Online Reflexology Certification and Certificate Program Information

Reflexology is a system of therapies that use manipulation of reflex points on the hands, feet and ears to diagnose and bring about therapeutic changes to corresponding body parts. Traditional training for reflexology certification includes hours of hands-on training and supervised clinical practice in addition to coursework. Online programs offer required reflexology classes, but may not meet practical certification requirements.

Essential Information

Online training programs in reflexology are available, but may not meet the certification requirements set forth by the American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB), which requires a specified amount of hands-on training. Online programs may only offer online coursework and exams, or their experience requirements may fall short of what is necessary for certification. However, students can choose to supplement an online program with supervised experience.

The ARCB recommends those seeking education in reflexology look for ARCB-certified instructors; potential students may want to seek programs accredited by the American Commission for Accreditation of Reflexology Education and Training. Reflexology falls under the broader category of massage therapy, which requires licensure in 43 states; check the requirements in your state before choosing an educational program.

Online Reflexology Certificate Program Overview

Reflexologists practice a traditional Chinese medical discipline in which pressure is applied to various points on a person's palms, feet and outer ear to prevent or alleviate discomfort or medical conditions. Practitioners then massage these reflex points to direct the person's internal energies to the afflicted areas in order to encourage self-healing.

The ARCB requires certification candidates to complete a program that includes significant hands-on learning and experience ( Reflexology programs offered via distance-learning do not provide supervision of hands-on work, and offer little assistance to students seeking clinical practice situations. Some online training programs offer certificates of completion to students who complete their courses and pass examinations, but these certificates may not qualify graduates to sit for the ARCB certification exam.

Program Information and Requirements

Training programs may focus exclusively on reflexology, or they can include reflexology as part of a program of training for several massage modalities. Some practitioners are careful to make a distinction between reflexology as a diagnostic and therapeutic system and massage programs that are misidentified as reflexology, but simply concentrate on techniques to massage the feet and hands.

Applicants to an online reflexology program should have a high school diploma or its equivalent, as well as proficiency in the sciences. Distance-learning courses may be delivered via videotape, DVD or the Web. Some online programs ask students to document over 100 hours of unsupervised hands-on foot manipulation with written logs and two 1-hour videotapes, but this approach falls short of ARCB certification requirements.

Course and Class Information

The ARCB recommends a minimum of 110 hours of accredited instruction consisting of 40 hours of reflexology history and theory, 55 hours of anatomy and physiology, five hours of business ethics and standards, and ten hours of supervised clinical practice. A further 90 hours of documented post-graduate clinical practice are also required. Much of the anatomy and physiology coursework and all of the clinical practice requires hands-on patient contact and supervision that cannot be fulfilled through distance-learning courses.

Distance-learning students may prefer to supplement an online program with separate hands-on classes in reflexology. Or they may choose to arrange for their own preceptor and clinical practice at a nearby health spa, holistic health practice or chiropractic center. Doing so means gaining supervised training while gathering the experience needed to obtain certification. Courses required for certification include:

Zones and Meridians Course

Reflexology, like acupuncture and acupressure, follows the guidelines of energy traveling through the body along 12 meridians. The distal surfaces of the feet and hands are divided into zones, each of which corresponds to a body part or organ system.

Anatomy and Physiology Course

This course reviews the physiological structure of the body, and students learn the locations of reflex points and how to identify different palpated textures. Concepts are presented in the contexts of modern Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.

Pain Relief Through Reflexology Course

Students learn techniques to massage reflex points for the purpose of relieving pain throughout the body. Other forms of massage and zone therapy are compared to reflexology.

Safety Issues in Reflexology Course

Although there are few risks involved in reflexology, this course covers situations in which some reflexology practices are contraindicated. Massage in areas with blood clotting, weak bones or healing wounds should be avoided. A variety of conditions that require special care are discussed.

Hand and Ear Reflexology Course

The primary focus of initial reflexology certification is foot reflexology. In this course, students focus on the hand and ear reflex points, and the most effective ways to use them.

Career Information for Reflexologists

As of 2011, 43 U.S. states had laws regulating massage therapy. Reflexology was exempt from the more stringent massage regulations in 29 states. Licenses to practice are often required, but requirements vary widely. Some locales require reflexologists to have a massage license, and a few require an adult entertainment license. However, programs offered solely online generally do not fulfill the requirements for licensure in any state.

Reflexologists may practice independently, but many find work in sport and fitness centers, health spas, hospitals or nursing homes. They may also partner with other alternative or homeopathic medicine practitioners. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists in general earned a median annual salary of $35,970 as of May 2012.

Certification and Licensing Information

The ARCB reflexology exam is open to graduates of accredited programs, or students who have accumulated 110 hours of reflexology coursework in addition to supervised clinical practice. The exam consists of a practical test to evaluate physical knowledge and manipulation technique, 300 written questions and a review of 90 documented hours of post-graduate reflexology client sessions. Certified reflexologists who have taken an additional 30 hours of hand reflexology courses and documented 20 clinical hours of hand sessions can take the ARCB examination to earn additional hand reflexology certification.

Both certifications remain valid for two years, during which practitioners must earn 12 continuing-education credits to remain certified. Many of the courses offered by online reflexology schools are approved for continuing-education credits.

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