Frequently Asked Questions about Reflexology

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is recognized worldwide by the public and various national health organizations as a distinct complementary practice within the holistic health field.

Reflexology is a method of manual techniques, such as thumb and finger-walking, hook and backup, and rotating-on-a-point applied to specific reflex areas involving reflex maps resembling the human body found predominantly on the feet and hands. The techniques applied stimulate the complex neural pathways linking body systems and supporting the body’s efforts to function optimally.

Many of our health problems can be linked to stress. A body under the influence of prolonged stress is less capable of organizing its defenses against illnesses and repairing damage caused by injury. Stress can be mentally, emotionally, physically, or environmentally induced. Reflexology is primarily a stress reduction technique. For more information, see our About Reflexology page.

Reference: Issel, Christine. (2010) What is Reflexology? Retrieved from

Is Reflexology a form of massage?

No. Conventionally people use the term massage very loosely to include other touch therapies that have nothing to do with standard massage techniques. Reflexology has its own history, theories, vocabulary, research, education, techniques, and national certification separate from any other manual therapy. It is non-invasive and requires only the removal of shoes and socks.

What are the legalities of practicing Reflexology in California?

California does not currently require state certification or licensure of reflexologists. Each city or county decides on their own business license requirements. However, to practice Reflexology, the person should have completed their training with a school and, ideally, have obtained their national certification. Some locations may require certification from the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) which can be problematic. Please refer to the next questions. If you experience a problem contact RAC for assistance. Also see our Education page and the American Reflexology Certification Board website for more information. Be sure to read our Legislation page too.

What does the California Massage Therapy Council do?

California Massage Therapy Council’s mission is to protect the public by certifying massage professionals in California that meet the requirements in the law, and approving massage programs that meet the minimum standards for training and curriculum. Specifically, CAMTC is required by California Business and Professions Code section 4600 et. seq. to: Create and implement a voluntary certification program for the massage therapy profession that will enable consumers to easily identify credible Certified Massage Therapists (CMTs).

Does any city require that you be a CMT (Certified Massage Therapist) to practice reflexology only?

Everything depends on the local ordinance either at the city or county level depending on who has jurisdiction. If you are not certified, your city or county has the right to regulate you as they like. If the definition of massage in the municipal or county code is interpreted by your city or county to include your work, they can require a massage permit or certification. A reflexologist must apply for a business license at the very least. In all likelihood the person will be told s/he must be licensed under massage and meet those qualifications. When applying, the person should take the RAC brochure and their certificate of education to show they are not going to practice massage and ask for an exemption since the CAMTC (California Massage Therapy Council has no provisions for certifying reflexologists) and request a general business license instead. Depending on the response the person can ask for a supervisor and restate everything. The RAC member could also go prepared with the pages on the state medical code stating the consumers' right to service and what the practitioner must provide to stay within the code and the sheet on CA cities that exempt reflexology. The next step is to notify RAC's Board, giving us the name and contact information of the person they spoke to so that RAC can write a letter and in turn contact RAA and ARCB to do likewise.

What is the difference between a license and a certificate?

A “license” is a document issued by the state and is mandatory for the individual to obtain before they can work in their profession in the state. The State of California does not license the massage profession. The California Massage Therapy Council, a private nonprofit corporation, issues voluntary certifications to massage professionals that meet the requirements in the law. Certification is voluntary, and CAMTC certification is not required by state law in order for a massage professional to practice their profession in the state, though many massage professionals find CAMTC certification useful. CAMTC certification is the only credential for massage professionals that is recognized by state law. The California Business and Professions Code section 4606 makes it an unfair business practice for anyone not certified by CAMTC to use the titles: Licensed, Certified, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Massage Practitioner, CMT, or CMP.

Other than normal business/tax licenses, etc. would Reflexologists require any special licensing/certification by the city, county or state?

Although each city/county decides on their own business license requirements as well as the licensing of practitioners, the location of the business would also need to honor local zoning laws/ordinances. Consult with your city and/or county. Reflexologists practicing reflexology as a business, are likely required to apply for a general business license. Please note that Reflexologists should all be completely trained and schooled in Reflexology and in order to join RAC as a professional member, we do require that a person complete 300 hours of Reflexology training, 60% of which must be taken in a live classroom setting with an instructor. If you are seeking national certification, see the American Reflexology Certification Board.

I am moving to California from another country. Can you tell me what the possibilities are to work as a Reflexologist in California?

California does not require a state license for Reflexologists. Each city decides on their own business license requirements. If your visa does not restrict you from working, you are free to develop your own Reflexology practice. RAC does not assist members in finding employment as a Reflexologist, although we do provide a website listing to help the public find a Reflexologist. Joining RAC does not give you a "certification" allowing you to practice Reflexology; we provide a "certificate" to hang on your wall, as proof of membership and recognition of your profession.

Is it possible to start my own practice? Or can I work in a Spa-center?

The answer is yes to both questions. However, success as a Reflexologist will depend on your entrepreneurial skills and determination to succeed. Networking with other Reflexologists through RAC will also help you be successful.

Realistically it will take several years to make Reflexology your primary source of income. In California you are free to build your own practice or to work for someone else, usually as an independent contractor. For instance this could be at a spa, beauty salon, complementary health office with therapists of other disciplines, chiropractic office, etc.

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