What Is Reflexology: Answering The Question
As a reflexologist, I am asked, “What is reflexology?” more than any other question about reflexology.
I will attempt to answer in as many ways as I have been asked.
Reflexology is a specialized form of body work – similar to, yet very different from massage. It is based upon the theory that our bodies are reflected on our feet, hands and ears in the form of mini-maps that clearly reference all the organs and regions of our body. A reflexology foot chart and reflexology hand chart provide detailed graphic references for visually learning and understanding this basic premise of reflexology.
What is Reflexology In Practice?
Reflexology is the application of specialized finger and thumb pressure techniques that are strategically and sequentially applied to the many and varied reflexes and zones found on the feet, hands and ears in accordance with the mini-maps mentioned above. What is reflexology in this frame of reference can be answered clinically by describing the technique-driven aspects of the modality. Learning and applying these techniques are the foundation for reflexology training in most reflexology courses. Although, in some educational settings, these reflexology techniques are taught in addition to the use of specialized refelxology tools.
In practice, these techniques are provided according to the following: The client lays down – face up – on a padded table. Their bare feet are propped up on a large pillow and are positioned slightly over the edge of the table, which provides ready access for the reflexologist. This is the easiest and most efficient way to conduct a reflexology treatment for both client and reflexologist. A towel is placed under the client’s feet and the non-active foot – the one not receiving reflexology – is wrapped in the towel in order to keep it warm.
What Is Reflexology As Compared To Massage?
Reflexology focuses on the feet, hands and outer ears – exclusively. There are no other parts of the body that a reflexologist should, or is legally allowed, to touch. In some cases, a reflexologist may also possess a massage therapist’s license. In this case, he or she is legally allowed to access other areas of the client’s body. When a client asks,”What is reflexology?” it is incumbent upon the reflexologist to answer the question thoroughly and understandably.
During a massage, the physical body is unclothed. It is directly accessed and the body is physically manipulated, or massaged. Conversely, in a reflexology treatment, only the feet, hands and outer ears are accessed physically, yet the body – as a whole – is “communicated with” through the nervous system by referencing and accessing reflexes found on the feet, hands and ears.
In a reflexology treatment, the client remains clothed. Only shoes and socks are removed to bare the feet.
A quote from a client of mine is worth mentioning: “A reflexology treatment is like a massage from the inside out.” I will always remember that!
What Is Reflexology As Compared To Acupressure?
Interestingly, there are many similarities between reflexology and acupressure. They both employ finger and thumb pressure techniques. And, they both target specific areas of the body based on a mapped model.
The primary difference is that reflexology is based upon mini-maps, zones and reflexes that reference the body’s physical organs and regions, whereas acupressure employs Chinese Five-Element Theory, Meridian Mapping and acupressure points located over the entire body. Think acupuncture without needles. This is a viable answer to what is reflexology.
While they are starkly different in their implementation, the goal is the same: healing and good health. And, as my practice has evolved, I have incorporated the use of acupressure and the Meridians. This is an advanced reflexology technique and extremely important to understand if a reflexologist wants to take his or her practice to the next level. Although, it is not mandatory to implement in order to operate a successful reflexology practice.
What Is Reflexology As A Path To Healing?
Reflexology is subtle, yet powerful as it relates to making a positive change in one’s health and healing. It is unparalleled as a preventative health care measure and should most definitely be a part of everyone’s health and wellness plan.
And, while it has been instrumental in improving the health of individuals who have chronic health conditions, reflexology should never be a replacement for medicine or contemporary western healing methods when the individual is currently under a doctor’s care.
This being said, a reflexology session – or series of sessions – can be performed for a client who is under a doctor’s care. As long as the doctor is consulted and there is a full disclosure of process and the doctor gives their approval for reflexology to be performed.
I have consulted successfully with many doctors in order to make the case for complementing their patient’s healing process with reflexology. In one instance, the doctor became my client, as well!
An Important Note: Reflexology in pregnancy has a very specific protocol which must be followed precisely. There must be communication between the OBGYN and the reflexologist prior to any administering of reflexology and special accommodations must be made for seating or lying down for the client during a session.
At this point, you should be able to answer the question, “What is reflexology?” However, now there is another question, “When will you either receive or learn reflexology?” Or BOTH! Receiving reflexology is amazing. Learning the benefits of reflexology and how to provide reflexology is absolutely profound.
What Is Reflexology Certification?
Reflexology Certification is an optional process that provides those who have attended and completed a recognized and approved school of reflexology with the credential of Certified Reflexologist.
In essence, it is an additional phase of testing. However, depending on the types of reflexology a reflexologist has been taught, reflexology certification may not be available. This is an irony in the field of reflexology, which has yet to be resolved.
The original idea behind reflexology certification was to create an organized body that would oversee and finalize the educational process and credential aspiring reflexologists. In theory, it was designed to operate similar to the state Massage Boards. However, due to a number of factors, it has remained mostly optional for educated reflexologists.
As such, certification is not a requirement to practice reflexology in many states.
Two notable exceptions are North Dakota and Tennessee.
North Dakota requires reflexologists to be certified and licensed, which is a state law.
Tennessee requires reflexologists to register with the state’s Reflexology Registry – certification is not required.
While I’m sure there is a true sense of accomplishment for those who choose to become certified in reflexology, it is my opinion that there is no discernible difference in the quality of a reflexology treatment provided by a certified or non-certified reflexologist. This answers the ‘what is reflexology‘ question for those who are looking to make reflexology a business or approach the field as a career choice and pursue reflexology jobs.