The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC)

CNHC is the UK regulator for complementary healthcare practitioners.

Its key function is to enhance public protection by setting standards for registration with CNHC.


The CNHC ‘quality mark' is being recognised as the hallmark of quality for the sector. This means that the general public, and those who commission the services of complementary healthcare practitioners, will be able to choose with confidence by looking for the CNHC quality mark.

Heather Hull is a registered member of the CNHC

The Department of Health in November 2009 stated:

"CNHC is the only voluntary regulatory body for complementary healthcare which has official government backing. No other organisation has the same exacting criteria or focus on safety and quality."

What is Reflexology?

  • Reflexology deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which are believed to correspond to all organs and parts of the body.
  • It is a unique method, using the thumb and fingers, usually performed on the feet but in some cases also on the hands and ears.
  • A practitioner will work the reflex areas, which may help to relieve stress and tension; improve the blood supply to all areas of the body and promote the correct functioning of nerve impulses.

Reflexology aims to treat the imbalances of each individual and to alleviate and improve symptoms. It does not however diagnose a specific medical problem.

A Reflexology Session

  • When first visiting a reflexology practitioner, a detailed medical history will be taken.
  • The treatment itself is usually performed in a comfortable chair/couch in a safe environment.
  • If it is to be performed on the feet, the client/patient will be asked to remove footwear and socks prior to treatment.
  • The practitioner may initially examine the feet before commencing with the precise reflexology movements.
  • The particular type of movements involved requires the application of an appropriate pressure using the thumb and fingers.
  • The number of treatment sessions required will vary depending on the condition being treated, but will always be discussed prior to any treatment plan.

How Reflexology May Help

  • Reflexology can be a wonderfully relaxing experience where you can take time out from everyday pressures.
  • The therapist’s expert touch will help you relax which can help improve mood, aid sleep and relieve tension.
  • The result is an overall sense of wellbeing.
  • Numerous disorders may benefit from reflexology depending on the specialism and expertise of your practitioner.
  • Examples include pain, headaches, sinus problems, hormonal imbalances, back problems, stress and tension.

Choosing a practitioner

  • It is important to choose a qualified practitioner who has undertaken all the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of reflexology.
    • The Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), which is supported by the Department of Health, can help when choosing a practitioner that meets the national standards of practice in reflexology.
  • It has established a voluntary register for complementary healthcare practitioners who all meet the required levels of competence and practice.
    • Further information and registered practitioners can be found on the CNHC website

Professional advantages of CNHC registration

By registering with CNHC practitioners demonstrate to the general public and to other healthcare providers that they conform to national standards of practice in their work.

Confirmation of quality

  • Registration with CNHC is seen as the ‘gold standard’ for complementary healthcare practitioners
    • Registration with CNHC provides practitioners with a nationally recognised quality mark for their work
  • Members of the public are able to confirm that a complementary healthcare professional has met CNHC’s standards for safe practice


  • Other healthcare professionals use CNHC registration as a pre-requisite when considering referrals to a complementary healthcare professional. e.g. for NHS work

Visible standards

  • Practitioners on the CNHC Register are able to display the CNHC quality mark, which becomes the general public’s guide to identifying best practice in complementary healthcare provision.
  • The quality mark can be displayed in their practice and in their publicity materials such as leaflets and websites
    • Members of the public are able to confirm a practitioner’s registration via the CNHC website, providing a quick and easy route for them to confirm that standards have been met

Employment advantages

  • An increasing range of bodies, such as other regulators, The Department of Health, employers and insurers are working with CNHC to use the quality mark as an independent validation of standards

Private Health Cash Plans which cover Reflexology given by CNHC Registered Practitioners

  • Westfield Health recognises CNHC registration for reimbursement on a limited number of corporate paid plans provided by specific employers for Reflexology. Clients who wish to seek reimbursement through Westfield Health will need to check that their employer‘s plan covers Reflexology.
    Health Shield will reimburse for CNHC registered Reflexology on specified corporate paid plans. Clients who wish to seek reimbursement through Health Shield will need to check that their employer‘s plan covers the treatment concerned.
    Simplyhealth recognises Reflexology provided by CNHC registrants on a number of Company Paid Cashplans. Registrants should ensure clients check whether reflexology is included on their plan before proceeding. Clients can check their policy Terms and Conditions and Benefit Cover leaflets. If they are still uncertain they could call Simplyhealth’s Customer Services team on 0370 908 3481 or through the Simplyhealth Live Chat service on their website
    Bupa has stated that in time it will be willing to consider reimbursement for practitioners registered on Accredited Registers (ARs) such as the CNHC register. However to date it has not made this commitment. The Professional Standards Authority included the following comment from Bupa in a recent bulletin: ‘Given the value we place on quality assurance of providers, Bupa supports the work of the Professional Standards Authority to accredit registers of health and social care practitioners. In due course, once the scheme has taken off, we may wish to review Bupa recognition criteria to reflect membership of an accredited register.’
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Tel: 0114 289 1342
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