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Validation and Reflexology in Canada

I had the privilege of speaking at the RAC International Reflexology Conference in Ottawa, Canada in May where I was invited to share my insights on working with individuals living with cognitive impairment. The experience was enlightening as I witnessed the remarkable capacity of reflexology therapists to swiftly grasp and incorporate Validation into their practice.


With over 25 years of experience as a reflexology therapist, I developed Hands-on Dementia—a simplified method that utilizes hand reflexology points to establish deeper connections with individuals living with dementia.  Participants in workshops involving senior community staff, paid caregivers and families report positive benefits of giving a few minutes a day of Hands-on Dementia.  These benefits include improved sleep, reduction in agitation, increased participation in activities, relaxed muscles (especially for those with Parkinson’s), smoother transition to senior living facility, and enhanced relationship between the caregiver and the individual with cognitive changes.

Our work teaching live-in caregivers Hands-on Dementia was presented at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference (ADI2022) last year. 

The Reason Behind My Nervousness

Despite having presented and conducted workshops worldwide, I experienced an unprecedented level of nervousness at this particular conference.  It marked my first occasion of presenting to an audience largely unfamiliar with working with individuals living with cognitive impairment.  I harbored concerns that many attendees held preconceived notions and stigmas surrounding people living with dementia.

The objectives of my presentation were twofold:

  1. To shift mindsets and foster an understanding among the audience that individuals with cognitive changes are fundamentally like any of us, many lead fulfilling lives, and as a society, we can extend their independence and prevent withdrawal through our collective efforts.
  2. To emphasize the immense impact that reflexology therapists can have on the lives of individuals living with cognitive impairment.

The significance of this presentation contributed to my heightened nervousness.  The success of effectively conveying my messages held the promise of mobilizing numerous reflexology therapists worldwide to support individuals experiencing cognitive changes.

Fortunately, I managed to effectively communicate my ideas, resulting in not only positive feedback but also a substantial number of reflexology therapists reaching out to me for further guidance.  This enthusiastic response has prompted us to organize a Hands-on Dementia workshop specifically tailored for reflexology therapists in Vancouver this summer.


Validation at the Post-Conference Workshop

Following the conference, I conducted a one-day workshop exclusively for reflexology therapists.  Since all participants were already well-versed in reflexology, I bypassed the reflexology basics typically covered in sessions with dementia professionals.  This allowed more time to delve into the remarkable work of Naomi Feil, her Validation Method, and the teaching and practice of several Validation techniques.

To my astonishment, the participants grasped the power of Validation with exceptional speed.  There were moments during the workshop when individuals were moved to tears upon realizing the profound significance of expressing emotions and establishing heartfelt connections.

The participants readily embraced centering techniques and effortlessly tapped into each other’s emotions during exercises focused on observation and calibration.  Their level of comprehension amazed me.

The feedback received was overwhelmingly positive, with one participant reaching out to express her eagerness to learn more.  She not only purchased and devoured Naomi Feil’s first book but also intended to order the second one.  Others shared their enthusiasm for incorporating both hand reflexology points and Validation techniques into their work with older adults.  I couldn’t be more delighted with their enthusiastic response and proactive implementation of their newfound knowledge!


The Natural Connection of Reflexology Therapists

Reflexology Therapists possess a natural inclination for connecting with their clients on an energetic or spiritual level, which is why Validation resonates so effortlessly with them.

During a reflexology session, we, as Reflexology Therapists, keenly observe our clients, gauging their emotions and well-being. We create a safe space for them to express themselves, recognizing that reflexology often surfaces underlying issues affecting their health. Moreover, most reflexologists take a moment to center themselves and establish a profound connection with their clients before commencing a session.

Allow me to share a remarkable incident that transpired before my conference presentation, demonstrating the perceptive intuition of Reflexology Therapists:

Though I may not possess the acting prowess of Naomi Feil, I can conceal my nerves quite well.  However, at this conference, reflexology therapists approached me during the break preceding my presentation, offering reflexology or energy work to help me find calm.  They saw beyond my smiling facade and sensed the stress I was experiencing. Never before had I encountered such perceptive empathy from attendees at any other workshop or presentation.

The momentum is building, and my hope is that reflexology therapists will bring a meaningful difference in the lives of many living with cognitive decline.  While we typically focus on offering Validation to professionals, caregivers, and family members, it is worth considering the potential of supporting Reflexology Therapists, and others in the field of complementary medicine.  By doing so we can pave the way for improved well-being for those affected by cognitive changes.

Oran Aviv is a Certified Validation Teacher in Israel and the creator of Hands-on Dementia.   You can learn more at