Meet the Tutor: Catriona Plunkett

Catriona Plunkett is an Holistic Therapist and Trainer at Golden Egg Holistic.

Founded by Catriona in 2008, Golden Egg Holistic is an award winning, centre of excellence for Holistic and Complementary Therapy training.

Catriona is very passionate about reflexology as a complementary therapy and is very proud to be the Irish Co-ordinator for ICR (International Council of Reflexologists). 


Article words by Kelly Hainsworth and Catriona Plunkett.


I spoke with Catriona to learn more about her work and running Golden Egg Holistic.

Hello Catriona

1. Could we start by you sharing a little bit about yourself?

I was born in the sunny south east of Ireland, Co.Wexford. I grew up close to the sea and spent a lot of time on the beach as a child. I have 2 older brothers and one older sister who still live in Wexford, so I love to get back there as much as I can. I now live in County Laois which is in the midlands , surrounded by hills and beautiful woodlands.

I have been happily married to Ollie for 15 years and we have 2 gorgeous children – Polly (11) and Reuben (13). Before I trained in holistic therapies I studied product design and almost went on to study car design! I worked in the area of design and CAD for many years and I still love design and all things colourful and creative. As a family we love to travel to new places, go to concerts together, try new foods and just explore in general. We are looking forward to dusting off the passports now that its safe to travel again and visit more places we pinned on our wall map over lockdown!

2. What was your first experience of reflexology and what led to the decision to train and create your own business?

My mother was a pediatric nurse and would tell us stories of her time at Crumlins Children’s Hospital in Dublin before she got married, nursing children with cancer. She would massage their tummies and rub their feet to comfort them when they were in pain or feeling distressed.

She would do the same for me and my siblings when we were growing up. We were given herbs instead of medications and she was always checking our nails as a guide for what we needed nutritionally, which only made sense to me when I started training in reflexology myself.

She died when I was a teenager but her strong presence and holistic beliefs have stayed with me. My dad is also very open to holistic therapies and enjoys the benefits of regular reflexology treatments. He is retired now, but has the feet of a 10 year old as he minds them so well. So I guess I grew up connecting touch with comfort and healing, especially when it comes to the feet. There is something very spiritual about massaging someones feet. I have studied many therapies but reflexology continues to be my favourite, to give and receive.

3. At what point in your business did you know that you wanted to open a school and provide training to therapists?

It happened by accident really, after I began training in holistic therapies, I invited several international trainers to come and teach in Ireland because I couldn’t find some specialised areas of training available here. It sort of developed and snowballed from there really!

4. If there was one thing that you wish you would have known when becoming self-employed what would it be?

How consuming admin work is. It’s my least favourite part of being self-employed. I love all the other pieces – giving therapies, meeting new people, teaching, but I don’t like the paperwork.

5. Having created a successful business, what advice would you share with a reflexologist who is feeling stuck within their business?

Follow your passion, if you feel stuck working in one area consider a different area, upskill, add another therapy to your skillset, work with a different client base.

The world of holistic therapies is so vast now that you can very easily take a slightly different path and work in a different area and a whole new world opens up to you. Sometimes it can be something as simple as changing from working in a clinic/spa to working from home to create that shift.

6. What has been your most humbling experience as a reflexologist and tutor?

As a tutor it’s always lovely to see a student transitioning from a job/career they they no longer feel passionate about, to working as an holistic therapist and loving their job. Making such a huge change in your life is not easy, so to be a small part of that journey with someone is a privilege.

As a therapist, there is a lot of joy in receiving a text from mum with a colicky baby days after a reflexology/massage session to say their baby is feeding, sleeping and settling better since they’ve been using the reflexology and massage techniques I taught them, sleep is everything!

7. What has been your greatest achievement in your business?

I am delighted to have been instrumental in bringing so many amazing trainers and training options to Ireland from all over the world, enabling Irish therapists to expand their skillsets in areas that were not available to them previously. I’m also very proud of the standard of training we provide at Golden Egg Holistic, we work very hard to make sure students get the best education and that they feel they are supported 100%.

8. What exciting plans does Golden Egg Holistic have for 2022?

We have more fantastic new training programmes and International trainers coming to Golden Egg this year including Peter Mackereth, Sharon Windle and Moss Arnold, David Wayte, Barbara Scott, Jane Sheehan, Dorothy Kelly, Angela Telford, and more.

I am looking forward to giving a webinar on “Understanding Digestive Ailments in Children“ for the Australian Association of Reflexology in April, and speaking at the Canadian Reflexology Associations conference in September.

The ICR have lots of interesting projects lined up also and as the Irish ICR co-ordinator, I am really looking forward to connecting with reflexologists from all over the world through those projects.

I am also very excited to see a product I have been working on for a few years coming to fruition this year, it’s a pair of reflexology feet for demonstrating the zones, reflexes and chakras, on the feet. It’s now at the prototype stage.

They will make a great tool for reflexology students and for trainers also. I have really enjoyed working on them as it has combined two of my greatest passions – feet and design!

9. As a therapist and tutor – how do you organise your week and make sure there is also time for self-care?

I literally put large Xs in my diary weeks and months ahead, so that time is put aside and I don’t double book myself. My husband works from home also so we organise our time to make sure we have regular walks together while the kids are at school and also together as a family. Who needs a burnt out therapist? We need to practice what we preach to our clients.

10. What is your hope for the reflexology profession for the future?

In Ireland reflexology is integrated into our healthcare system in many ways, which is fantastic. I would love to see this develop even more. I strongly believe that complementary therapies like reflexology can take pressure off a heavily burdened health system while really benefiting the client, if everyone works together with the best interest of the client in mind.


Quick Fire Questions – Get to Know Catriona More.

(1) What is your favourite place to go on holiday?
I love travelling to new places all the time so I have no one favourite, but I would love to revisit Morocco, Australia and South America.

(2) Coffee or tea?

Coffee

(3) How would you spend your ideal day away from work?
A reflexology treatment, followed by a long walk on the beach, then dinner with family/friends.

(4) Instagram or Facebook?

Instagram

(5) What is your favourite well-being book or podcast of all time?

I listened to a lot of plum village podcasts over lockdown, and Tara Brachs daily meditations while out walking. I’m listening to Brene Browns podcasts at the moment, Oprahs Super Soul, and if I have something on my mind going to bed it’s Deepak Chopra I listen to- just the sound of his voice helps me drift into a restful sleep.

One of my favourite well-being books of all time is Mary Atkinson’s “Healing Touch for Children”, I recommend it to all parents. She’s an inspirational author and trainer who has become a good friend over the years. Mary’s daily “Story Massage Instagram lives” during lockdown with her Teddy Emmanuel were just brilliant, and a very welcome break from homeschooling in our house.


Catriona’s Business Tips

  • Be guided by your intuition, if it doesn’t feel right don’t do it. If you don’t feel comfortable working with certain clients/ailments, refer them on.
  • Find your Therapy Tribe – connect with other holistic therapists locally and arrange regular treatment swaps.
  • Think outside the box – offer something different. It takes time to build up a client base so don’t expect it to happen overnight.
  • Dance to your own beat, stay in your own lane and let others do what works for them, there’s plenty of sore feet to go around!
  • Find a balance that works for you and your family, it can be hard to say no when self employed, but we need to set boundaries for ourselves and for clients. Self-care is not a luxury, it’s essential for your mental and physical health.
  • As humans we are evolving all the time so I think it’s important to stop and reflect often and see if something needs to change to keep the fire burning, it’s so important to enjoy what you do.

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