Val Winchester began her training in 1996 at the Maureen Burgess School of Reflexology at Roehampton where she also qualified in Advanced Reflexology. Her interest in this therapy was sparked following family illness and she had watched a nurse perform some massage techniques which helped tremendously.
Since then, she has studied with the International College of Crystal Healing where she qualified as a Crystal Therapist and learned meditation. Val has run meditation groups and workshops for many years which she enjoys immensely.
In 2015 she qualified as an Access Consciousness Bars Practitioner and during the following year she qualified as an Access Bars Facilitator which allows Val to teach Bars classes. She has also completed the Access Energetic Facelift, Access Body Processes, and the Access Foundation course as well which has given her more tools to work with during the Access Bars treatment.
I spoke with Val to learn more about her work supporting her own clients and reflexologists.
Article words by Kelly Hainsworth and Val Winchester
Could we start by you sharing a little bit about yourself?
Well I was born in Scotland. I have a twin sister. I always wanted to work with horses but my father would not allow that so my early career was as a Legal PA. I married young at 20 and had my first daughter when I was 22 and the second when I was 29. My first husband became ill with heart problems at the age of 37 and it was actually through his illness and also my mother having breast cancer that I began my search into complementary/alternative therapies. I met a wonderful healer in Wales named George Chapman who opened my third eye and helped me on my way to becoming a healer too.
Sadly my husband and my mother died within 8 weeks of each other in 1998. This was a huge trauma but as they say, we only grow through adversity and this has brought me great empathy with others who have been bereaved and somehow I have been able to help them through my own experiences. I have been lucky enough to remarry another wonderful man in 2006.
What was your first experience of reflexology and what led to the decision to train and create your own business?
Continuing from the last question – after watching the nurse massage my husband’s feet, I gave it a go myself. I also started massaging my mother’s feet as it seemed to relax her and bring some comfort. As a result of this, my mother’s best friend sent off for details of a reflexology course (run by Maureen Burgess). Maureen sent me the course application form.
So you see, it was all set up for me. Having chosen to do the course, I thought I had better have a treatment myself! I happened to have a sinus infection at the time and the result of the treatment was amazing. After just one session – during which my eyes watered a lot! – through clearing not through pain, I might add – I was better.
Having created a successful business, what advice would you share with a reflexologist who is just starting out on their business journey?
My advice would be just to be yourself, look after your clients as best you can, be kind and caring and you will get referrals. If you have another job, then start your practise part-time at first and then it will build. Thank the Universe for
every client and ask for more. Dedicate your time wisely, it is easy to burn out!
You are well known within the reflexology community for using crystals with reflexology, when did your use of crystals begin?
My interest in crystals was sparked very young after a school visit to the Geology Museum. I used to collect postcards of crystals before I had any myself. After finishing my reflexology training, I found that I was beginning to feel unwell after treating certain clients. A fellow reflexologist told me I was “ungrounded” and that she knew a crystal healer who could help. We both took a 2 day introductory course on crystals and grounding and that was it. I was hooked. I joined a meditation group where we used crystals to meditate and a few years later decided to embark on the 3 year Crystal Healing Course.
What is your favourite crystal and why?
My favourite crystal has to be my beautiful Grade A Amethyst Geode. I had admired it for some time and I must have kept going on about it because my first husband secretly went and bought it for me as a surprise.
What happens during a crystal reflexology treatment?
The way that I work is that I assess the client’s energy using a crystal pendulum. I am then guided as to which crystals to use and where. I may be guided to place the crystals around or on the client’s body. Then when I work on the feet, I use various crystals on the feet including different shaped crystal wands. At the end of the session, I do a crystal massage on the feet. I warm the crystals before doing the massage and my clients love it. Then I remove any crystals on the body and gently talk the client back.
If a reflexologist would like to start using crystals within their reflexology treatments, what advice would you share with them to begin their journey?
It is necessary and important to experience the energy of crystals. Reading books about them may give some information but there is no substitute for meditating with crystals to get to “know” them. If you can find a meditation group to join, as I did, that would be a great start. You can also start a small collection simply by buying the crystals you are drawn to. There is no substitute for finding a good course. My basic course includes all the information you need to get started including a meditation which you can use for any crystal. But again, find the course and the tutor you are drawn to.
As a therapist and tutor – how do you organise your week and make sure there is also time for self-care?
This is a great question as I used to be very bad at organising my time and I would say “yes” to every client that wanted an appointment, squeezing them in and exhausting myself in the process. I have worked from home mostly but also had some time working in clinics. I certainly learned to be very efficient in the clinics but I felt I couldn’t always give my clients the time they needed to talk. So working from home suits me.
I always leave at least 30 minutes between clients and make sure I get a proper lunch break. I will only see one client in the evening. I confess I don’t reserve specific days of the week for working but I do space my clients out so that it is never overwhelming.
What is your hope for the reflexology profession for the future?
My hope is that this much needed profession will go from strength to strength. People are more stressed than ever in
the world at this time. I hope that the medical profession will come to realise even more that stress relief is the greatest prevention of illness and disease in the body. If we could see more reflexologists connected to GP surgeries and hospitals that would be great.
Quick Fire Questions – Get to Know Val More:
What is your favourite place to go on holiday? – Egypt – the land of magic and mystery!
Coffee or tea? Lemon Tea.
How would you spend your ideal day away from work? Playing with my horse and laughing with my best friends.
Instagram or Facebook? Facebook.
What is your favourite reflexology or well-being book of all time? Ooh that’s a tricky one. I am torn between two “You are the Placebo” by Dr Joe Dispenza and “Being You, Changing the World” by Dr Dain Heer.
Val’s Business Tips for Reflexologists
I have learned to ask questions around my business. Asking questions opens you up to possibilities. For example:
What else is possible with my business?
Where are the bodies that I can help today and what would it take for them to show up?
Who can give me money today?
What would it take for me to create a business beyond my wildest dreams?
Val Winchester is a reflexologist and provides CPD courses to practitioners including the Association of Reflexologists approved course Using Crystals with Reflexology. In addition Val provides an advanced course, online course, Access Bars, Access Energetic Facelift and Access Body Processes.
To learn more about Val’s work and her training courses please visit her website.