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Practical Advice for Reflexologists and Complementary Therapists

by Sue Ricks(more info)

listed in clinical practice, originally published in issue 130 - December 2006

Patient receiving reflexology

A world of happy and successful Reflexologists with satisfied and happy clients. Is this a possible reality? I think it is and here’s why.

Huge numbers of people are now turning to Reflexology, both as a client and as a practitioner. The past 20 years has seen a revolution in the public’s attitude to Reflexology. It has become respected, researched, more widely known and much appreciated.

So why do some Reflexologists have full diaries whilst others are struggling to get clients? Is it fate, or could it be something that we have an influence over and can do something about?

I believe that there are so many things that we can do to greatly improve our success, enjoyment and the results of our Reflexology practice. When I first entered the world of Reflexology, almost 20 years ago, it was a subject that was not very well known to people and was often viewed with suspicion. I remember being at a dinner dance, and a friend’s husband laughed at my response to his question about my profession. He proceeded to whip off his shoes and present two bare feet onto the dinner table, asking what I thought of them. Little did he know that I ‘saw’ that he had a prostate problem and an inefficiently functioning colon! Fortunately, we now have more recognition of the fabulous world of Reflexology, and it is our responsibility to keep that trend going.

Paying Attention

We are all responsible for the image that is being presented of this therapy. My students are encouraged to pay special attention to their presentation when practising Gentle Touch™ Reflexology. I know that they find the standard of presentation exacting and sometimes annoying at the outset, but quickly see that the results are well worthwhile. The success rates in both the written and practical exams from the School are extremely high. This is a result of some extremely hard work and their attention to the fine details. It is the subtle and small stuff that makes the difference.

Our clients know how much attention they get from us. They notice it in subtle ways and also see the attention to detail that we have made in order to provide a good service. Instead of ‘paying attention’, think of the client ‘paying for attention’.
They pay for:

  • Attention to them (uniquely);
  • Their reasons for attending;
  • Their personal and individual likes and dislikes;
  • Their preferred method of payment/re-booking, etc.

It is good to think of a time when you sought professional help and had a positive experience. Take a few moments to remember what happened. What made the difference? How did it make you feel? What did they do?

There are many reasons why it may have been a good experience. Also, recall a time when it was not a good experience. What was the difference? Acknowledge what does not work and ensure you get it right for yourself. I remember being treated in a ladies’ living room on the sofa, being covered by brown towels and a tartan blanket, all of which smelled of dogs and had dog hairs on them. Not a good experience.
Some of my favourite visits to practitioners are when I am clearly expected and everything is well prepared.
Some Suggestions to Consider

  • Ensure the room is a pleasant temperature (according to the client’s preference);
  • Ask how the client is and how ‘things’ are – really listen and acknowledge.
  • A variety of subtle lights/candles, etc., to create a warm and inviting ambience to the space/room;
  • Knowing how your client likes to be greeted “Hello Mr Brown” or “Hello Jim”, and respecting that. There is a modern trend to greet all clients by their first name when you get to know them. However, some people, especially people of more mature years, may prefer Mr, Mrs, and Dr Brown, etc. 
  • If you offer drinks to clients on arrival, keep a note of what they prefer, so you can be prepared. This shows you remembered something personal about them. Some clients like a small glass, some a large. Pay attention to them and record it on your client record sheet;
  • Ask clients if they prefer music, or not, during or aftertheir treatment. I personally vary this option as I knowthat some of my clients like to chat. So I only put musicon for some of them as they rest at the end of thetreatment. For others, I have it on all the way through,and yet there are those who do not like music on at all.One client (a distant relative) absolutely hates music, andit would really annoy this client if I put music on. It would destroy the relaxation and total ambience of the treatmentif I forgot and put it on;
  • Remember how your client likes to pay if they arereturning for a repeat visit. If you work in a clinic you can notify reception of their preferences. However, ifyou take the payment yourself, you can be prepared with their receipt or know they prefer to pay by credit card, etc., (if appropriate);
  • Always have pleasantly presented information about your treatments, what you do and how they can contact you.An advice sheet is reassuring to your client to take away with them. They may not remember all that you told them about their first treatment and an advice sheet can tell them about any healing response they may experience. A healing response is a sign of the treatment working, etc. They may need the reassurance of how to contact you if needed. (Note: I use the term ‘healing response’ as it is a response to their healing treatment of Reflexology. I donot feel that ‘healing crisis’ is a word that sits well with Gentle Touch™ Reflexology, as a ‘crisis’ implies something urgent and wrong. A healing response more accurately describes what is happening, and that is what I useand teach.)

Going the Extra Mile

Giving your clients more than they expect is such a good habit to get into. I know it is not possible to please all of the people all of the time, but clients will really value any extra support, help or information that you can give them. Remembering their personal details, requirements, etc., goes a long way. Remembering about issues, events and happenings in their life can mean so much. Your client may have mentioned that they are helping a relative move house, or that their partner is looking for a new job. Simply asking about that event, as well as their health and their response to the previous treatment can work wonders. Building an excellent rapport with your client is the cornerstone of a full and successful clinic.

Fact Sheets

Another way of giving more than they expect can be to take the time to research the most common complaints and produce your own fact and help sheet. This can contain a brief outline of the condition or complaint, some simple recommendations and self-help information. Always remember to add your contact details (including your website if you have one) so that the client has this for further reference. These fact sheets work really well. They help your clients, and may also help someone else if they are passed on, and also advertises your services.


Some Reflexologists choose to, or are required to, wear a uniform whilst others prefer to wear everyday clothes. Whatever you do, pay attention to your presentation and make it the best you can do according to your situation. My students all wear white tops during their training. Many have reported back that their clients really like the fact that they arrive (even during training) looking well prepared and professional, and the clients have a feeling of security and confidence.


If you have clinic area you can put certificates on display, as clients like to see your level of expertise. I did not realize this, and so, many years ago I had a ‘wake up’ call. A lady said to my secretary that she could not come to me as I had no certificates on show and, therefore, had no qualifications. At the time I felt that I had done all my qualifications, exams and training. I did not think I had to prove that I had ‘worked hard’, but this lady’s comments made me think. Since then I still have my relaxing pictures, but also some of my certificates and the Gentle Touch™ Reflexology chart on view, as they are important for some clients to see.

Two Eyes and Ears and One Mouth – The ‘Buzz’ Factor

I often think that being a Reflexologist is one of the most fantastic and rewarding careers there is. I totally love my life in Reflexology, and adore sharing my passion with others who want to know more about Gentle Touch™ Reflexology. The ‘buzz’ factor comes from being a detective!

I never realized that when I started in this career that I was also going to become a detective with an interest in forensic science! It is the clues that are given to us by clients that make this a great career. Really paying attention can bring surprising results. Listen and look, listen and look, listen and look again. The client may come with a painful shoulder and we know that Reflexology can be brilliant in assisting clients to overcome shoulder pain. However, there may be more!

Always look for the links, correlations, energy meanings and foot reading implications as well.
An example:

  • The shoulder physically – clavicle and scapula;
  • The shoulder metaphorically – the weight of the world on their shoulders;
  • The shoulder is at the level of the throat chakra;
  • The throat chakra is related to issues of communication (among other things);
  • The area of the scapula is relatedto feelings;
  • The colour of the shoulder reflex is significant too. Maybe it is red, and they are getting annoyed or embarrassed about things; 
  • The scapula is in an area relating to how a person feels with their immediate and extended family, plus how confident or insecure they feel.

All this can be invaluable information that can be used to assist both you and your client. Simply by coming with a painful shoulder and you seeing their feet you may know, (before you even touch the feet and feel the reflexes), that the client may be struggling with family issues, may be overdoing it and coping with too much and trying to carry a burden (and failing or weakening). All this information is gleaned like a detective gathering clues. This is what can make you an extra-special Reflexologist.

Continue to pay attention to their energy levels and the feeling of their aura and energy around their feet. Pay attention to how the colour, texture, shape, tone of feet and position of the toes changes during the treatment. Everything means something.


Always give honest and measured feedback. Think before you speak! I have heard some classics in my time. I once heard a Reflexologist at a demonstration say that the client had a problem with their kidneys and then close the session with the client and just walk off! The poor client was consumed with worry. It is essential that you give the client something positive to go away with, even if you found something you are not sure about. You may refer your client to a medical practitioner, or ask them to seek medical advice, etc., but always give some reassurance even if it is only “This treatment can help people in many different ways; let’s see what happens with you”.

Closing Your Treatment

Remember to offer any follow-up advice and, if necessary, any support notes or reminders. Give them some positive feedback about the session and let them know when you think will be a good time to re-book. Your clients will often look to you for guidance, and when they need to come back. It is then up to your client to actually book another appointment.

As soon as you have closed the treatment and seen your client out, immediately return to prepare for the next client. Make it a habit.

Rest and Relaxation

Lead by example. If you would like your clients to smile and to be happy, then focus on what makes you smile and be happy. Keep these things in mind as you prepare for your next client.


If you follow these starter points and keep adding to your skills and attention to detail, you will become much more successful. Your attitude is paramount, if you look out for what works and do more of that it will work. I have been practising for many years now. I am passionate about teaching and sharing about Gentle Touch™ Reflexology and I love the results that the clients get. It is a fabulous world to be involved in, and I look forward to more and more people getting excellent results.

There is a huge benefit from being treated uniquely and individually. Sometimes it is the smallest things that make the biggest difference.


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About Sue Ricks

Sue Ricks (Cert Ed) is a lecturer in reflexology at the University of Derby, runs her own training school in Leicestershire, which offers courses on Gentle Touch™ Reflexology, NLP, Reiki and Feng Shui. She is a Member of the Association of Reflexologists (MAR), British Register of Complementary Practitioners (BRCP reflex and energy) and the Guild of Complementary Practitioners (GCP). She is also a Reiki Master, Feng Shui consultant and Master NLP practitioner and runs her own clinic in Loughborough.

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