CCR and CAR’s Official Review of the New 2018 Edition CNHC Reflexology Core Curriculum

Posted by Rosie Plunkett – Monday, July 2nd, 2018

CCR and CAR’s Official Review of the New 2018 Edition CNHC Reflexology Core Curriculum

*Featuring ‘The Reflexology ‘Swear Word’ – STIMULATION’

In April 2018 CAR were invited to be a member of the consultation group for the CNHC Reflexology Core Curriculum draft review.

The CAR Board responded concluding that the draft document successfully provided a framework for a minimum standard of reflexology knowledge, application and competency with the opportunity to embrace the variety of talents of the training providers. However, we felt compelled to highlight a particular concern relating to the potentially misleading suggestion that reflexology treatment could have a “stimulating” effect on the functioning of the human body.

Draft document ref page 4:
“2C CNH11 Provide Reflexology to Clients
Knowledge and Understanding: Students will need to know and understand:
Page 6 39. ..relationships between the reflex areas in feet and hands and the anatomical structures, physiological systems and emotional functioning of the human body in order to:
a) know the stimulating and sedating effects of treatment…”

Since 2006 the Core Curriculum for Reflexology in the UK has been the CCR’s preferred educational reference document (it was our own, Clive O’Hara, founder of CCR and CAR, renowned practitioner and teacher who worked tirelessly in his roles as Chair of the Education and Training Working Group of the Reflexology Forum and the editor of this valuable teaching and learning aid) as it is the only over-arching educational document for reflexology, based on National Occupational Standards, including methods of assessments and criteria for assessment of knowledge and competence. We would like to make reference here to page 11 of the 2006 Core Curriculum for Reflexology in the UK:
Chapter 4 Theory, Origin & Development/ Course Content/ Modern Day Development:
4.3.2 Zone Therapy into Reflexology/ Eunice Ingham
…students should be able to explain the three major transitions she established to build reflexology from Zone Therapy:
3. added the technique of ‘variable and alternating pressure’ to the previous Zone Therapy method of ‘constant direct pressure’

It is our understanding that the reference to “the ‘stimulating’ and ‘sedating’ effects of treatment” pertains to the perceived/intended outcome of a Zone Therapy treatment, not that of a Reflexology treatment. To further clarify our issue with the suggestive and misleading use of the word stimulation/stimulating/stimulatory in relation to Reflexology, here is a quote from Clive O’Hara who shared this valuable, still relevant, teaching point with ALL his students:

“One of the most troublesome aspects of reflexology in recent years has been that of contraindications. We have found that the most singular contributing factor to this controversy is:
*The Reflexology ‘Swear Word’ – STIMULATION

It is true to say that when employing reflexology working techniques to the surface of the skin of the feet, hands & ears, the reflex points are being STIMULATED.

However, the effect upon the part of the body to which the reflex point or area corresponds is not one of stimulation, it is NORMALISATION.

There are certain disorders where this seemingly minor fact becomes more important, if a patient/client has a blood pressure problem, when it’s low (hypotension),to stimulate reflexes would not be questioned. However, if there is high BP (hypertension), to stimulate reflexes could appear to be counterproductive. Some who do not fully understand reflexology theory often list high blood pressure as a contraindication to treatment.

Other conditions where misuse of ‘stimulate’, cause confusion are; hyper & hypothyroidism, epilepsy & pregnancy, from this too, it is easy to see how the myth grew that cancer can be spread by reflexology.”

This Board continued to advise the consultation group that this surely identifies and highlights the specific requirement for standardised language in the development of our profession, in order for our respectful collaborative communications to continually improve the standards of training in all complementary therapies.

To conclude our response the CAR Board extended their gratitude to the CNHC for the generous, inclusive nature of this consultation procedure and hoped that this contribution will be considered worthy of their attention.

Unfortunately the recently published CNHC Reflexology Core Curriculum in the UK does not reflect this viewpoint as the STIMULATORY terminology remains in the document.

We requested and received an explanation from CNHC:

“CNHC and our PSBs(Profession Specific Board) are very conscious that the National Occupational Standards for complementary therapies were developed and published by Skills for Health quite a few years ago…  Any changes to the actual wording of a National Occupational Standard (NOS), such as suggested in your attached response, could only be made by Skills for Health, following a review of the relevant NOS conducted by them.  This point was made by the Reflexology PSB in its advice to our Board, who accepted that advice…”

As a result of this outcome, we have decided it necessary to place this statement on our website to clarify our general acceptance of the document’s framework and training guide lines, however wanted to highlight and reiterate our disagreement with the use of the term ‘stimulating’ effect, when being referred to a reflexology treatment.



Following this consultation the final version was completed in June 2018 and has now been published on the website:

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