Reflexology for stress, emotional wellbeing and mental health – By Christine Charters-Young

reflexology mental health Suffolk

Christine Charters-Young is an extremely professional complementary therapist offering reflexology, reiki and indian head massage in Newmarket, Saffron Walden, Bury St Edmunds and Cambridgeshire. In this article she explains a little bit more about what reflexology is and how it can help emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Reflexology – What is it and how can it help emotional wellbeing and mental health – by Christine Charters Young of The Healing House

Reflexology – a brief history

The art of reflexology dates back to Ancient Egypt, India and China.  Working on the feet is an ancient practice, used in many cultures but it was not introduced to the West until Dr William Fitzgerald developed ‘Zone therapy’. He believed that reflex areas on the feet and hands were linked to other areas and organs of the body within the same zone.

In the 1930′s, Eunice Ingham further developed this zone theory into what is known as reflexology. Her opinion was that congestion or tension in any part of the foot is mirrored in the corresponding part of the body.

What is reflexology and how can it help emotional wellbeing?

Reflexology is now a popular complementary therapy often used alongside conventional care. Precise reflexology massage movements are non invasive and aim to treat the imbalances of each individual as well as alleviate and improve symptoms. It is a unique method, using the thumb and fingers, usually performed on specific points on the feet, ankles and lower legs, but in some cases also on the hands, face and ears.

Reflexology is a therapy which can be received by anyone at any age, from newborn babies to those receiving end of life care, and everyone in between. However, there may occasionally be times when it is not suitable to provide a treatment.

The theory is that reflexology helps the body to restore its balance naturally, encouraging relaxation and a greater sense of wellbeing.

Reflexologists work holistically with their clients and aim to work alongside GPs and counsellors to promote better health. Numerous disorders may benefit from depending on the specialism and expertise of your reflexologist. Examples include pain, headaches, sinus problems, hormonal imbalances, back problems, stress and tension.

What impact could reflexology have on my life?

After one or two treatments your body may respond in a very noticeable way. Most people note a sense of wellbeing and relaxation; however, sometimes people report feeling lethargic, nauseous or tearful, but this is usually temporary and reflexologists believe that it is part of the healing process. With regular treatment you may notice yourself sleeping better and find your mood and sense of wellbeing improving. You may also find that other aspects improve too; however, this happens on an individual basis.

What will happen during a reflexology session?

Reflexology is a very easy therapy to receive; depending on the type of reflexology, the most clothing that will have to be removed for a treatment to take place will be your socks and shoes.

A full medical history will be requested on your first treatment to ensure that reflexology is right for you. You will be asked to sign a consent form and all information will be kept confidential.

A treatment usually lasts for one hour and you will be invited to recline on a comfortable chair or couch in a warm environment.  Feet may be examined and cleansed at the start of treatment. The therapist will then use their hands to apply appropriate pressure to the feet, lower leg, hands, ears or face, depending on the type of reflexology chosen. You may feel areas of transient discomfort during the treatment, but generally the experience should be relaxing.

It is useful to give feedback to the reflexologist as this may show the response of your body to treatment. This in turn might help the reflexologist to tailor treatments to suit your individual needs and devise a programme of care to help improve your condition.  A series of treatments are usually required.

Research on the effectiveness of reflexology

Whilst there is a lot of research that indicates reflexology is a beneficial treatment, as yet, there is not a large enough body of evidence to make clinical claims of effectiveness. Professional reflexologists do not claim to cure, diagnose or prescribe and reflexology should not be used as an alternative to seeking medical advice.

According to several studies in the USA, the practice of reflexology has resulted in reduced sick leave and absenteeism. People have consistently reported complete or partial improvement in conditions where they sought reflexologists’ help and even relief for additional problems related to stress. In one health study, almost one-third of the patients reported greater satisfaction with their jobs after completing six sessions with a reflexologist.

Choosing a reflexologist

Deciding to visit a complementary health practitioner, at a time when you might be feeling vulnerable, should be considered carefully. It is important to choose a qualified reflexologist who has undertaken all the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of reflexology. For specialist practitioners working with infants, children and women throughout pregnancy, additional training is also required.

There are several recognised professional associations for reflexology including the Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) and the Association of Reflexologists (AoR). You should ensure that the therapist is a member of a professional association as this is evidence of compliance with national standards of best practice in complementary healthcare provision.

The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC) is backed by the Department of Health and if a complementary health practitioner has the CNHC quality mark it means that they have:

  • undertaken a programme of education and training which meets, as a minimum, National Occupational Standards,
  • relevant experience of at least three years,
  • provided an independent reference of their good character,
  • hold current professional indemnity insurance.

For more information on reflexology or to find out more about the treatments Christine provides, please view her editorial profile on The Mind Sanctuary Directory, or visit her website.  You can also connect with her on twitter or facebook.

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