In 2001, seeking a better work life balance and a more autonomous and holistic way of working, I left behind a 20-year career in science and nursing. Having completed my reflexology training with the Scottish School of Reflexology, I took a leap of faith and opened my practice – Footpath Therapies, the rest as they say, is history. Over the intervening years I have continued to expand and develop my reflexology knowledge, specialising in this particular therapy as well as adding to my skills set by training in a variety of touch-based therapies; Swedish massage, Indian Head massage, hot stones therapy, acupressure and Reiki. However, since 2008 my focus has turned towards studying and understanding more about energy medicine, and the theories and philosophy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This has led to a growing personal and professional interest in the many health benefits of the ancient Chinese health practices of Taiji (Tai Chi) and Qigong.
My working week is divided between seeing private clients at Footpath Therapies and providing complementary therapies for NHS Fife, based in one of their hospice wards. It is a privilege to work alongside the palliative care team and have the opportunity to see the real benefits for patients of integrating clinical treatment and complementary therapies, bringing together Western medicine and Eastern philosophies.
As a therapist I choose to work holistically, stepping back from the diagnostic and prescriptive focus that many therapies have developed in recent years, my aim being to complement and support the natural healing abilities of the human body, using the energy exchange that occurs via gentle touch. It is not my intention to provide an alternative to allopathic medicine, but instead to provide a service that fills the gap that I perceive as being present in modern Western medicine. Coming from a clinical background I believe that in the West we are very fortunate to have access to some remarkable medical and surgical knowledge and skills, however it is increasingly apparent that for many people our current health care system is failing. Western medicine, partly due to its focus on the disease process and symptoms, and additionally through lack of time and resources, frequently fails to address the “human” aspect of illness, the wellbeing of the individual, problems that simply cannot be resolved by swallowing medication. With increasing numbers of people suffering from stress related ailments – both physical and psychological, complementary / holistic therapies are ideally placed to offer interventions that have the capacity to support and help the individual manage and cope with the stresses and strains of life, thereby improving health and wellbeing, reducing the need for medical intervention.
Inspired by the benefits of Qigong for my own health and wellbeing, it seemed a natural progression for me as a therapist, specialising in touch-based therapies, to explore the possibilities of transferring the theoretical basis of Qigong practice, the meditative qualities, gentle fluid movements and mental focus into an accessible touch therapy technique. Having a special interest in reflexology and its benefits, when researching the theories of TCM and Qigong I began to see the potential of using the feet as a gateway in to the extensive energy network of the human body, and most importantly providing access to the deepest channels of the network, the Eight Extraordinary Vessels. Over several years, and with a lot of research and work, the technique has evolved into a simple, gentle and effective therapy that can be used as a complete stand-alone modality or blended with any reflexology or bodywork technique. This technique I now call; Zu Qigong. Interestingly, the development of Zu Qigong has also shed some light on the theoretical basis of reflexology.
Following publication of my book “Zu Qigong – Foot Energy Work” in 2014, I began sharing the Zu Qigong technique with other therapists through weekend workshops. I thoroughly enjoy these workshops and have had the opportunity to travel as far afield as New Zealand, meeting some truly inspirational therapists who have, in turn, shared their own ideas, skills and knowledge with me, ensuring that I continue to grow and develop as a therapist.
Elspeth is based in rural Kinross-shire, Scotland.
Owner and therapist at Footpath Therapies.
→ Fully insured.
→ Registered with the Disclosure Scotland PVG scheme (Adults and Children)
→ A full member of the Association of Reflexologists.
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