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9. Ethical Guidelines

Additional Guidelines

Before I provide a list of guidelines regarding the use of foot reading specifically within the context of a reflexology session, here is a reminder of the definitions and intentions of both Foot Reading and Visual Reflexology:

Foot Reading

Refers to making a visual assessment of the feet, which depending on each practitioner’s way of working and the client’s preferences, can be used:

1. Purely as a backdrop to deeper understanding and improved client treatment. 

2. And/or initiate further dialogue about their health and wellbeing.

3. Provide context for the session regarding a client’s state of mind, but in a way that stays within the reflexologist’s existing professional guidelines.

Visual Reflexology 

Refers to how we can provide a paradigm within which reflexologists can incorporate foot reading into a treatment session, as well as into their individual practices and the profession of reflexology as a whole.

Existing Guidelines

We should always follow existing professional guidelines for reflexologists whilst foot reading. But as they do not cover the ethical aspects of using foot reading in our practice, I thought it would be helpful to add some. (I also covered this in chapter 5. on Reading Different Energies.) They mainly cover how and when to give feedback on issues relating to emotional wellbeing that we see on the feet, as this seems to be the main area of contention. 

This was borne out from feedback on reflexology forums about members’ experiences whilst being on the receiving end of foot reading during a reflexology treatment when they were the client. Many of them felt the reflexologist had behaved unprofessionally, using foot reading to tell them about their emotional state and mental health when this had not been requested. And some had also been advised how to behave or given counselling by the reflexologist despite the fact they were not trained to do so. As a result, they had been put through a very negative experience and had a poor impression of foot reading.

Because emotional states can often be seen clearly from foot reading, it is easy to go beyond our professional boundaries. But it is important to remember that just as there is an explicit prohibition in our therapy of diagnosing physical health conditions, diagnosing a client’s emotional states and mental health is likewise prohibited. The following guidelines have been drawn up to help avoid these situations occurring.

Please Note: they are only guidelines, not rules anyone is bound by.

Ethical Guidelines

  • I will follow existing professional reflexology guidelines and always conduct myself honestly and ethically.
  • I will hold all client conversations regarding what I see on their feet with the utmost confidence.
  • I will bear in mind that not all reflexology clients may want feedback from foot reading, so I will request verbal permission before offering it. 
  • I acknowledge that it is not the client’s responsibility to agree with or validate anything that I read on their feet.
  • I will refrain from using foot reading in a diagnostic or prescriptive way for physical or mental health conditions.
  • I acknowledge that I do not have training in counselling, and I am aware that during foot reading, emotional reactions may occur that are outside my capabilities to deal with professionally, so I will consider when to refer to a suitably qualified person.
  • Therefore, I will keep a list of mental wellbeing professionals, such as bereavement counsellors, life coaches, etc., to refer clients when necessary.
  • I acknowledge my ability to decline a client’s request for further information should I feel that it would compromise the integrity of the session by leading me to diagnose, prescribe or give counselling. 
  • I will establish proper self-care practices to ensure I am of sound mind and body before, during, and after a session.
  • I will endeavour to have regular foot reading myself for both my own wellbeing and to experience it from a client’s perspective.
  • I will educate those clients with whom I share foot reading assessments on foot reading theory as I understand it.
  • I will respect other practitioners who may approach this work from a similar or different understanding of the practice.

Thank you to Sam Belyea, a fellow teacher of foot reading who co-wrote these with me. 

I will now move on from the theory chapters of ‘Why Foot Read?’ to the book’s second part, which covers the practical chapters of ‘How to Foot Read?’ 

This is the Q&A section, so please go ahead and comment on this chapter if you wish. If you want to ask me something privately so only I can view it, make a note and I will not make it visible to other members. 

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to notify you when your comment has been approved, so you will need to check, but I aim to approve them all within 48 hours. You can also scroll down to go directly to the next chapter.

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