There are many types of massage and bodywork that massage therapists may use, varying from the densely structural (e.g.: deep tissue massage) all the way to the most subtle energetic work ( involving the energy fields around your body).
After graduating from massage school and passing the licensing exam, many massage therapists continue their education and pursue specialized training in multiple modalities of bodywork. Some therapists closely follow protocols associated with these particular modalities, while other therapists take a more eclectic approach in which they adapt various parts of various protocols to tailor individual sessions for individual clients.
There is no one right way.
Because every person receiving bodywork is different, each person will have his or her own preference for what works best/feels best for him or her. You may want to sample different modalities and practitioners to see what is best for you.
Massage is a collaborative process.
Please keep in mind that massage is a collaborative process. I welcome and encourage you to let me know if you are in pain, if the pressure of my touch is too light or too heavy, if you want more work in a specific area, or anything else that will make the session a more healing experience for you.
Unfortunately, some people think massage needs to hurt in order to be beneficial. Pain not only makes the session unpleasant, but it may be an indication of harm occurring. Our bodies and minds are more receptive to learning and change when our experiences are positive and pleasant.