If you were to ask me what is the question I am most often asked regarding certification in reflexology, I would have to say that my response to that question is sometimes viewed as the biggest obstacle to working as a reflexologist. It needn’t be.
The issue has to do with the legalities surrounding the professional practice of reflexology in the United States. In this context, the word “professional” refers to anyone who accepts compensation for his or her work. “Compensation” is defined to include cash, barter, trade, tithe, love offering, donations; i.e. something with monetary value.
Many US states require professionals to hold a state-issued license before accepting any form of compensation for their services. Some jurisdictions exempt reflexology from any licensing laws; some license reflexology as a separate practice. Some allow an individual with a cosmetology license to offer reflexology as part of those services. Since states have different (or no) laws governing the professional practice of reflexology, it is always in your best interest to familiarize yourself with the requirements of your state if you are thinking of practicing reflexology. You don’t want someone from your state Attorney General’s office knocking on your door!
In Florida, where I live and offer the Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification, a license is required. One of the government’s primary mandates is to protect the public; therefore, the state tests anyone whose services involve touching the human body (healthcare practitioners, cosmetologists, morticians, etc.) to determine if the applicant’s knowledge and skill level is such to safely operate a business; i.e. to do no harm. The preferred license to practice reflexology in Florida is a massage therapy license.
Florida does allow someone with a cosmetology or nail tech license to offer reflexology. These practitioners are allowed to do that because the scope of their license includes massage of the hands and feet. It’s important to note that in these situations, reflexology can only be offered in conjunction with the nail tech services, not as a stand-alone service. For that, a massage therapy license is required.
The above information – my answer to this frequently asked question – can feel like an obstacle to some people who want to practice just reflexology. I can understand that, and I can add, from personal experience, that certifications in more than one area can work to one’s advantage. Employers love it when they see multiple skills on a resume. The more education you have, the more attractive you are to clients and to a business looking to hire.
I practiced reflexology in Toronto, Ontario without a provincial license. (Canada does not require licensing for reflexology.) When I moved to Florida, I was required to obtain a massage therapy license before I could hang my shingle. Attending the Florida School of Massage was one of the best decisions of my life; both in terms of the knowledge I acquired and the personal growth experience. Without a doubt, everything I learned in my massage and hydrotherapy training supported, and continues to support my reflexology practice.
Some people choose to complete massage training first and then take the Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification as advanced training. An equal number do it the other way around, choosing to ease into the field of bodywork by first completing reflexology training (less time commitment, money and complexity). Either way is fine.
Like the local woman who called last week (and the inspiration for this article): someone retired from an unrelated career, but with a lifelong interest in reflexology. Rather than see the requirement for licensure as an obstacle, she got excited. Like me, she has most times been a little less than satisfied with the massage aspect of pedicures, and immediately saw the niche she could create for herself as the nail tech that includes reflexology. Yes! Sign me up! I’ll be her first regular client!
The 2013 Therapeutic Hand & Foot Reflexology Professional Certification begins March 21st. Join us!
The Reflexology Association of America posts the most current list of laws for each state on its site.