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What's Wrong With Reflexology Regulation in New York

Kunz, Kevin and Kunz, Barbara, Reflexions, Vol. 19., No. 1, Winter/Spring, 1998, p. 1

Only massage therapy licensed individuals in the state of New York may advertise reflexology services. This recent ruling by the New York state massage board raises issues about the regulation of professions in that state.

Issue one: Is this sloppy academic work? In the state of New York thirty-eight professions, including massage, are regulated by scholars at the State University of New York. For many years, the profession of reflexology has been regulated by standards that are not acceptable in academic circles. Professionalism is a distinctive area of study with specific thoughts about professions. Any profession, for example, has basis in definition. A state regulated profession has basis in a scope of practice. None exists in New York state regulation of reflexology.

Issue two: Is the consumer in New York protected from harm by a state-mandated professional providing reflexology services? One wonders if the consumers in New York state are aware that their government allows advertising of reflexology services only by individuals who aren't necessarily trained or experienced or practicing legally or ethically. (See page 5.) When licensing a professional, a state certifies the competence of that individual. Since the state maintains no educational requirements for the reflexologist, it is stepping outside the normal procedures for regulating a profession.

Issue three: Is massage regulation of reflexology in the state of New York an example of cultural cleansing for bureau-cratic convenience? Consumers in New York City will tell that it's not possible to receive traditional reflexology services -- the state law has been enforced in the City for a number of years and traditional practitioners have been put out of business.

New York was the first to establish a "touching" massage law encompassing all who touch another for pay to regulate massage and to discourage prostitution. The attempt to do both has given free rein to a state bureaucracy to annihilate a profession of reflexology-only practitioners who follow an idea.

(An idea never really dies though. An Egyptian once told us that we could probably find a practitioner of the ancient foot work in an outlying village somewhere. Similarly, traditional reflexologists practice outside of New York City. The idea will continue but these experienced reflexologists will not receive income from sources such as insurance payments.)

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ŠKunz and Kunz 2003
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