Hagar Basis: founder of the Reflexology Academy in London, international teacher of reflexology and practicing reflexologist.
Hagar has treated many hundreds of patients presenting with a broad spectrum of conditions. Her own interest is in treating gynecological disorders, specifically an underactive thyroid gland and associated hormonal imbalances such as infertility, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Hagar has treated a significant number of women with reflexology during their pregnancies, including couples who sought help while undergoing IVF.
The Greek magazine for reflexologists Harmonization conducted an interview with her in March-April 2014. The interview was conducted by Fotis Skourletis.
Can you tell us something about yourself and reflexology.
My reflexology story goes back to 1988 when I had just finished studying Fine Art Painting in London. I was inspired to take a reflexology course when I read a book on reflexology by Kevin Kunz and then applied it to family and friends. I have always had a great interest and fascination with complementary medicine, from the esoteric to naturopathic healing.
A good friend of mine was also interested in learning more about reflexology and had heard of Tony Porter, a reflexologist. Tony was at the time the Director and Lecturer for the International Institute of Reflexology (IIR) in London, one of the few schools teaching reflexology training in Britain at the time. I enrolled in the course and completed it in 1989. This was an important turning point in my life, from that moment on I haven't looked back. In 1996 I was offered a position as course director and teacher for the IIR. I subsequently managed and taught their certified course according to the original Ingham method for 16 years. In 2012 I founded the Reflexology Academy, a school that offers professional training for reflexologists and further education opportunities.
How did you come into contact with Tony Porter, the man who developed ART (Advanced Reflexology Techniques)?
My first introduction to Tony was as his student, even though I was one of 60 in his class! But the next development saw me have a personal introduction to Tony Porter which created a strong partnership. My father had suffered from chronic back pain for years. My recommendation made him a patient of Tony's. The treatments were very successful and helped significantly in reducing the pain. Just after graduating from IIR, my father took me to one of his reflexology treatments. As a test, he wanted me to work on Tony's feet to determine if I was good enough to handle him. The idea behind it was that if I 'succeeded' I would take over his treatments that helped him so much. This turned out to work out very well for me. Not only did I pass the test, Tony also offered me an opportunity to assist him with his reflexology seminars.
Tony's influence and guidance have helped me to forge my own path in reflexology and over the past 29 years we have become close friends.
What is the history of ART?
As a masseur, Tony became interested in trigger points in the feet in 1972. At that time there was not as much information available as there is now, so he applied his own instinctive way to working on these points in patients. He achieved excellent results with this. During that same time, he was introduced by chance to Eunice Ingham's classic work, “Stories the feet can tell.” This changed his life.
The book eventually led Tony to meet Eunice Ingham's cousin, Dwight Byers (also the director of the International Institute of Reflexology in the US). Tony learned the Ingham Method while traveling throughout the US and later in other parts of the world, teaching reflexology with Dwight. The original techniques that emerged from experimenting with the trigger points were refined. ART developed as Tony worked on approximately 1,000 pairs of feet, meeting and exchanging techniques with reflexologists around the world.
What are the main differences between ART techniques and other reflexology techniques?
ART (advanced reflexology techniques) is a follow-up development to the original concept. The original concept is the walking thumb (ebb and flow) technique and the 'walking' with the fingers that is taught at most reflexology schools. ART teaches students effective clinical reflexology, techniques that can be easily integrated as an advanced complementary approach.
There is a big difference between the generally accepted view of reflexology as a mild, relaxing, wellness therapy and the correct, authoritative, professional, therapeutically effective form of ART.
ART students are taught to continuously work alternately between the two feet, not to work on the feet separately, but consecutively and according to a system. Many different forms of contact are taught in ART, using thumbs, fingers and the medial part of the knuckles. The pressure used is determined by the client and the condition of the reflex zone, which in turn influences the technique used. ART teaches how to detect, interpret and treat 'disturbed' reflex zones in the feet. Many ways of applicability are learned, the great thing about ART is that it is continuously developing. A technique is not a possession, every reflexologist takes what she needs from ART and it grows with her in practice.
What are the pros or cons of ART for reflexologists?
ART requires less time for clinical reflexology treatments, which is an advantage, also for the client. The ART reflexologist is not static; a height-adjustable chair on wheels is needed to work from the side and work low or high. Correct posture is very important for the health of the reflexologist and the client. The techniques are learned in such a way that the thumbs and fingers have the right support, allowing the reflexologist to have a long and productive career.
Can you tell us a little about reflexology in the UK?
Reflexology has grown in popularity, although it is still generally seen as a 'spa' relaxation massage and not as a major health development. But reflexology is growing positively with voluntary services in the medical circuit in Great Britain such as the NHS (National Health Service), hospitals and hospices.
Some NHS funds cover reflexology for certain conditions, but currently access to these treatments is limited and most patients pay for treatments out of their own pockets.
What about the study requirements in Great Britain?
In Great Britain, reflexology is not regulated. It is possible to train for as little as 16 hours and call yourself a reflexologist up to as many as 150 hours of training (depending on the school's qualifications), insure yourself and legally start a practice in reflexology! It is an uneven playing field with the result that there are many reflexologists who practice the profession within different levels of skills and competence. Level 5 is the highest level achievable in Great Britain, requiring a minimum of 150 hours spread over 12 months. A minimum of one hundred treatments if experience is required. Level 5 is the only course in the UK that is fully aligned with basic reflexology.
Hagar will teach her two-day course on reflexology for women's health in The Hague in February and November 2018. This also shows many of the specific ART techniques. The course is accredited by the VNRT with 10A and 10B points and by the FAGT.