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Massage Today
August, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 08

We Get Letters & E-Mail

A Few Words About Licensing...

By Editorial Staff

Dear Editor:

I wanted to respond about your article about licensing. (Editor's note: Please see Cliff Korn's article, "Should We or Shouldn't We?" in the June 2001 issue, available on line at

As a certified reflexologist through two schools (one in the U.S., the other in Canada, totaling 700 hours), I taught for the International Institute of Reflexology (IIR) in St. Petersburg, Florida for seven years. In August 1995, I chose to relocate to the Northwest. I was told that since there was no licensing in Oregon, I would not have problems establishing a business practice and teaching there. However, in October 1995, the Oregon Massage Board informed me that I was practicing without a license and faced a $1,000 fine if I did not cease. Knowing I was in the public eye, I chose to get my massage license (340 hours, at that time) so I could continue practicing and teaching reflexology.

Looking back, I am glad I bit the bullet and got the massage license. It has protected me legally, and aided in legitimizing my reflexology work. I am glad that Oregon raised its massage education standard to 500 hours. I still think too many massage therapists are being "cranked" out of massage schools. I wasn't comfortable with the training of over half the students I attended school with; I would never consider going to them as a client. There is not enough emphasis on business ethics, hygiene and professionalism. I want to be seen as a professional -- not put in a box with those who dress as if they just got out of bed. The consumer doesn't know the difference over the phone.

What truly bothers me is the number of massage therapists claiming to be reflexologists, despite only 4-6 hours of formal reflexology training! There is much more to reflexology than rubbing feet. I do not do a foot massage when people ask for reflexology. There truly is a difference. I have over 1,000 hours of reflexology training, and I am nationally certified. How would you feel about being lumped in with those who got a one-weekend course? There are also many people teaching reflexology who aren't even certified in reflexology, which waters down the true science and art of this bodywork technique.

At the massage school I attended in Portland, I questioned the reflexology instructor's training; I was told he had taken a weekend course with IIR, and had talked to other people about it. In effect, this person is teaching a technique form not taught by IIR and not sanctioned by any other reflexology school. He is still teaching today, because there are no regulations for teachers.

This is not just an issue of licensing practitioners. It is also an issue of teacher accreditation. Everyone looks for a loophole to get CEUs, or to learn a new technique they can flaunt on their business cards.

Kristi Tanner
Medford, Oregon


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