way. If you miss more than half the session I may suggest we postpone. If you are late to a session, full rates still apply, so try to leave yourself plenty of time.
Starting Your Session.
When you arrive, I’ll greet you myself and bring you from the entryway to my studio. You’re welcome to use the restroom and have a drink of water. Then I’ll briefly check in with you – are there any issues that I need to be aware of? How can I help? Anything different from what you told me when you booked? This takes about 5-7 minutes at most, and is part of the overall 60 or 90 minute session. I’ll ask about your general health and medical history (any injuries, skin conditions, allergies, etc), and I may also ask questions about your regular activities (exercise, work-related, and so forth), because sometimes people develop tension in doing those activities. I may ask you to demonstrate some simple movements for me. All of these things help me to design the most effective session for you. Before I start the massage, I’ll go over my plan for the session to be sure it’s agreeable to you. Like all communication with clients, I maintain confidentiality regarding anything you share.
Ending The Session.
After giving you time to dress, I’ll knock, re-enter, and check in to see how you’re feeling. I may suggest some stretches, or share any particular things I noticed about your body during the session. We’ll schedule our next session, in order to deepen the work we’ve started, and to work on other areas that we may not have had time for in the initial session. Subsequent sessions allow us to build on the initial session while adding any new conditions to the overall plan. Lastly, if you haven’t purchased a package, payment is due at the end of each session – cash (or Venmo) or credit. You’re welcome to use the restroom again, and then I will bring you back to the entryway to say farewell for now.
After Your Massage.
The positive effects of a massage can last for several days afterward. The best thing you can do right after a massage is nothing – chill out! Drink plenty of water – it helps your body clear any toxins that may have been released during the massage. A walk in the park or in nature, a nice bath or time in a hot tub, gentle stretching, yoga, a great healthy meal, and an early bedtime will all help deepen your massage experience. Contemplation, meditation, and journaling may also be useful, especially if any thoughts or experiences come up during the massage session or afterward. Lastly, note (observe but don’t judge) any changes in movement patterns, pain, sleep patterns or other behaviors. These are likely signs that your body is remembering how it was meant to be.
A few other things:
Tips are appreciated but never expected or included.
Word of Mouth.
If you like what I do, tell your friends, family, and co-workers! Most of my business comes through word of mouth. Online reviews via Facebook or on this website are also helpful!
Trades and Low Income.
My prices reflect current market rates in San Francisco. I may be open to trade (for a service or product of equivalent value). I always hold a certain number of low-income sliding scale spots. Low-income appointments must be discussed ahead of time, and generally won’t be less than 50% of the value of the massage session.
Because I have my own studio, I generally prefer to see clients there, but if that is not possible, I can visit you at your home, hotel or workplace for a $20-$50 surcharge depending on distance.
For further questions, my POLICIES page may be helpful. You can always ask a question via my CONTACT page or by phone or email.
Many people feel a lack of connection to their body, or dislike what they see when they look in the mirror. In my practice, I help people feel more connected to their bodies, and more comfortable living in them. Here’s how I do that.
How often do you receive caring, platonic touch?
Platonic, physical connection between two people – light affection expressed through simple touch – is becoming scarcer. We accomplish much of what we need to survive as humans with a few clicks on our electronic devices: send emails or texts, make phone calls, order food, buy things, find a place to live. Even when there is human connection involved (a movie with a friend, apartment-hunting with your partner, dinner with your family), often there’s not a lot of touching that happens as a part of these actions. But touch is pretty powerful.
Most people spend very little time touching one another. There’s really no social context for any extended session of touch other than sex – often fast and short, lacking any long, relaxing, pressure-free exchange of touch. It seems that platonic touch is almost taboo in American culture today, especially between men. Scientists have written on the importance of touch, and say we live in a touch-starved society.
One of the goals of my massage practice is to provide a safe space for people to receive touch, without any agenda beyond their own well-being. When I ask clients if they receive regular touch from friends or partners, the answer is usually, “Not really”, and sometimes “Yes, but only when we’re making love.” Many of my clients (like most of us) are unaccustomed to receiving regular platonic touch. They spend the first part of their massage remembering to relax, as I coach them on breathing deeply and sinking back into their body. Often people tell me things like, “I didn’t realize how tense I was until you started massaging me,” or simply “You helped me feel good about my body again.” The smiles I see after working with clients are the same centered, grounded, satisfied smiles of people who have had a good meal or restful sleep.
Regular touch is literally vital for us. So why not go get some?!
Come back next week for the next installment in this series, about the importance of regular touch in improving body image. Many people feel a lack of connection to their body, or dislike what they see when they look in the mirror. I use touch to help people feel more connected to their bodies, and more comfortable living in them, and I’ll share more about how I do that.