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Reflexology Training Programs and Requirements

Reflexology is a holistic health practice that involves massaging pressure points on parts of the feet, ears and hands to relieve stress and increase circulation. This method of non-invasive alternative medicine is based on the connection between the feet, ears and hands and other parts of the body to reduce pain and fatigue. Vocational schools and community colleges typically offer training programs in reflexology.

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Reflexology Programs

When employers hire reflexologists, they seek high school graduates who are friendly, good listeners and comfortable touching a person's feet and hands. Candidates with first aid training and experience in massage treatments are preferred. Some reflexology training programs are divided into basic and advanced practice, depending on the applicants' skill and experience level.

Since the reflexology movements are physically demanding and repetitive, candidates should be mindful to take breaks and use stretching techniques.

Formal Education

Students entering a reflexology certificate program may be starting out in the field or already be practicing in another alternative medicine area, such as aromatherapy, massage therapy or Reiki. Certificate programs are typically six months long and include 200 hours of training.

Certificate of Completion

Students in a reflexology certificate program learn about job stress, business practices, foot anatomy, physiology and ethics. Instructors demonstrate stimulation techniques using the thumbs and fingers and review maps (zones) of the hands and feet. Through lectures, students also learn basic reflexology terminology, bodily system functions and the history of reflexology. In addition to classroom learning, students have supervised clinical sessions, where they may practice reflexology techniques on patients.

Job Experience

Entry-level reflexologists may gain experience by volunteering at hospitals or practicing on friends or family members while they are completing their certificate program. It's important to note that although reflexologists are sometimes called massage therapists, their job functions differ in terms of technique and intent. Massage relaxes muscles and tissues, while reflexology focuses on calming the nervous system through stimulation of pressure points on a hand, ear or foot.

Licenses and Certifications

Students should research licensing requirements for their state or county, because there isn't a national standard. In addition, some states don't distinguish reflexology from massage therapy. According to the American Reflexology Certification Board (www.arcb.net), only North Dakota and Tennessee have laws regulating reflexology practitioners.

The ARCB offers a voluntary reflexology certification, which requires a written and practical test, plus 110 hours of training. To maintain certification, students are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years.

Workshops and Seminars

Some holistic health organizations and training schools hold information sessions for students to learn more about the art of reflexology, as well as other forms of alternative treatment. These sessions may be 1-3 days long and discuss topics, such as the chakra system, meditation and holding the feet and hands properly. Some workshops allow students to purchase instructional DVDs for home use.

Professional Development

Since reflexology is so closely related to massage therapy, students may expand their training to include basic massage treatments. There is an abundance of massage therapy programs and many take as little as 12 months to complete. Training in massage therapy is likely to open doors for reflexology students seeking other positions in alternative medicine.

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