Reflexology Training Today: a Short History
Prior to, and perhaps up until, the end of the 1990’s reflexology training in the UK was given largely by reflexologists with the desire to pass on their knowledge. You could train from a Saturday afternoon course in a village hall, six weekly evening classes or full-blown training courses. However, training standards varied enormously.
More formal training was, at that time, carried out by several schools using curricula provided by membership organisations such as the International Institute of Reflexology, the Association of Reflexologists, the British Reflexology Association and International Federation of Reflexologists. During this time an increasing demand developed both amongst the profession and the public for reflexology to be recognised. This, along with the growing use of CAM therapies, led the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee to produce a report, with their recommendations, which was published in November 2000.
The aim of the report in respect of reflexology training was to try to bring together the various available arrangements for training, and to create a universal standard.
Following the recommendations, most reflexology organisations continued with their own qualifications. However, the AoR appointed an outside awarding body, the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), to handle the examination/qualification of its accredited school’s students. By mid-2003 the AQA specification was finalised and accredited at Level 3. After a relatively short tenure, the baton was passed to ABC Awards, another body more experienced in vocational training. Other awarding bodies were producing their own specifications at level 3, however, the difference in the content and standard of these once again varied considerably.
It should be noted that Awarding Bodies are privately run companies, NOT government bodies.
During this period, because of the continued distancing from membership organisations, the specification for training became increasingly controlled by awarding bodies and more remote from reflexologists and those who were teaching the therapy.
Formed in September 2000 The Reflexology Forum, sought to bring together the various reflexology membership associations who were to develop National Occupational Standards for Reflexology. The resulting Core Curriculum for Reflexology was published in 2005. This was intended to be taken up by all those with an interest in reflexology training and produce the ‘level playing field’ that everybody could understand and trust.
This Core Curriculum is now out of date, a more current CC being published in 2018.
During 2009 the system of credits and units was introduced to training in England and a newly devised level 3 specification, designed to be universal across awarding bodies, was launched in 2010.
This proved to be far from 'the level playing field' that we had all hoped because, from the start, within the specification, there were two qualifications with either five or seven units, both designated 'Level 3 Diploma in Reflexology'.
This new qualification was a generic complementary therapy specification with only one of the units’ specific to reflexology. Fortunately, many of the well-established schools who had, by this time, become Professional Reflexology Affiliated Schools continued to teach the higher level of additional content that they had always included in their courses. This Level 3 has subsequently been superseded by another with reduced hours and content. Again, PR. Affiliated Schools teaching at Level 3 continue to teach to their established high standards providing quality training to their students.
Awarding Bodies, not Reflexologists, Tutors or Membership organisations, were now well and truly in charge of reflexology training. They no longer specified minimum contact teaching hours. The new L3 specification lent itself to short and fast track ‘training’ leading to the possibility of the 5, 6, and 7-day tutor contact courses that still exist today.
So, we had a situation whereby, far from having created this mythical level playing field, the standard of reflexology training had become even more confusing to the general public and prospective students than it had been prior to the House of Lords report.
Reflexology Training was no longer controlled by reflexologists. It was controlled by the requirements of those involved in more general further education.
With this background, one school decided to produce its own course.
The principal of Inspira Academy in Cardiff, Sue Evans, designed a course for her next group of students. She subsequently discovered that because of Welsh devolution she could do, what could not be done in England, and approach an awarding body directly. Her course was accredited at Level 5 by the Welsh awarding body Agored Cymru in 2012. Level 5 could then be accessed around the UK by partnership centres. Originally written solely by reflexologists, by 2016 content development of Level 5 had become increasingly influenced by the awarding body, with greater emphasis being placed on academic subject matter, with proportionately less time available for practical reflexology.
One of the major reasons for the formation of Professional Reflexology was the promotion and maintenance of high-quality training. We have always maintained that it is the quality of your training that matters, not just the name given to your qualification.
In 2018 the decision, influenced by a number of factors above, was made by PR to develop a qualification, the Professional Reflexology Practitioner Diploma (PRD) with quality of training written into the specification, and with particular emphasis on practical skills.
- The influence of awarding bodies over the content of reflexology training courses.
- No minimum criteria for practical reflexology within any course structure.
- Increasing emphasis on academic subject matter to the detriment of practical.
Because of Professional Reflexology minimum criteria for Membership and considering the standards of your training establishment, Membership of Professional Reflexology shows that, regardless of qualification, our Members are among the best-trained reflexologists in the UK.
Martyn Finke PRM
MD Professional Reflexology