This article has been published in the Reflexology Association of Australia's publication Footprints. Download the full Footprints publication below or read on for the article.
In October 2018 the federal Department of Health released a consultation (draft) paper outlining the National Women’s Health Strategy for 2020–2030.
Its stated aim is to “build on … existing work and is designed to provide a gender-specific approach to activities already underway and to guide the development of new and innovative policies and approaches aimed at addressing the specific health needs of women and girls in Australia”.
Its overarching plan is to bring together a wide range of existing and formulated policies and provide a cohesive national strategy approach across all government health sectors.
The five main policy objectives are:
1. Gender equity
2. Health equity between women
3. A life course approach to health
4. A focus on prevention
5. A strong and emerging evidence base.
These policy objectives are focused on five priority health areas:
1. Mental health and wellbeing
2. Chronic disease and preventative health
3. Sexual and reproductive health
4. Conditions where women are overrepresented
5. Healthy ageing.
From the paper: “These priority areas are inter-related and the Strategy recognises the intersections between them. For example, mental health is considered a chronic condition, but given its prevalence as a health issue both among priority populations and also across the life course of women and girls in Australia, it receives specific attention as a separate priority area. Similarly, healthy ageing can only be achieved if health improvements are made in all of the priority areas.”
When reflecting on the overview of the National Women’s Health Strategy, I noticed that the five areas of priority represent a directly relatable experience for reflexologists in a clinic setting.
Women’s health, as suggested in the strategy, is best applied with a lifelong approach in mind. I suspect all of us as therapists see our clients come from a broad age range, with many varied ailments and health issues both large and small. Reflexology has the ability to be an effective standalone therapy across many health disorders, whilst also being versatile enough to be an effective supplementary therapy when applied in conjunction with other therapies and/or general and specialist practice medicine.
This article will consider two ways reflexologists can both deliver effective health care for women and girls, and use this approach to market, promote and add value to their business. A win-win for all!
1. Make sure your community knows how reflexology, and specifically your reflexology sessions, advance women’s health outcomes.
Building awareness can cover multiple areas including: in your clinic with each client, publishing articles and health result stories on your own website or as a guest article on someone else’s, or posting on social media platforms. With any communication, it’s the delivery of a strong, consistent message that breaks through the noise and helps people understand the benefits they need to know.
Promoting your message in-clinic
In my clinic, each client leaves with a personalised information pack after their first session. This pack includes an issue-specific (or generalised) RAoA brochure, targeted branded leaflets (e.g. Maternity Reflexology), clinic health and safety information, a business card and a printed copy of my current quarterly newsletter for clients. These act to continue the client connection beyond the clinic and provide information for the client to share within their communities, with a tangible link back to your business. This is a simple yet important promotional opportunity that strengthens your connection to existing clients, highlights the benefits of your therapy and solidifies your business brand.
Promoting your message online
Story telling is a powerful way to get any message across and there are two main ways we can use this to help promote the effectiveness of reflexology. Firstly, we as therapists can write, talk, and post about the benefits of our therapy, using research or our own clinic examples. Secondly, we can ask our clients to talk or write about their experience themselves, either in the form of a review or feedback.
Social media is a great free platform for you to begin sharing information. You can share articles from respected information sources, but be sure to add your own commentary, linking back to the effectiveness of your reflexology clinic. Remember, social media is a two-way street. If you start publishing more posts, be prepared to interact with followers who might comment on your posts or message your page. Use this as an opportunity for further information sharing and potential clinic bookings!
Your own website is another great place for sharing information. Your own articles should be based on your clinic experiences, and may include case studies, therapy techniques you use in your sessions, or simply explaining in your own way how reflexology helps your clients. Publishing your own articles helps with both promoting the message of reflexology as an effective therapy, whilst also positioning you as an expert in your field. You can also consider applying for your article(s) to be published in an Association publication such as FootPrints.
The last online method I’ll highlight is client reviews and feedback. People trust what other people say, and often use reviews as a factor in the decision to book an appointment with you, but keep in mind that you can’t control what these reviews say. The only influence you have is to provide an incredible clinic experience for each and every client. For more information on how to improve your online presence, have a read of Working on your business: Improving your online presence to gain new clients.
2. Introduce reflexology session evaluations, making sure to cover specific women’s health disorders and symptom management.
This point ties in with seeking client feedback, but in a more structured way, with the aim of gathering quality data rather than simply objective feedback. The strategy document calls to ‘strengthen and diversify research and data collection across identified health priorities for women and girls.’ Some of the strategy guidelines have flexibility for capturing and analysing data.
Perhaps there is an opportunity for the strategy guidelines to be adapted to suit reflexology studies under guidelines through the RAoA Research Committee. Because these areas of priority are those I see as core to our therapy capability and effectiveness, I would like to propose that the RAoA could produce standardised feedback form(s) and procedure(s) that would allow therapists to begin to capture data in clinic and send back to the Association to collate. The findings could then be distributed back to therapists and the wider community, further enhancing the available information that highlights reflexology’s efficacy.
It is only by strengthening our collective knowledge through shared experiences, documenting these and formulating transferable information can we be seen as a progressive and strong therapy profession. Let’s get a conversation going within the RAoA membership, both in local branches and nationally, to develop a cohesive and collaborative approach linking ourselves to this national strategy.
An Australian health sector with reflexology as a contributor will reward reflexology therapists with growth in awareness, more clients in clinic, better health outcomes for women and girls, and more clinical experiences for sharing.