An interview with Carol Hawksley, SCT Instructor (Retired) and Wellness Facilitator
By Deborah Dunleavy
It has always fascinated me that there are so many ancient ways of keeping well and yet in our modern world of ‘bigger is better’ and ‘more begat more’, we seldom find time from our stressful lifestyles to take care of our own personal health.
Wellness Facilitator, Carol Hawksley, makes the study and practice of the Healing Arts a way of life that is nurturing, inspiring and encouraging her clients to choose healthier, happier and more productive lives.
‘What made you decide to become a wellness facilitator?’
When I started my business ten years ago, I was offering a variety of services including Reflexology. Therapeutic Touch, Infant Massage Instruction, Relaxation Massage and Leisure Workshops. Somewhere inside of me my sense was that the list would not stop there.
There were so many wonderful treatments and techniques emerging that my interests and imagination were swirling. When thinking about a name for my business I wanted something that would reflect what I offered not only in the beginning but also as my services expanded.
I started to look at commonalities, what was the common thing that I was offering. Some of what I offered was ‘hands on’, some was education and information, some was about relaxation and stress reduction, some was about improved health.
As all of this began to come together, it seemed to me to be about improving wellness. In addition to this, my belief is that I’m not ‘doing something to the person’ rather we are doing something together. The clients take an active role, even if it seems they are just passively lying there receiving a treatment. I’m only facilitating or helping them so their bodies can do what they naturally want to do and are able to do.
The more I looked at what I had to offer and the more I thought about what my belief about my roles was, the more I saw the words ‘wellness’ and ‘facilitator’ emerging. It was not that I saw the ‘job description’ of a Wellness Facilitator and then decided to pursue a career in that direction. But rather I recognized my beliefs as well as my training and expertise and the term ‘Wellness Facilitator’ seemed to invent itself.
‘Offering reflexology treatments is a large part of your healing work. How does it work?’
How does reflexology work? What a good question. Even though reflexology has been around for over 5,000 years, and even though we have so many wonderful modern testing techniques and equipment, there still is not an answer to your question. However, I can explain a bit about the different systems involved.
To begin, there are reflex points on the feet that seem to be linked with our entire body structure, so all of the glands and organs and body areas have specific reflex areas represented on the feet. Another system is called Zone or Zonal therapy. This was the early forerunner from which modern reflexology was developed.
There are ten zones running vertically from head to toes as well as down the arms to the fingers. Each strip or ‘zone’ is numbered with the big toe and thumb #1, through to the little toe and little finger as #5. It would appear that by working a toe, everything in the body in that corresponding zone is activated.
As well, there are points on the toes and fingers that correspond to the Meridian system. That is the same meridian system that acupuncture is based on.
‘I understand you were at the top of your class with 99% upon completion of your original foot reflexology course. What other training have you taken?’
I began therapeutic touch training in 1992 finishing all three levels and the other requirements to become a Recognized therapeutic Touch Practitioner and a member of the therapeutic Touch Network of Ontario (TTNO) in 1998. As a requirement to maintain that designation, I attend a minimum of eight hours continuing Therapeutic Touch specific training per year, as well as attend a monthly Practice Group.
In 1999 I received my certification as an Infant Massage Instructor through the International Association of Infant Massage. This specific technique is taught in over thirty countries around the world. It is a form of massage that combines aspects of East Indian massage, Swedish Massage, Yoga and Reflexology.
‘How do you teach Infant Massage to parents?’
I give the instructions while demonstrating with a doll and parents massage their babies. They learn not only about massage strokes, but also a little bit about anatomy, respect, and how to read their baby’s communication cues.
This technique helps to calm the baby, stimulate growth, and improve such things as sleep, digestion, and elimination. The whole family benefits from the instruction. Parents say they feel more confident in their role as a parent. This, in turn, has a spin off affect on the rest of the family, both immediate and extended, because if the baby and parents are more relaxed and healthier, everyone around them is also more relaxed and happier.
‘How do you use massage with adults?’
My training for relaxation massage is les formal. I took a basic introduction course on ‘Swedish Massage’ and I have gained experience while treating several Registered Massage therapists. I also continue to do extensive reading. What I offer is ‘Relaxation Massage’ for clients strictly for relaxation purposes. If anyone asks for a treatment of a specific condition, I refer them to a Registered Massage Therapist.
Learning, for me, is ongoing and takes many forms. Part of my less formal learning is receiving services from others. Learning how other people do things and how I feel in receiving a service helps me to be a better therapist for my clients.
‘What other courses have enriched you work?’
For years I have had a fascination and an interest in crystals and stones, firstly because of their beauty—nature is amazing. Then I learned how their different properties could be helpful to my clients.
The School where I took my original reflexology course, the Holistic Foot Reflexology with the School of Complementary Therapies (SCT) [at the Ottawa satellite,] was offering an Advanced Reflexology course called ‘Crystal Reflexology’. This course taught about the properties of various stones and crystals and how to use them in different ways during a reflexology treatment.
‘I’ve always wondered how crystals work. Can you explain this?’
Quartz crystals vibrate to a certain frequency. That is why they have been used in ‘quartz’ watches for years. Other stones and crystals have different ‘vibrational’ frequencies. The crystal frequencies seem to assist the body in harmonizing its own frequencies, in other words, bringing the body functions back into harmony and balance.
The use of crystals seems to deepen the person’s experience of a reflexology treatment with some people saying it feels almost like they have had a double reflexology treatment.
‘How do you keep up to date with your work?’
I have taken many other courses through SCT. The School offers Reflexology Refresher Days where participants have an opportunity to both give and receive reflexology treatments from other practitioners which is a great learning experience.
Also, on those days, information about current topics, legislation and other relevant subjects are presented. These days are open to all reflexologists and all reflexology students from all schools, so my knowledge base is broadened way beyond just one single school or one teacher’s perspective.
Another valuable course through SCT that I took was Anatomy and Physiology. This broadened my understanding of the body’s structure and how it works.
It is amazing how the different aspects of all of my training connect. Aspects of reflexology help me to better understand Infant Massage and vice-versa. The Anatomy and Physiology [course] helped me to better understand the workings of all my other training and the other training helped me to better understand the Anatomy and Physiology course.
‘Do you see yourself as a teacher?’
It wasn’t until sometime during 2003-2004, that people started telling me that I would make a great teacher. At first it seemed to be just a comment in response to how I conduct my sessions. I have always tried to pass along bits of education to my clients to help them learn more about the service they are receiving and a bit more about themselves.
But then I realized I had been a teacher for years. When I was in my teens I taught figure skating. That teaching continued for many years both as an amateur coach and then as a professional coach. During that time the Canadian Coaching Certification program came into being, so I took three Levels of that training.
Over the years I have incorporated teaching into many aspects of previous employment and volunteerism. So it made sense that I became a Certified Reflexology Teacher with the School of Complementary Therapies. I am authorized by SCT to teach Holistic Foot Reflexology, Reflexology Refresher Days, Introduction to Reflexology for Registered Massage Therapists, Crystal Reflexology, Anatomy and Physiology, Holistic Hand Reflexology and Magic Wand Workshop.
‘How does Magic Wand work?”
The Magic Wand workshop is not about capital ‘M’ magic but it is more about putting the small ‘m’ magic back into our busy hectic lives. It is a way to look at what is important to us and a gentle reminder of ways to focus on those important aspects of ourselves.
‘How do you keep inspired?’
I am always seeking out new techniques and new information. Recently, I trained at the fusion School of Natural health in a course on Ayurvedic head Massage. This is an East Indian technique that is over 1,000 years old and it is still practiced in many Indian households as a weekly home treatment.
I am now certified as an Ayurvedic Head Massage Practitioner and am teaching the practice to others.
“Ayurvedic head massage. Now that sounds interesting. Who could benefit from this?’
Anyone could benefit from Ayurvedic Head Massage. In East Indian traditional homes it has begun at birth. Certainly the extent of massage done with a newborn would be minimal, but none the less aspects are used from birth.
‘I think I can see a link here.’
Yes. Remember earlier I was talking about how all of my training seems to be connected. The Infant Massage course now includes information about how newborns in India have their heads and bodies massaged using certain oils that enhance growth.
‘You have shared your experience and knowledge by teaching Advanced Reflexology both locally and in other parts of the province [of Ontario]. How many people have you trained?’
I am not sure of the numbers as I have lost track over the years, but in this region I have trained people in Barry’s Bay, Ottawa, Brockville, Athens, Cardinal, Addison, Kemptville, North Augusta, just to name a few. In Norwestern Ontario I have had about fifteen students in several different communities.
‘How do you see your role in the community of reflexologists?’
My role in the community of reflexologists, I believe, is that of both teacher and students. We are all unique with unique combinations of learning. In effect, we are all teachers and students at the same time.
‘You are quite active in your community and have received recognition for your contributions in the business sector. How does it feel to be recognized by your peers?’
For eight years I was a member of the 1000 Islands (Brockville) Business Network International Chapter. This experience was invaluable. I learned many, many things, both about business and about myself personally.
The purpose of this group is to encourage networking as a way to promote business. Networking is the fastest growing marketing technique used today. In 2004 and 2005, my peers saw fit to nominate me as Notable Networker.
The criteria included such aspects as positive attitude, attendance, number of referrals to other businesses, attending training and holding offices within the Chapter, as well as generally promoting the concepts of networking.
I was absolutely amazed that others in the group considered me with such high regard. You know we go through life doing what feels right and trying to help and make a difference, but we very rarely find out what impact we have on other people and even rarer do we find out what others think of us. Those awards mean a lot to me because they say that I helped to make a difference to people’s businesses and personal lives.
‘How do you know that your wellness work is having a positive effect? Can you think of one special situation where someone made a break through?’
I get feedback from people almost on a daily basis. Of the reflexology treatments, people remark about improved sleep, more energy, improved digestion and elimination, reduced stress, and reduced aches and pains. People often comment, after some interruption to their usual weekly or bi-weekly treatment schedule that their body began telling them that it was time for another treatment.
With Infant Massage, I occasionally see past families. They are always excited to tell me how the massage they learned and continue to give to their babies, and any additional babies they have, has made such a difference in the lives—more connectedness, more confidence, and healthy and happy babies.
My workshops are so numerous from short presentations to more lengthy personal journeys, but, one recent correspondence gave me great pleasure. This person attended the ‘Discover Your Passion’ Workshop.
I had known the person for several years but in a more personal/social environment. I thought I knew this person and I thought here participation in this workshop would just be a fun day where she could play and focus on herself. Well you know what happens when we think we ‘know’ something.
This workshop was very powerful for this person, helping her to gain much personal insight. Her note talked about how a few simple statements and concepts had such a profound affect helping her to move forward.
One of the things I believe in is self-care. This does not mean to care only for yourself at other people’s expense, but rather to care for yourself so you have energy to give to others. I always come back to that safety demonstration done on airplanes where they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before you put it on anyone with you, in your care. You have to be healthy to be able to give to others.
‘Where have you offered your wellness seminars?’
Many place. I have been asked to present in various locations from a Massage Therapists class at a school in Ottawa where I presented a seminar on Introduction to Meditation, to a women’s day in Spencerville where I presented a workshop on Self-Care. At the YMCA in Brockville I gave a seminar on Personal Power and another one on the importance of leisure activities.
‘Why are leisure activities important?”
There have been many studies done on the importance of leisure activities in a person’s life. In fact, results have shown that the amount of time a person spends engaged in leisure activities away from the usual ‘work’ lives is directly linked to their increased creativity, their increased productivity, and their increased income. Who would guess that play can be so powerful.
‘What keeps you going as a wellness facilitator?’
Passion and fascination. I continue to be fascinated by how this simple technique of a sequence of strokes done on the feet or hands can affect such wonderful changes in the body. Over and over people tell me their stories of how helpful reflexology is for them. As well, I make sure I receive reflexology on a regular basis. I learn how helpful it can be for me. This fascination and constant learning fuels my passion.
‘You are offering a new workshop called ‘Leaping Lizards’. What is it?’
‘Leaping Lizards’ is designed for people in transition in their lives, whether they are leaving their existing employment or looking for new ways to use their gifts, talents and abilities. It may be they are entering a new phase of their lives or have a desire to explore innovative ways of expressing their visions and creative selves.
In this workshop the participants have an opportunity to enter into creative explorations and to discover individual potential for enriching their lives.
Carol Hawksley is a member of the Brockville Women’s Network, Brockville Women in Business, Therapeutic Touch Network of Ontario, Ontario College of Reflexology, Reflexology Registration Council of Ontario, and International Association of Infant Massage.
Deborah Dunleavy is an award-winning author and storyteller who offers StoryPro Seminars for businesses and organizations.