Therapeutic Reflexology – A Step-by-Step Guide to Professional Competence is a really good book. In addition to 343 pages of content and 94 pages of useful Appendices, it comes with a DVD demonstrating reflexology techniques and self-care stretches, and offers an online companion study guide. There is even separate online access for instructors – a move that clearly demonstrates the author’s intent for her labor of love to serve as a text for teaching organizations.
Therapeutic Reflexology was written by Paula Stone, a nationally certified massage therapist and reflexologist who can boast over 30 years of experience as an educator and wellness advocate. The book has been available for awhile and is the culmination of Paula’s professional life; her gift to the world of wellness. Here’s how Paula describes the beliefs from which this book was born:
“Contemporary holistic reflexology views the body as a whole organism. Correct technique applied to the reflexes of the feet (or hands, ears, etc.) affect the entire body – helping it to achieve homeostasis and through homeostasis, better health. Often those who practice reflexology feel a tender point, refer to a chart, and conclude, “There is a problem with so and so.” There are several issues with this approach. First, this is diagnosing, which is legal only when the practitioner has a license permitting diagnosis. Second, this reflects the conventional view of the body as a collection of symptoms. All actions – all states – of the body, emotions, mind, and spirit – are interdependent on each another. There is no separation. This holistic view is the underlying principle of this book.”
I am a firm believer that one must learn hands-on applications, such as reflexology, in a live classroom setting, where observation and feedback are available from a highly qualified and experienced practitioner/instructor. It is essential that a teacher both see and feel a student’s work in order to guide a learner’s path to that of skilled practitioner. That said, Therapeutic Reflexology serves as a wonderful adjunct to a classroom setting.
The book (which I reviewed for the publisher before publication) is broken down into four parts, each of which is amply illustrated with graphics and photographs. Each part begins with stated learning objectives, and ends with a summary of the material presented and questions to test what the reader has learned.
- The Overview begins with the history, science and various forms of reflexology (foot, hand, ear, body, iridology). Then the author moves onto theories and allied practices such as massage, aromatherapy and manual lymphatic drainage.
- A Reflexology Practice delves into the core competencies of running a reflexology-based business. This chapter deals with more than just sound business practices, scope of practice, licensing issues, certification requirements, book-keeping, boundaries, ethics and insurance. It covers basics like designing a session, frequency of sessions, identifying goals, contraindications and considerations, client responses to reflexology and charting. These are all critical topics to know before opening your door as a reflexology business owner.
- Fundamentals. This is the section “newbies” will likely be most interested in (but please do not ignore the previous chapters). These pages focus on the core hands-on techniques, after covering the anatomy, physiology and biomechanics of the lower leg and foot, ergonomics and all-important self-care strategies.
- Reflexology in Practice shows the location of reflexes on the feet, takes a look at the anatomy and physiology of all the systems of the body, and suggests a protocol for addressing each within a reflexology session.
There are many features of this book that I like. One is the case studies sprinkled throughout Part 4; another, the “Think It Over” boxes, which ask questions on thought-provoking topics – often controversial – that provide opportunities to develop necessary critical thinking skills.
I am in awe of the love and thoroughness that went into compiling Therapeutic Reflexology. If you have a sincere desire to help others through reflexology and are self-motivated, then you could well learn how to build a successful reflexology practice by completing the activities outlined in this wonderful text after you have completed your initial training.