Diagnosis with Reflexology

To diagnose or not to diagnose? When asked recently , members of the reflexology community voiced concerns ranging from "Is it right?" to "Do we want to be members of a profession that diagnoses?"

The question was raised when a research protocol was proposed that included testing reflexology for diagnosis. Not withstanding the accuracy of reflexological observations, the reflexologists we talked to felt ill at ease when considering the possibility of diagnosis with reflexology. For legal reasons, reflexologists are neither trained nor encouraged to diagnose. Their attitude approached the level of discussing a taboo, an activity blanketly rejected within the community.

Several issues emerged during conversations &emdash; the potential impact of diagnosis on the professional practice and the appropriateness of using reflexology to diagnose.

Professional choices

As alternative health practices are increasingly accepted, a picture is materializing of how they will be utilized within conventional medicine. And, a picture is emerging of how alternative health practitioners want their practices to be used. Reflexologists, apparently, want reflexology to be used appropriately.

The issues include:

° As a profession, are we data gatherers, assessing the foot reflexologically? Is reflexological assessment appropriate for diagnosis? (See below.)

° The reflexology community is not experienced in diagnosis. There is currently no data base in reflexology to correlate the frequency of stress cues to the frequency of disease. A mathematical analysis of such information is possible but it would be better to wait for an opportunity to amass data before attempting work with diagnosis.

° Providing diagnosis alters the practitioner - client relationship.

° A profession that is involved in diagnosis is a profession with higher costs of services and liability insurance as well as increased educational requirements.

° Why should this taboo be changed? It has been a method of survival for reflexologists throughout the years. It has served to keep them from the danger of arrest practicing medicine without a license.

Theoretical model

Is diagnosis consistent with theories about how reflexology works?

Within the Selye stress model, for example, gradations of alarm, adaptation, and exhaustion mark the progress of stress. Exactly where along the stress continuum does disease occur? This is the problem for the reflexologist when asked to diagnose. He or she gauges the foot's stress cues with the goal of charting a course for technique application. What may be an appropriate reflexological assessment may not be an accurate diagnosis.

Some argue that medical diagnosis with reflexology will emerge with a system of analysis of stress cues creating a diagnostic system. Following formal studies including data collection, statistical analysis, and peer review, the reflexologist of the future may provide to doctors information leading to diagnosis. In addition, reflexological information could lead to preventative actions by the doctor.