Today is a really special day. It’s the first National Reflexology Day here in Canada. National Reflexology Day was started by the Reflexology Association of Canada to raise awareness around the benefits and accessibility of Reflexology in Canada. This special day will be held every year on the last Tuesday of May. We are extremely lucky to be joined by four members of the Reflexology Association of Canada to talk about this amazing career and effective, non-invasive, holistic, natural therapy in Canada. Joining us today are Laura Marrast (Director of Operations, Reflexology Association of Canada), Nicole Greaves (RCRT, Owner of Healthcare Solutions), Lise Musso (RAC Student Member) and Ines Hardtke (Professional Development Manager, Reflexology Association of Canada).
Nicole: I've been in health care for over three decades. I became a reflexology therapist in 2014, and I now offer foot reflexology therapy service for the mind and body. I enjoy learning and being part of a wonderful profession.
Laura: I am the Director of Operations at the Reflexology Association of Canada, which is a national professional association which we'll get to talk about later on. I am not a professional reflexology therapist, but I've been with the association for eight years and I come to this podcast to talk more about the guidelines and standards and some of the other aspects surrounding the profession.
Lise: I'm a student. I was just recently certified and now I've scheduled my exam to be a Registered Reflexology Therapist. Hopefully, by the end of this month, I will be among the greats and be registered for reflexology. Today's my birthday, I turned 49 and I’m looking forward to being a Reflexology Therapist because helping people is a passion of mine.
Ines: I am currently the Professional Development Manager working with Laura at the Reflexology Association Canada. I am also a practitioner of reflexology. I teach reflexology and it originally came to me sort of like a natural language because my father practiced Reflexology. So, I just kind of grew up knowing it. I am also a fan of reflexology.
Lise: That is one of the questions on the exam. It's a study of the reflexes. That's what it is. It's therapeutic methodologies that say that every organ and gland is connected to our feet. Reflexology is to help people and I'm excited to learn more and more about it.
Ines: Most people do know foot reflexology and often people do start in foot reflexology, but even foot reflexology, there are a bunch of different techniques. It's foot, hand, and ear. There are many modalities in reflexology, and they all have in common that they're therapeutic methods. They're meant to be therapeutic to help the body relieve stress, get circulation going. The biggest one in my books is to actually help the body do what the body does best and the body really wants to be well and healthy. The idea behind it is by working on one part of the body, you're mapping it to another part of the body. With foot reflexology, the idea is by working the foot, you're working the whole body and the reflexes in the feet. That's where it comes from.
Laura: I'm just going to jump in just to say I know one of the things people get confused about is we throw around different terms like reflexology versus reflexology therapists. At the Reflexology Association of Canada, we like to use the term Reflexology Therapists for a couple of reasons. One, like Nicole said, we're looking at addressing the whole body, looking at our clients, people as a whole person. So the therapeutic aspect of reflexology is really important, hence reflexology therapists. Our federally trademarked designation is Registered Canadian Reflexology Therapists and we're really proud of all of the leads is currently going through the licensing exam process right now. It is a process people have to study and work hard to obtain that designation and we want to highlight all of the amazing people who go through that process, get that designation and are currently actively keeping it.
Nicole: I'd have to say that for myself, I operate a foot reflexology practice. That's part of a holistic alliance of my practice called Health Care Solutions. It's really about promoting that wellness investment. We live in a culture of when it's broken, we fix it. In my practice, and many of my other colleagues, we look at it as promoting and maintaining wellness because we know it's easier to fix and easier to take care of versus fixing. I look at it from a head to toe perspective. A typical day, because many reflexology therapists operate their own practice, it's really a diverse area to work in. Firstly, being in an independent practice, I think I focus on the client, that person who has an appointment with me and who is coming for a session by getting first their consent. We need to have people consent to have their session done to having this application of this pressure point technique to their reflexes. As Lise mentioned, that's connected to all parts of their body, which the goal of is to help them relieve some of that tension. Boy, I know that we've got tension. Let's not mention all the seas in the world that cause that and improving that circulation. I know that so many of my clients and many of my other colleagues' clients come to us seeking relief, seeking, whether it be release from pain. They want to improve their energy and release the body of toxins. We're a go, go, go society. The reflexology therapy also resets the nervous system from that fight or flight to rest and restore and help the system to function better. Secondly, as an entrepreneur, you are the marketing person, the i.t. Person or social media manager, accounting all of it in one. But I feel for myself in that day of the life, it's really trying to embrace each day with that vulnerability in pursuit of my goal of wanting to care and to give that compassionate care and making a difference. It can be a struggle as an entrepreneur, but it also has it's moments of exhilaration whereby I can say that when I see someone who comes to my office and they fall off to sleep, but it's not that sleep of it's nighttime, but it's one of I am I am resting. I'm giving my body an opportunity to release stress and tension.
Ines: Most of us are independent business owners, even though a lot of us don't like to think of ourselves as independent business owners, we like to think of ourselves as helping people, but we are, we’re business owners. I find it interesting to hear other practitioners describe their day because a day in the life is so varied because most people are independent business owners, they kind of do what they want. For some people, it means they have a practice in their homes. Some people have a practice in the space that they rent. Some people are hired by spotters or integrative clinics. It really varies. Some people do mobile reflexology where they go to client’s homes or to the hospital or to cancer centers where we each find our own tribe and our clients end up resembling us. So, dear clients, if you're listening, we all know that word. The neurotics. So and that's actually a point that I want to bring in when we talk about the whole person. We're not just talking about body parts. We're actually also talking about emotion runs and thoughts and some people's spirituality with meaning. Whatever tensions we have, whether they're emotional tensions or thought tensions, those are also detoxed. I want to throw that in there, but a day in the life, there is no typical day in the life. It really is what works for whoever is doing it. It is as much as we love the reflexology part, like Nicole said, there is all of the other stuff which is booking appointments, cancelling appointments, moving appointments, saying, I get it, there's a snowstorm, you can't come. There is the social, there is all that other stuff that most of us don't love that actually it takes quite a bit of time as well as being with the clients.
Laura: Reflexology is not regulated by any province or territory in Canada, and that is important because that means there's no provincially government-defined list of requirements of what it takes to become a professional reflexology therapist. If we take, for example, massage therapy in Ontario and British Columbia, there are set schools and set requirements dictated by those provinces of what it means to become a Registered Massage Therapist in B.C. and Ontario. Whereas in, let's say, Saskatchewan or Manitoba, it isn't provincially regulated, so there isn't a government list of these are the approved schools, these are a list of requirements. Since it's not regulated, there are a number of schools, educators, other programs out there that do teach Reflexology. Now, as you said, a provincial or a professional association, we have our list of requirements and let us see someone who manages can go through that, but just that context, I think, is really important that there isn't that set sort of government list of requirements.
Ines: It's kind of a wonderful opportunity not being regulated, although I am kind of for regulation, but it's still right now we have a wonderful opportunity to decide what do I want to do with this. Somebody could hang a shingle out on their front lawn saying, ‘I do reflexology’, and nobody can say that they don't. The question becomes, your clients who are coming to see you, what do you want to let them know? It's a question of the public. What does the public expect? And then will the health insurance providers reimburse any receipts that are written? If that is the end goal, to have a client who knows what they're walking into with the health insurance provider who is going to reimburse the receipts, then you need to probably look at professional associations because then you're registered. There is a set public to the government, to the health insurance providers, and saying these are our requirements. There are different health professional associations as well. It sounds really strange to say you have the opportunity to shop for your professional association and to have a professional association. A lot of people go, ‘Oh, why do I have to do this’? Well, because these are standards, this is public, this is what we're doing, but you have to choose to be part of that. As for the education, our paper, the same thing. The educators, anybody can call themselves an educator of this because again, it's not regulated. There are no rules, but if their trainings want to be recognized by the various professional associations, they have to show that they meet or deliver materials that the different associations require. I hope people Google wisely and make a few phone calls and say, Wow, why should I go here?
Nicole: The last few years have really shown us that it's a new dawn post-COVID and the type of health care we've been offering hasn't been working well. I think the benefits and opportunities of Reflexology Therapy is being better recognized for its true holistic value. Clients, patients, and family members are looking for something different or something more. I feel that the opportunities are beginning to grow because of the positive experience that individuals have. I think we're going to be seeing the need for Reflexology Therapists to move into spaces and become integrated as part of the whole health and wellness system. With the Reflexology Association of Canada, who've been doing a lot of advocacy work to let the public know that we trained in a comprehensive way. We have standard ethics that we adhere to. We will see that in different places. As Ines mentioned before, there's a diversity of places to work, whether it be mobile within palliative care, within maternal health, mental health, all of those, I believe that our other health colleagues are beginning to recognize that we can be part of the solution to holistic care.
Laura: We're also seeing tangible evidence from the association side, job opportunities and requests from clinics saying, Hey, we want a Reflexology Therapist on our staff. We'd like someone to work alongside us. We're seeing an increase in those calls and an increase the public's awareness that reflexology could assist them in their health care. You’re seeing clients ask, ‘Can I have my reflexology therapists work on me while I'm in hospice or in a hospital or this is what I'm going through, and I'd like to also have this therapy alongside traditional oncology treatment’. We're seeing a growth and demand for access to these services.
Ines: I don't think we can be saturated. I always feel like the more of us there are, the more people have access to because again, our clients are going to reflect us and we can only do so many clients, at some point we're full up and there's nobody else. I say to people, shop your therapist, because if there isn't a connection, if you go for one session and you go, that's great, then I'm going, okay, that connection wasn't there. If you made a connection, you would be going back so that each of us is limited. The more of us, the more the word spreads. Like you were saying, it's been a while since you've gone for reflexology, and I think that's one of the tricky things with the tension - we build up. My limit is three weeks. If I don't have a reflexology session within three weeks, my feet have so much tension again because they're just tense and they're more like cement. If I regularly go, I'm going to feel, Ooh, you know what? And that's the good state. But when you're so tense that you don't feel things, you forget until something major happens. I know there can't be enough of us. Also, there's very few of us that only do reflexology. maybe one week, I would go to Nicole because that's what I'm needing this week. And next week I'll go to Lise. There can't be too many of us.
Laura: We're a national professional association. We're one of the oldest national professional reflexology associations in the world and the largest one in North America. We register professional reflexology therapists from coast to coast, but we also have international retreats. We have a lot of members and connections around the world from Australia to New Zealand to Singapore, Egypt, Germany, Switzerland, the US. Our focus really is about setting standards and guidelines for professional Reflexology Therapists here in Canada. These are the standards in terms of training standards to become a professional reflexology therapist. Once you achieve that, these are the things you need to keep up to date with to continue practicing in Canada. Health care is a constantly moving, shifting thing. One of the elements of our work is a continue education professional development program that requires all of our professional therapists to stay up to date with changes in health care in Canada and changes in the health insurance industry changes. Over the last three years, staying up to with all the public health orders of like what are we allowed or are not allowed to do on a given day, was a lot. So that's what we do. We support professional reflexology therapists in their business with the professional development. We have an advocacy promotion aspect of our where we promote our professional therapists and advocate on behalf of the reflexology profession broadly with government and insurance firms and other key stakeholders. We're multifaceted. We'll put out announcements and we'll put up things that the public needs to know. For example, we recently updated a few standards and a few guidelines and made them public so the public can go online and saying, hey, these are what we've told all of our therapists. This is what you should expect. If you don't like, let us know so we can follow up, we can educate, we can correct, we can support. We're multifaceted and we wear a couple of different hats by promoting the profession, promoting professionals as well as helping to protect the public as well.
Ines: I guess it's an important aspect because, yes, we promote our professional members, but we do so publicly so that the public also learns what should I expect, what should I look for, how should I choose? Because we all Google everything. Who's near me? How do I choose what I want?
Nicole: How do you report something? Because it's a professional association and we as RCRTs, you can connect with the reflexology association to voice a concern when you need to because that is part of protecting the public.
Laura: National Reflexology Day came out of a dream conversation around our head office team here a couple of years ago of saying we really would like an awareness day here in Canada to really highlight our professionals in Canada, but also promote reflexology as a viable health option here in Canada. The last three years of the pandemic kind of stalled some of those plans, but this year, today, May 30th, is our inaugural National Reflexology Day. We've got therapists across the country that are out in the community talking about reflexology, have gone to different workplaces and employers to tell them that they can go to our website to find out reflexology therapists near you to go get a session. I know a lot of therapists also running promotions or specials or other sort of packages that you can look into, but it's really about just promoting reflexology as a viable healthcare option for all Canadians.
Nicole: On this National Reflexology Day, it's important for the public to know that Reflexology Therapists are growing near you. With this trending research evidence about its effectiveness, health and wellness use and caring hands, I think we bring ourselves to this. Give it a try because it is real. If nothing else, follow the Reflexology Association of Canada on our socials.
Ines: Give it a try and if it doesn't work for you, try it with another person. It is about the connection. Don't keep going if it really doesn't feel right for you, but it is about that connection with the therapist.
Laura Marrast is currently the Director of Operations at the Reflexology Association of Canada. She has been with the organization since 2015, where she has been in various roles from an executive assistance to the interim CEO/Registrar.
Laura is passionate about integrative health and reframing ways in which we speak about healthcare in Canada.
She holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Journalism and Political Science with a concentration in international relations from Carleton University, in Ottawa and a master’s degree in International Affairs, concentrating in Europe and Eurasia, from The George Washington University in Washington D.C.
An eternal student, Ines has a great passion for loving life. Reflexology (and the passion for loving life) came to her through her father who took a RAC Foot course in the late 1970’s. And, after a first career in digital imaging at the National Film Board of Canada, she is now a practitioner of reflexology and acupressure, a teacher of TCM and reflexology and a happy member of the RAC team.
Born in Germany, raised in Ottawa and living in Montreal, Ines has a Bachelor of Life Sciences from Queen’s University, a Bachelor and Masters of Mathematics in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, is certified to practice and teach RAC Foot, Hand and Ear Reflexology and is certified in Acupressure from the Natural Health Consultants Institute. She speaks English, French and German.
Une éternelle étudiante, Ines a une grande passion pour aimer la vie. La réflexologie (et la passion pour aimer la vie) est venue à elle grâce à son père qui a suivi un cours des pieds de l’ACR à la fin des années 1970. Et, après une première carrière en imagerie numérique à l’Office National du Film du Canada, elle est maintenant un praticien de la réflexologie et de l’acupression, un enseignant de la MTC et de la réflexologie plantaire, palmaire et auriculaire et un heureux membre de l’équipe de l’ACR.
Née en Allemagne, élevée à Ottawa, vivant à Montréal, Elle possède un baccalauréat en sciences de la vie de l’Université Queen’s, un baccalauréat et une maîtrise de mathématiques en informatique de l’Université de Waterloo, est certifiée à pratiquer et à enseigner la réflexologie des pieds, mains et les oreilles de l’ACR et est certifiée en acupression de « Natural Health Consultants Institute ». Elle parle l’anglais, le français et l’allemand.
Lise is a wife and mother to an amazing supportive family. She loves to be in nature and spend the afternoons at the beach on a nice hot day with her family and friends.
She is a best-selling author who has always wanted to help people. She currently has a full-time job as an executive assistant but looking to build her passion of helping people into a business. She was inspired to learn reflexology through her grandfather and she hopes to be as good as him one day.
Nicole Greaves, Holistic Care Consultant; a Registered Canadian Reflexology Therapist (RCRT), Maternal Doula, Wellness Coach and Registered Nurse.
She is passionate about promoting and facilitating the benefits of having a health and wellness investment account for the mind and body. Her tagline is “You are the 1st Mortgage, invest in your self-care”.
Nicole is an avid volunteer and community leader. She is also the founder of “Ubuntu ConneXions” a community platform that embodies Umoja (unity) with caring and compassionate purpose. The platform offers program/service that fosters collaboration and kindness that will strengthen community belonging.
On the personal side of life, Nicole is intentional about embracing smiles, laughter and tears with family and friends.
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