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Reflexology from the Grassroots Up

by Candice Caradoc(more info)

listed in reflexology, originally published in issue 85 - February 2003

Throughout the '90s the interest in and demand for natural therapies increased dramatically. Recognition of 'alternative' (now called complementary) health services has been achieved to the point where these services have their own associations, academies, accredited courses, publications and practitioners available in nearly all areas throughout Australia.

One such natural therapy is reflexology. Reflexology uses the soles of the feet as a mirror of the body, with different areas on the feet corresponding to different organs and body parts. The reflexes in the feet (and hands and ears) are stimulated with various massage techniques to promote healing in the body.

Lynn Hatswell is a well-established reflexologist. These days she concentrates mainly on teaching, sharing as much of her experience with students as she can. Lynn does stress: "We're not about curing, or healing from the outside ... but clients' symptoms reduce, their aches and pains tend to subside."

Lynn says of her 20 years working with clients: "Sometimes you see them for a long series of sessions. Sometimes it's only once or twice; the improvement is so great you don't see them again, they go hoorahing off into the sunset and then, over the next year or two, you get their daughter, husband, auntie - they all come wanting the same result."

Lynn Hatswell supervising a reflexology student practitioner
Lynn Hatswell supervising a reflexology student practitioner

One past client was a man who'd had an enlarged prostate for six months. He went to Lynn only a few weeks before he was booked for surgery; she did two sessions a week with him and showed his wife areas to work on between sessions. After two weeks the prostate stopped enlarging and he had better bladder function. The doctors were very impressed with the way he sailed through the surgery with no problems at all.

Another client was a woman who came because of sore, tired feet. After her feet improved, she decided to keep having sessions fortnightly. After a couple of months Lynn could see she was looking better, and asked how she was doing. Pains in her neck and shoulders had eased. Also, she said, she didn't get nosebleeds any more. The client's medical history made no mention of nosebleeds, although Lynn had felt something in her feet around the sinus reflex area. The woman said she'd been having nosebleeds for years, from a couple a week to two a day, but she hadn't had one for the past month.

Lynn says: "The impact of reflexology in treating a person depends on their response, whether they're willing to let go of whatever it is and where it comes from - what it's about underneath".

Sometimes clients get insights from their sessions with Lynn, as to the mental/emotional problems or blockages behind their physical ailments. "That's the best part", says Lynn, "not 'you've fixed it, my pain's gone' but 'I've realized something, I've just realized what's creating that pain', or 'I had this incredible dream, and it suddenly registered...'"

Lynn started out in the field of natural therapies over 20 years ago, when there were no natural therapy academies, and virtually no practice of reflexology was evident. In her earlier years, Lynn admits, she would have found reflexology 'airy fairy'. She was a medical secretary in a more orthodox lifestyle.

She was already intrigued by natural therapies, however, when she heard about Findhorn, a New Age community in London (now called the Findhorn Foundation). She'd already done a meditation class the previous year (1977) when meditation classes were just starting in Perth.

A couple of months after her meditation course she'd started to become fed up with her medical secretary job. For some time she'd felt it wasn't right for her. She thought: "This is not me any more I can't be in this environment." So, in 1978 Lynn travelled to England and stayed in Findhorn for about two weeks. There her interest in natural therapies was first triggered by Prenatal Therapy - working on the reflection of the spine on the feet, as a reflection of the prenatal experience. She did a weekend course on the subject in London before returning to Perth.

Lynn decided to go back to her secretarial work for a year, to save enough to not have to work the year after so she could focus on natural therapies. A few months later, in March 1979, basic kinesiology classes were starting in Perth. There she met Derek DeBradley (now a well-respected kinesiologist). He was a part time masseur in one of the only two health clubs in Perth at the time.

Derek asked Lynn if she had done any reflexology. She said she hadn't but had learned about Prenatal Therapy (now called Metamorphosis) the previous year in the UK, and that it was originally derived from reflexology. Derek had learnt some reflexology with a masseur in Perth who had trained in the US.

Lynn and Derek started to explore the reflexes using kinesiology muscle-testing as a way to test their methods. Apart from the occasional weekend course by a visiting reflexologist, they were the first people to develop reflexology in WA.

At the same time Lynn and Derek started the first kinesiology practice group. Some of the group became increasingly interested in reflexology. So it began a spontaneous teaching as Lynn and Derek showed the group what they knew. Others heard about it from the first group, and it began to snowball from there.

Within a year Lynn and Derek saw that their method of working and testing the reflexes produced results. They'd mapped their own chart of an anatomical reflection onto the feet.

From September 1979 Lynn didn't work as such for over a year. She shared a house with a friend and lived off her savings. While Lynn had become more interested in reflexology and Prenatal Therapy, Derek's vocation was kinesiology. Over the next few years Lynn continued to refine their reflexology chart while seeing Derek only rarely.

After not having worked for a little over a year, Lynn did some part-time office work on and off. Well-paid temporary jobs for five or six weeks would come her way, which would then tide her over for several months. By 1985 she didn't have to take these jobs; she was working full time with reflexology and Metamorphosis. "It doesn't have to take that long these days", Lynn says, "but I was formulating the pattern as I went."

For a while, any information passed on about Lynn's work, or any other endeavours in the field of natural therapies, was entirely via the grapevine. There were no natural therapy academies, no mind/body expos, no holistic sections in the newspapers; nothing in the way of recognition for natural therapies.

Lynn says: "For the first few years - 1979, '80, '81 - it was very early days. Possibly 1% of the population, if that, had the slightest clue about what reflexology and kinesiology were. In those days if you were into natural therapies you had to be really interested in it, because it was considered a bit strange. It certainly was an unusual occupation then."

But by the mid to late '80s natural therapies became quite popular. The interest expanded and mushroomed at an incredible rate into the '90s. "The last few years, it has become more and more popular", Lynn says, "with people taking a real interest in their own health. A lot of people now come for maintenance of their health, not just because they're ill."

In 1989 Flora Casotti came into Lynn's first certificate class. With her keen interest in natural therapies, Flora soon began to practise then teach reflexology. Together Lynn and Flora continued to refine the reflex charts, incorporating the traditional Chinese medicine five element colours, considered in Chinese medicine for thousands of years to relate to various organs. These charts are now becoming accepted as the first Australian reflexology charts.

In 1990 Lynn, Flora and their associates felt it was time to form an association, which was at first an interest group, only some of whom were actually practising. The Reflexology Association (RAA) of Australia is now a much more professional association with radical changes in the last few years. The course run by Lynn and Flora - originally 70 hours - is now 250 hours, along RAA guidelines and is government accredited.

Lynn sees reflexology as a complementary treatment, as opposed to alternative. "It fits in very well with orthodox medicine", she says. She considers that reflexology and other natural therapies will be connected in a more formal or acknowledged way to the medical profession in the future. There is already the beginning of some recognition and acceptance. Lynn says it helps that a number of nurses and midwives have trained in the courses. As Lynn puts it: "It's easier for the medical profession to accept reflexology from nurses who are part of the medical system."

The integration of reflexology and other natural therapies into 'conventional' or 'modern' treatment is evident in the fact that a number of the smaller health funds will now refund for reflexology.

"I started from the grassroots up," Lynn says. "From very small beginnings it's been quite a journey."


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