(Reprinted by permission from the American Reflexology Certification Board, Reflexology Digest, June 2016)
Mistake #1 – Assuming All “Reflexology” Is the Same
Not everything that claims to be reflexology today actually IS reflexology. Currently only 4 states (New Hampshire, North Dakota, Tennessee and Washington) have their own law for reflexologists, so in many areas just about anyone can say or advertise they offer reflexology, whether they are truly a trained and certified reflexologist or not! Reflexology is not foot massage and it’s not acupressure. The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) defines reflexology as a separate therapy. True reflexology is performed only on the reflex maps of the body located on the feet, hands and outer ears. Real reflexology involves the application of alternating pressure techniques that are unique to reflexology and different than massage or acupressure techniques.
Mistake #2 – Assuming All Reflexologists Are the Same
Just as reflexology is a unique therapy, a Certified Reflexologist has completed unique reflexology only training (typically 200-300 hours in the USA). According to the standards of most state and national reflexology associations and the national certification board, this training must include classroom instruction which focuses on techniques for the hands and feet as well as instruction in anatomy, physiology, professional standards, ethics, application of protocols to address particular systems of the body or particular pathologies, as well completing a minimum number of practical sessions and learning to keep session notes. You’ll often hear people say they provide reflexology, but ask them how many training hours they’ve had specific to reflexology and whether they have any certification only in reflexology. Also be aware that there’s a recent trend offering on-line training in reflexology; however, current professional standards require the majority of initial reflexology training to be taken personally in a classroom environment. Learning to locate reflexes on different individuals, modulation of pressure, etc., cannot be taught on-line.
Mistake #3 – Not Checking Credentials
An individual who has completed certification solely in reflexology in the United States should be able to show you the following documentation:
- Certification from their reflexology-specific school. (Check the school credentials to determine if certification was on-line or included hands-on training and how many hours of reflexology only instruction were involved.)
- Optimally, national certification by the American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB). You can verify this at www.ARCB.net.
- A currently valid professional liability insurance certificate.
- A local business license.
- If residing in one of the states mentioned above with reflexology laws, then a current state license.
Ask to see certification, licensing and insurance documents up front and don’t be afraid to verify! Ask for reflexology-specific certification or you’ll likely just be receiving a foot massage!
Mistake #4 – Not Checking Continuing Education, Experience, and Professional Associations
If the reflexologist received certification some years ago, has he or she taken any continuing education courses since that time? Look for someone who continues their education after initial certification. The ARCB requires 12 CE hours every two years. This insures the practitioner stays up to speed on the latest techniques and information. ARCB lists certificants in good standing on its web site (www.arcb.net) and members of state and the national organization are usually listed on their websites as well.
Check whether the reflexologist is a member of their state association or the Reflexology Association of America (InfoRAA@reflexology-usa.org). The RAA website also lists state associations and their contact information. Members of reflexology organizations have access to association-sponsored continuing education. Association members are concerned with the professionalism, ethics and advancement of reflexology as well as protecting public health and safety. Certification by the ARCB and membership in a state or national association gives you a path for complaint if you find unethical or unsafe conduct on the part of the reflexologist you’ve chosen.
Be sure to ask how many sessions the reflexologist you’re considering performs in a typical year or how many session hours they have overall in their reflexology career. Someone who does more than 1,000 sessions per year will have more experience in a few years than another person who only does 50 sessions per year. It’s not the years of experience; it’s the number of client sessions in the experience that you should check. This will insure you’re working with a truly experienced reflexologist.
Mistake #5 – Being More Concerned About Their Wallet than Their Health
When seeing a certified reflexologist who can evidence the qualifications above, expect to pay between $50 and $120 per session, depending on the area of the country in which you live and the session length. Don’t foolishly try to compare this with the price of a similar length session at a foot spa. Remember, the worker at the foot spa probably can’t demonstrate equivalent education and certification, so the service you’re paying for is usually not reflexology. In addition, an untrained person with no certification can be dangerous to your health. However, you’ll find certified reflexologists are normally welcomed in hospital environments and approved by many physicians.
Bottom line: Don’t expect to receive reflexology from a certified professional for the price of a foot rub at the mall.