Featured Therapist Emma Baxter PRM
Emma Baxter PRM trained with a Professional Reflexology Affiliated School at Level 5 and qualified in August 2016. She has since built a very successful practice in her home town of Northampton. We talked to Emma on a spring day to find out how she has getting on.
Tell us a bit about your background and how did you start.
My background is nursing. I qualified as a nurse in 1999 and worked mainly in intensive care, oncology and chemotherapy in our local General Hospital. It was when I was on maternity leave that I decided to leave nursing. I had reached a point where I was quite stressed and exhausted and I just decided it was time for a change. I wasn't sure what to do but it was my mother who said she always wanted to try reflexology and to have a go.
Were you having treatment yourself at this time?
Yes I was having treatment with a reflexologist for baby reflexology and she showed me what to do with Rose. The reflexes were so clearly defined on her and that's really what proved it to me. I then started having treatment myself and that’s what made me want to start training.
So basically your daughter’s treatment is the reason you started this journey?
Yes and I have two clients who are considering training as reflexologists because they have seen the benefits it has brought to them.
Why did you decide it was reflexology that you wanted to do?
It was purely having reflexology for certain issues. I had mild postnatal depression after Rose and it certainly helped to get my hormones back into balance, helped with my energy levels and the more I looked into it the more I realise there was something in it
Are you saying that from the point of view using your background as a nurse and not just as a reflexologist?
I came into it using my nursing brain, and thinking ‘I can feel this area yes it relates to the shoulder because that is where it is working on me.’ My thinking was quite methodical and I could clearly place it with my nursing, and felt yes this could work alongside it.
It sounds as though you feel in the body when somebody is working on your feet?
Sometimes. Many of my clients do now and they will say they are getting a sensation here or there, again this is proving it to me more and more. I can touch reflex area, and they know nothing about reflexology, yet they tell me they feel something within the body area that I’m working on. It’s what convinces me more and more that there is a connection between our feet and our bodies.
You trained at level 5 why did you choose to train at that level?
Because I wanted to train to the highest level. I have my nursing qualification and I wanted something that matched that. Plus something that was a challenge for me and to make sure that I got a really good qualification behind me.
Do you think that being trained at that level has helped your business after you qualified?
My clients don’t necessarily ask me how I’ve trained, but I think that having that level of training helps when they come for treatment. As soon as you give a treatment they think you’ve been practising for years, and that’s because of the training. You are a very good reflexologist at the end of that training
Would you think your clients recommend you because of the standard at which you trained?
Yes. My clients recommend me because of the treatments that they get, and that is through the training. I don’t advertise or promote myself at all now.
I was going to ask you how much marketing you do
Well, at the beginning, I had my Facebook page and leaflets but now I don't advertise at all, my clients come to me from recommendation. I still have my Facebook page and web page because I think it is nice for people to be able to look and see a picture of you and what your image is. I do get people who go to my Facebook page and like it and then sometime later they will book an appointment, but it is mainly a back up to recommendation.
And that's all come to you in a seven-month period hasn’t it?
When I first qualified last I had a client base of about 15 people per week and it's now about 30.
Would you consider making offers if your business started to fall away?
Yes I would because it worked very well for me.
But if you give a fantastic treatmentand people tell someone else that’s how you get your clients. Sometimes I think with all this networking everybody's just hungry for their own business and there is only so much recommendation you can do. You just need to build on your own skills. How I view reflexology is that there are so many people out there waiting to be told and to discover reflexology that you don’t have to be in competition with others. There is enough business out there. It is about supporting each other, and spreading the word.
I want to put all my energyinto giving a really good treatment not into advertising on Facebook etc. I want to give the whole package. So now I always book out an hour and a half even though the treatment is less than an hour. That way if somebody wants to talk to me I can help them as much as I can. I think that’s why people recommend to others because they don’t feel rushed and they know I will give them as much time as I can. Sometimes people just need someone empathetic to talk to.
With your background have you tried to use your reflexology skills within the NHS?
I have tried and frankly I met with a brick wall. In the oncology centre where I used to work and they do have the McMillan centre and they do offer treatments. Outside they also have a centre where they offer free treatments. But in the hospital itself they had no interest in me unless it was free. They wanted to select who came to me, and they wanted me to discuss with them afterwards which of course I can’t do because of my codes of ethics; it is confidential. They also didn’t want me to promote my business. That is understandably not allowed in the hospital, but they did not want me to see anybody afterwards. As far as I am concerned it would be wrong of me just give them a couple of treatments to support them while they were having chemo, and then effectively abandon them because I could not give details of where I can be contacted.
Did they understand reflexology in the hospital?
No, the person that saw me was actually a hairdresser who was setting up alternative and complementary therapies and she had no idea what reflexology is. It is a shame, because with my knowledge of Chemotherapy it could have been very good.
So, chopping and changing and coming back to your training, what was the scariest thing about the whole experience of change for you
I think the biggest jump for me was deciding to leave nursing and to lose my registration. It meant that I would have had to have registered again and do my training again if it had not gone well for me, so it was a huge decision. The gamble was to leave nursing and train without ever knowing if I was going to be successful at it. Or even if I was going to enjoy it!
So why did you do it?
Because I was so frustrated with the NHS and I was exhausted, it is so stressful, but I still wanted to be working in a way that I can help people, and where I have time to help people.
We had a look at your clinic room and it is lovely. When did you decide to convert a room rather than being mobile?
I decided to build up my business. I do offer mobile visits but it’s only for people who can’t drive and my elderly clients. I did for a while work at a clinic but I found the clients prefer to come to my room. It’s peaceful and quiet and it’s a much more relaxing environment, so I’m now fully focused on building up the reputation of the Lavender Room
How many clients would you normally see in a week?
I now generally see about 30 people per week.
Are they regular clients?
I would say about 70% are regular clients. Many started off coming once a week now they have settled down and they come on a four to six week cycle.
I have new enquiries every week and I am doing a lot in pregnancy but they don’t always come back after the birth of the baby because they're busy, so that is an area where I do have room for new clients.
Do you have many clients who come just for relaxation or do you find they come with specific conditions?
A lot of people come to me who tell me there is nothing wrong, but after we have completed the questionnaire and, during treating, I have found something, I ask and they often say ‘Oh yes I do have this tension here or that problem there’ so it does turn out that is not just relaxation. Often they don’t realise that reflexology may be able to help with those conditions.
What would you say to somebody just starting their training?
My strongest advice would be if you want to do the course, and be successful, then you really must start from day one thinking about your clients. Building up a basis for clientele, so that when you start in practice you are underway, and you already have your client base. For example a number of those people from when I first started training, practising a very basic treatment, are still with me today. They have grown with me and they love reflexology.
Do you have any regrets about becoming a reflexologist?
No none whatsoever, the only regret is not doing it 10 years ago. I wish I had done it sooner!
Emma Baxter PRM http://www.lavenderroom.co.uk/