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Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Playing Detective

sleuthLately, I’ve been asking myself some pointed questions about my expectations and motivations with health history forms. I’m not saying that I don’t think it’s essential to know certain facts; I’m just turning the tables here and donning my detective hat to ask myself some important questions, as I do my clients.

I think of the health history form serving three primary purposes:

  • Identify contraindications that might preclude foot or hand reflexology as a safe treatment option, and health conditions that might dictate a particular focus and/or warrant consideration in my choice of technique.
  • A conversation opener. My client’s responses give us a place from which to begin a dialogue; to establish rapport; for me to find out how she specifically is affected – on all levels – by the situations she faces in her life.
  • Establish what my client’s goals are for her time with me.

With the above in mind, some of the questions that come to my mind are:

  • Am I asking too much on the intake form? Are my questions too personal? I understand how tedious and irritating it might become for someone on an exhaustive search for solutions to have to answer the same ubiquitous questions with every practitioner they visit. When all intake forms start to read the same, it might start to sound inauthentic; kind of like the medical operations that keep telling us that they treat “body, mind and spirit”. Might I discover more about my client’s relationship with herself and her challenges through an honest conversation rather than a long checklist?
  • In our attempt to gain credibility in the broad field of healthcare, are we “medicalising” complementary therapies? I’m offering reflexology – a modality with very few contraindications – not a medical procedure. Should a complementary therapist’s practices be identical to that of a medic? Are complementary consultations the same as medical consultations?

How would you answer the above questions?

And these:

  • How much time do you spend on an initial consultation? How many pages is your intake form?
  • Do you think you get all the information you need on your health history form? (How many times has a client aroused herself from “la-la land” to inform you that that tender spot on her foot is from a recently recovered broken bone she forgot to tell you about?)
  • What are “deal breakers” for you? Situations where you will not provide a hands-on session?
  • How do you respond to a client who refuses to complete a health intake form? Do you attempt to discover why? Gather the basic information you need verbally so as to do no harm and hopefully meet your client’s goals? What do you say to get across your need for certain pieces of information? Do you refuse to give service? If so, why?

Whew! So that’s what’s been racing around in my head the last few days. Please share your thoughts and practices regarding the above; your input helps us all.



Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Fibromyalgia Mystery Finally Solved!

It’s not all in your head! It’s in your hands!

Before you get too excited, that is just what the latest study on what causes fibromyalgia states. Ever notice that there’s a new study released almost every few months? And that none of them point in the same direction?

A 2011 report in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology named fibromyalgia as the second-leading cause of visits to the rheumatologist. With no agreed-upon cause and certainly no cure, over six million people in North America are diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome!

And yet, fibromyalgia can take years to diagnose. It’s tough to label, because the symptoms – sleep problems, headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, trouble concentrating – can all be attributed to other maladies as well.

If you work with clients living with fibromyalgia, you may wish to read Jackie Anderson’s case study offering reflexology to a 68-year-old woman suffering from fibromyalgia for several years. Jackie is a registered nurse, Harvard graduate in mind/body healing and certified reflexologist from the Academy of Ancient Reflexology’s 2008 summer Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification program.

In this study, Jackie’s study begins with the subject’s increase in symptoms from the first few sessions, leading ultimately to some surprising results. You can read the full study here.

Or you could just jump to the chase and offer hand reflexology, if what the latest study says is true!!


Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

A Reflexologist’s Four Agreements

Number Block fourOne of my all-time favorite books is the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. The book has remained on the New York Times bestseller list every year since its release in 1997, so obviously it’s also a lot of other people’s fave.

As happens every so often, I sat down to read this little gem again and for the first time started to see many applications within the world of reflexology.

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word

“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

This Agreement reminds me of the power my words have to either harm or support.

If I criticize and berate myself for imagined shortcomings, I will eventually erode my confidence – which will affect my ability to be truly present with my clients – which will make the planning and delivery of effective treatment plans impossible. Eventually, even the thought of seeing a client will further undermine my confidence. At some point, I won’t even want to show up.

Being impeccable with clients: I am reminded to always speak the truth – about my training, my abilities, the power of reflexology as well as its limitations. Not to exaggerate, diagnose, prescribe or hold back from offering hope. I am reminded here that my true gift is my presence, my compassion and my willingness to witness and support. This Agreement also reminds me of my responsibility to uphold confidentiality.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally

“Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”

Many years ago I learned two very important principles: Never work harder than your clients and never offer something to someone who hasn’t told you s/he needs and/or wants it.

I’ve gotten pretty good remembering that when someone comes to me for reflexology, that’s what he or she has come for. Some people do ask me for more though, and I am happy to oblige, if I am qualified to do so and it’s within my scope of practice.

Whether or not they follow up with my recommendations and suggestions has nothing to do with me though. If they do or don’t do their “homework” is their choice. Their compliance or non-compliance, as Don Ruiz so brilliantly states, has to do with their relationship with themselves, not me.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”

This Agreement reminds me that it is my responsibility to find and use my voice; to set healthy professional boundaries; to speak my truth. It takes courage and awareness to uncover core values and to speak honestly of how I am affected by clients who are chronically late; who share jokes and/or comments that I find discriminatory; and who ask too many personal questions.

The other piece of this guideline speaks to interviewing skills; the importance of donning my little detective hat and practicing respectful, open-ended inquiry so as to get the information that I need to offer my services in a safe and effective manner. Health intake forms serve as conversation openers not suppliers of information.

And most importantly, to not assume that I know what a client means by a certain word or phrase, just because I know what it means to me.

4. Always Do Your Best

“Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

Before I can be available to take care of someone else, I must first take care of myself. I must prepare myself so that I can be present, patient, alert and useful to my clients. I can do my best by living a life of moderation; a life that is based on daily movement, adequate rest, healthy eating and nourishing relationships. Modeling a life built on healthy choices is also the most powerful way to teach.


Can you relate the Four Agreements to your practice? Do tell!



Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Living With, or Healing From Headaches

220px-MigraineWith media reports as prevalent as they are for headaches, you’d think there must be an increase in people affected. That turns out not to be true. In the United States at least, the statistics have held pretty steady over the last decade: approximately 12 million people visit doctors annually seeking relief from headaches. At least one-quarter of that group suffers from severe chronic tension or migraine headaches. So, why the increase in reported headaches then?

A little investigating uncovers two reasons:

  1. Advanced diagnostic machines;
  2. A more-informed and assertive patient population.

Those two factors have led to a doubling of tests being performed in the last 10 years.

Advanced testing procedures are not without drawbacks though. They are expensive, can lead to additional and often unnecessary procedures (like biopsies) and increase exposure to radiation.

And it turns out maybe not the best course of action.

New research has shown that lifestyle changes often have the biggest impact on reducing the incidence of headaches, and particularly those associated with sleep. According to one study, for example, 50% of people reporting chronic migraine headaches also disclosed poor sleep habits. A change in sleep habits made a significant difference for these subjects.

Scientists now believe that it makes sense to approach headaches first from a self-care strategy, leaving a medical consultation as a follow-up in the event that lifestyle changes aren’t the solution. I agree with that line of thinking; most – not all, but most – headaches result from habitual practices that sabotage our wellbeing. And that is why I created the Say Goodbye to Headaches class.

The challenge to living headache-free is two-fold: first to identify the behaviors that contribute to head pain, and secondly, find agreeable substitutes for those behaviors.

In the Say Goodbye to Headaches class, attendees learn how to help clients to identify their headache triggers from a list of nearly 70. They learn how to coach clients in creating lifestyle changes they are willing to make and how to offer a hands-on reflexology session designed specifically for that client.

I hope you will join us. With 12 million sufferers in the country, I figure you must know a few you can help!

Say Goodbye to Headaches - a one-day class

Saturday, June 20 in Gainesville, Florida

Friday, August 28 in Lac Brome, Quebec

Saturday, September 12 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.



Migraines and Insomnia

Lifestyle Change for Headaches


Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Easy Nail Care Tips

Simple nail-care practices will keep your hands looking good, prevent common problems like infections and make it easier for you to evaluate your nails for any indication of changes in health. Here’s a simple list…. . . . → Read More: Easy Nail Care Tips

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