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Reflexologists Win May
The Iowa Department of Public Health has recommended the exemption
of reflexology from the state's massage-therapy law. This decision
came after months of study that resulted from a petition by reflexologists
in protest to a decision by the state massage board to include their
modality under the law (See Iowa Reflexologists
Granted One-Year Exemption).
The risk of harm from the practice
of massage therapy and massage-therapy-related modalities is relatively
low. In fact, the Iowa Board of Examiners for Massage Therapy has
never had a complaint filed," stated the department's summary
finding. "Many consumers feel they have the right to choose
the type of health care they wish to pursue. Ultimately, the responsibility
is on the consumers to make such decisions for themselves."
An act of exemption was submitted to
the Iowa legislature in February. The bill also called for the exemption
of Feldenkrais, Trager and mind-body centering practitioners, and
other unspecified touch and movement therapists. It also recommended
the exemption of energy therapists.
Granted One-Year Exemption November
Hard work and support from their greatest fans - their clients -
won Iowa reflexologists a one-year stay from an administrative ruling that
would have required their compliance with the state's massage-therapy
law. Now they have to prove that they are not practicing massage.
"We have jumped through a lot of hoops, and we still
have a few more hoops to go," said Patricia Barrance, vice
president of the Reflexology Association of Iowa.
The group formed to fight a 2000 ruling by the Iowa Board of Massage
Therapy Examiners that reflexology falls under the scope of practice
of massage therapy, and that reflexologists need a massage license
to continue to practice.
Barrance said that she learned of the ruling a year after it was
passed, and just one year before it would become law. "Most
of us are older women in a second career and don't want to spend
$10,000 to get [massage training] that [we] aren't going to use,"
Reflexologists typically receive 200 hours of education in how to
affect the nervous system through manipulation of the reflex zones
on the hands and feet of clothed clients. The state's massage law
requires 500 hours of education.
Barrance said she immediately contacted her state representative,
who told her that legislation was the only means of getting the
ruling reversed. She and 38 other reflexologists then formed the
association, and began asking their clients to contact their representatives
and tell them how reflexology helped them. Meanwhile, the group
set out to educate legislators about reflexology and fair bodywork
legislation. Barrance said they relied heavily upon the American
Massage Therapy Association's new model law, which names reflexology
among the modalities recommended for exemption.
In July reflexologists and other "unlicensed persons practicing
modalities related to massage therapy" were granted a one-year
exemption from the state massage law, during which a department-of-health
study committee will investigate whether to recommend a permanent
"Reflexologists will be subject to oversight by the same board
of massage as of July 2004, unless something happens in the next
legislative session," explained Kevin Teal, communications
director for the Iowa Department of Public Health. The department
is expected to make its recommendation to the General Assembly in
is the impact of state regulation?
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