Warren files bill trying to establish North Carolina Healing Arts Commission

Published 12:05 am Friday, April 28, 2023

RALEIGH — Rep. Harry Warren has filed a bill that will establish the North Carolina Healing Arts Commission and create licensure processes for reflexologists, naturopathic doctors and music therapists.

Currently, all three of the practices have national boards where practitioners take exams to become nationally certified, but North Carolina doesn’t have a board where they become state certified. If passed, House Bill 557 gives the new commission the power to issue a North Carolina Healing Arts License.

Here are details on each practice:

• Reflexology is a type of massage that involves applying different amounts of pressure to the feet, hands and ears. It is believed that applying pressure to these parts offers a range of health benefits, including improvement of nerve functions and brain power, increased blood circulation, boosting metabolism, relieving stress and eliminating toxins in your body.

• Naturopathic doctors use natural remedies to help the body heal itself and includes treatments such as massage, acupuncture, exercise, nutritional counseling and herbs.

• Music therapists assess patients and design music-based interventions to help manage pain, reduce stress, express emotion, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation.

State Rep. Harry Warren

When asked why he was sponsoring the bill, Warren said he was approached by a Salisbury woman who practices reflexology and asked if he could help her and others become recognized by the state.

“They are certified through a national organization, so they know what they’re doing,” Warren said. “They were trying to become legitamized in the state for different reasons, but there is too few of them to support having a licensing board.”

The local woman is Cynthia Hill, a reflexologist for over 30 years and the current president of the North Carolina Reflexologist Association. Hill approached Warren because she has been having issues with the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy, which grants a state license to become a masseuse in the state. They told Hill that she must get a massage license to practice reflexology in North Carolina, something she says is not true.

“You can call the massage board and ask ‘what does it take to practice reflexology in the state of North Carolina’ and they will lie to you and they will tell you ‘you have to have a massage license.’ It’s not true,” Hill said. “They do not respect a reflexologist’s education, which is vastly different from what massage therapists do.”

Hill has said that because she refuses to get her massage license, the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy has been “bullying” reflexologists that she has worked with. She said the board only wants reflexologists to go through them so they can get more money.

“They don’t even know what we do. They can’t even teach what we do. Why would we want to do that? That would be like requiring an electrician to learn plumbing codes before he hotwires your house,” Hill said. “This massage board has bullied people to the point where they would go into their practices and verbally harass them. This has got to stop.”

Hill explained while there is no state licensing process for reflexologist, she has received her national certification from the American Reflexology Certification Board, which issues exams practitioners must pass to receive their license and also through the North Carolina Reflexologist Association.

Hill and reflexologists have made three or four trips to Raleigh to show lawmakers how reflexology works and try to make them understand the practice and the benefits it can provide, including helping those with PTSD. Hill refuses to let the massage board stop her from helping people.

“They want to take that away from us? I don’t think so. Not on my watch,” Hill said.