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A reflexologist is an alternative health practitioner who works to improve the health of a patient by massaging the proper corresponding points on his body. This usually involves working on the feet, hands, or ears in order to improve the flow of chi into a specific zone or organ of the body. Chi, also sometimes spelled ch'i or qi, is the traditional Chinese principle of energy flow or life force.
A reflexologist is trained in the field of reflexology, which teaches that illness is caused by blockage of chi. Every organ is thought to have a corresponding pressure point on the foot or hand. Reflexologists push, rub, and massage these points in order to release the blockage so chi can resume its normal flow and return health to the body.
Reflexologists have been practicing their art throughout the world since ancient times. Pictographs dating back to 2300 BC show what is thought to be reflexology depicted by a physician rubbing a person's foot. Reflexology may even be the foundation upon which acupressure and acupuncture was built.
Reflexologist jobs may entail working in an alternative health clinic or health food store. A reflexology treatment can be administered without a physician's order, which allows the reflexologist to work on patients in remote locations such as health fairs or malls. A reflexologist may work independently or under the supervision of a health clinic.
Reflexologist courses are usually offered by institutions which offer training in related alternative health occupations, such as massage therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and herbology. The length of instruction and cost varies widely among schools, as many countries do not have standardized instruction for reflexologists. Certification may not be required, but is often an option in order to prove minimal training has been completed.
Reflexology work may be satisfying for many practitioners, since this is an occupation which they feel helps people. This alternative treatment is often criticized because training and certification is not standardized in many countries. There is also concern that a patient may seek the services of a reflexologist instead seeking treatment from a qualified doctor when it is needed.
Reflexology is not a substitute for proper medical care but is an adjunct to it. Another benefit of this practice is that it may help to relax the body and reduce stress, which has many health benefits in itself. Reflexologist jobs are somewhat similar to massage therapy jobs in that it is a hands-on therapy, which helps to relax the patient while providing other health benefits at the same time. With reflexology, these health benefits are reputed to be restoring the flow of vital chi throughout the body.