It is more than 12 years since I took my American Reflexology Board Certification exams. In order to apply for the exams I was required to do a minimum of 200 hours of study (subsequently increased to 300 hours) with an approved school, had to document 90 individual session with clients, pass written tests in anatomy and physiology plus reflexology history, theory and practice. In addition, we were tested on good buiness practice, ethics and client safety. I also had to give a reflexology session to a board examiner. To maintain my certification since then I have had to take continuing education credit classes every year amounting to hundreds of extra hours of training. The costs run to many thousands of dollars. Despite this, reflexologists in my state have been unsuccessful in getting exemption from the massage therapy licensing laws, since the massage board insist that we must be LMTs in order to practice our profession. The licensing board has no requirement for massage therapists to do a full reflexology training, nor to become certified in reflexology in order to practice it. I do not wish to practice massage, nor is it useful to my work as a reflexologist!
Unfortunately, we are small in number and have been unable to overcome the lobbying power of the influential massage board, but there are now many excellent practitioners (largely women) who have been intimidated into stopping work or who have begun to operate underground, which also means less regulation and less tax revenue for the state. Fortunately, I live close to a state where the law is interpreted differently allowing me to practice there without a problem, but I would like the same rights in my home state. Battling the issue for 12 years in the political arena is disheartening – we have no agenda, we just want to work. I have yet to meet a massage therapist who has any issue with this, as they recognize that reflexology requires different skills from massage. In fact I have a good relationship with several massage therapists as we are able to refer clients to each other. It is also discouraging for trained reflexologists who are fearful of prosecution, to see so many dubious “foot spas” springing up, apparently with impunity, where the workers are not even properly trained. How do they get away with it?
So where’s the good news? And what does hair braiding come in? A recent case in New Jersey has parallels to our situation. Hair braiders were subject to the NJ hairdressing license laws, requiring them to attend school at a cost of around $17,00 – where they would not even learn hair braiding. They argued that what they do is very different, and does not require cutting or the use of chemicals. Their bills recently passed in the legislature but were given a temporary veto by the Governor in order to build in approximately 40 hours of health and safety training as consumer protection. That is being seen as a good measure by all, and is significantly fewer hours than those already undertaken by reflexologists. It is anticipated that the bill will be signed into law once the short training is added. Common sense prevails all round, let’s hope this case will provide n optimistic boost to reflexologists as we continue to fight for the right to work around the country.