Reflexology works on the belief that the hands, feet, and ears are maps of the body, with certain areas corresponding to specific functions and systems. A reflexologist helps promote healing and reduce stress by applying precise amounts of pressure to these areas, known as reflex points, using only their hands.
The practice is becoming increasingly popular and is even gaining ground in medical circles. As a result, many people looking to get into healthcare are considering reflexology courses and other alternative therapy forms, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture. Reflexology is especially attractive because it requires no special tools.
Training in reflexology is overseen by the American Commission for Accreditation of Reflexology Education and Training (ACARET). Because of its focus on physical touch, the ACARET requires aspiring reflexologists to get hands-on training at an accredited program. While some online courses are available, these usually won’t give you a license to practice in your area and can only cover the basics. You can find a list of accredited programs by state from the ACARET website. Note that the ACARET doesn’t accredit schools, only relevant programs and courses in larger schools.
For specialized schools, a better resource would be the American Reflexology Certification Board (ACRB), which offers information on both introductory and advanced programs. This should be your main resource if your long-term goal is to practice. The ACRB requires diplomas or certificates obtained through at least 110 hours of education. About half of this time should be dedicated to anatomy and physiology, about a third to theory and history, and the rest to practicum and business ethics.
Reflexology courses can be very in-depth, involving detailed analyses of reflex points in the hands, feet, and ears and how they interact with other parts of the body. You can also learn how to control pressure points and make informed decisions about what procedure to use for specific conditions. Some programs offer reflexology along with other forms of alternative therapy, although it is possible (and often recommended) to specialize.
The type of training you get depends largely on the type of institution you go to. For example, many universities and colleges offer extension and adult education programs on alternative medicine. There are also specialized massage schools, which are increasingly incorporating reflexology into their course plans. Once you get your diploma, the job market is very promising, with lots of patients, especially the elderly, looking to get treatment beyond conventional medicine.