Reflexologist

The Job and What's Involved

Reflexology is a complementary therapy which identifies areas in the feet and hands, known as reflexes, which correspond to different parts of the body. Reflexologists stimulate the reflexes using specific pressures to promote the body's healing processes.

During a reflexology session a reflexologist would:

  • Greet the client.
  • Take a full medical history on the client's first visit.
  • Discuss and record any health problems, symptoms or diagnosis from a conventional medical practitioner.
  • Use this information to decide whether reflexology is suitable for the client.
  • Explain the treatment to the client.
  • Examine their bare feet or hands.
  • Apply pressure with the thumb and fingers to treat both feet or hands.
  • If appropriate, show the client simple reflexology techniques to use at home between reflexology sessions.
  • Write up full details of the treatment on the client's record card.
  • On the client's next visit, discuss and record any changes that they may have noticed in their symptoms.
  • Refer the client to their GP, if necessary.

Treatments usually last about 45 minutes to one hour, although first visits usually take longer because of the detailed consultation with the client. The number of treatment sessions may vary according to individual requirements.

Self-employed reflexologists also spend time promoting their businesses and dealing with administration and accounts.

Working hours can vary. Many reflexologists offer sessions during the evenings or at weekends. Some work part time.

Reflexologists work in a range of settings. Some have treatment rooms in their own homes or in complementary therapy centres. They may also work in fitness centres, beauty therapy centres, hair salons, health spas, luxury hotels and on cruise ships. They may also work in hospices, care homes and GP practices. Some visit clients in their own homes or give treatments to employees in their workplaces.

Depending on the setting, the reflexologist may create a relaxing atmosphere for the client by playing gentle music. They spend much of their day sitting down, talking to clients, or giving treatments. A driving licence and car will be useful for visiting clients.

Earnings start from around £12,500 a year. Most reflexologists are self-employed so their income depends on the number of clients they see and the amount they charge for each session. This is usually between £20 and £40. Outgoings like rent, heating, lighting, professional memberships and insurance must be taken into account.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are between 15,000 and 20,000 reflexologists practising in the UK. As more people become interested in complementary therapies, demand is likely to increase. Most reflexologists are self-employed, but some are employed in private clinics and treatment centres and by the National Health Service (NHS).

Vacancies are advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices and local and national newspapers, as well in health and fitness magazines.

Education and Training

Many short courses in reflexology are offered by local authorities and other lifelong learning organisations. These provide a basic introduction to the therapy and may help an individual to decide whether they are interested in further study, but they are not designed for people wishing to practise as professional reflexologists.

Professional reflexology courses are offered by a wide range of organisations. There are usually no formal entry requirements other than an understanding of written and spoken English, but students must be able to produce written assignments and cope with the study of human anatomy and physiology. Course providers often stipulate a minimum age of 18 or 19 for entry.

Many professional reflexology courses are available part time, but they also demand a great deal of home study. They usually last at least a year.

Subjects studied include:

  • Reflexology techniques.
  • An understanding of when it is appropriate to use reflexology.
  • Reactions to treatment.
  • Human anatomy and physiology.
  • General disorders and diseases.
  • How to set up a reflexology business.
  • Rules, regulations and professional ethics.

Courses mix theory with a substantial amount of practical experience. They are usually assessed by written case studies, projects, examinations and practical assessments of reflexology treatments.

Several universities and colleges offer full-time higher education courses in, or containing modules on, reflexology.

In general, applicants to a degree course usually need a minimum of two A levels/three H grades and five GCSE's/S grades, or the equivalent. There are no set entry requirements for Foundation degrees. Candidates are advised to contact individual institutions.

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Reflexologists who have successfully completed a professional training course are considered fully trained and ready to practise, although those entering employment may work under supervision for a set period. Reflexologists working for the NHS and private clinics and treatment centres could receive induction training to introduce them to their employer's organisation and culture.

Professional reflexology bodies offer a range of workshops, conferences, seminars and continuing professional development opportunities to their members.

Self-employed reflexologists may find it useful to take additional training in business-related subjects such as accounts or marketing. For more information contact Learn Direct on 0800 100 900 or visit www.learndirect.co.uk.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A reflexologist should:

  • Be a good communicator, able to explain treatments to clients and ask appropriate questions.
  • Have good listening skills.
  • Be comfortable touching people's feet.
  • Be able to make clients feel relaxed and comfortable.
  • Have empathy with clients.
  • Be able to respect professional boundaries.
  • Know when to advise clients to seek conventional medical advice.
  • Co-operate fully with healthcare professionals.
  • Keep accurate written records.
  • Respect confidentiality.
  • Have business skills if they are self-employed.

Your Long Term Prospects

There is no formal career path for reflexologists and there are few opportunities for promotion. A self-employed reflexologist often starts off with just one or two clients and must be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort promoting and building their business if it is to succeed. Some give talks and demonstrations to raise awareness of reflexology and make contact with potential new clients.

Training in other complementary therapies allows reflexologists to offer a wider service to clients.

Reflexologists with several years' professional experience may take a recognised teaching qualification and teach reflexology.

There may be opportunities to work overseas, but it is important to check that UK qualifications are recognised in the country where the reflexologist intends to work.

Get Further Information

Association of Reflexologists,
5 Fore Street, Taunton,
Somerset TA1 1HX
Tel: 0870 567 3320
Website: www.aor.org.uk

The British Reflexology Association,
Administration Office, Monks Orchard,
Whitbourne, Worcester WR6 5RB
Tel: 01886 821207
Website: www.britreflex.co.uk

The International Institute of Reflexology,
Head Office, 146 Upperthorpe, Walkley,
Sheffield S6 3NF
Tel: 01142 812100
Website: www.reflexology-uk.net

The Reflexology Forum, Dalton House,
60 Windsor Avenue, London SW19 2RR
Tel: 0800 037 0130
Website: www.reflexologyforum.org

The Scottish Institute of Reflexology
Website: www.scottishreflexology.org

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