Renée Tanner is a world leader in the fields of Reflexology and Aromatherapy. She is an accomplished author who has made a number of appearances on television and radio and has contributed articles to numerous magazines and newspapers, as well as being principal of the first school of beauty and complementary therapy in the UK. Renée is an international teacher and therapist. Her clients/patients are from every walk of life, from every corner of the world. Many of these people make long plane journeys just to receive a treatment from Renée. Her dedication to the profession is faultless.
A Childhood of Natural Health Interest
Renée grew up in Ireland , where folk medicine and folk-lore were a part of life there; where so many people influenced her in the ways of helping others, in particular her parents and grandmother. In the surrounding countryside there were those who had the cure for most ills: growing pains and old-age pains, chesty coughs and chilblains, to name but a few. There was the bone setter who was on hand to relieve the pain of a slipped disc and mend a broken leg, whether it was man or beast that was afflicted.
Observations and Changes
Following her nurse training in the early 1960's Renée moved to London where she began to study beauty therapy and later holistic massage and aromatherapy. Further training gained her a qualification in physical therapy.
While studying beauty therapy, Renée was fascinated by feet; the different shapes and sizes: flat ones, high arches, bunions ( hallux valgus ) claw toes and hammer toes, blisters and corns.
She marvelled at the wonder of these faithful supports that take us through life with minimum fuss, in spite of being the most neglected part of the body. Noticing that following a pedicure and foot massage most clients seemed less stressed than those who did not wish for, or have the time for a massage, she began discussing her observations with a colleague, Chinese therapist Candice Wong.
The Chinese Influence
Renée and Candice concluded that it was the massage that was the key to that special relaxed look. Candice offered to give Renée a special Chinese foot treatment; it was something she had learned from observing her grandfather, the local village foot doctor, at work.
Lunch time provided an opportunity for the girls to practice the therapy, but Renée's first experience of the Chinese treatment had her crying in pain, eventually insisting that Candice should stop the massage. Naturally others wanted to try, as Candice was convinced that Renée was acting like a baby, but each one in the group felt that the pain and pressure exerted by Candice was all too much for the delicate Western constitution. Candice agreed to modify her pressure and continued to work on fellow students during lunch breaks. Renée worked alongside, copying the act to perfection, eventually working alone and treating in excess of ten people a week in her spare time, including Candice, who had agreed to treatment providing that the pressure was hard and the therapy was known by the traditional name of Dr Wong's Foot Therapy. Eventually Candice gave the seal of approval; all others Renée treated about that time enjoyed the experience – with a little less pressure. Dr. Wong's Therapy was developing into a special routine, and RenéeÂ's beauty therapy teacher and school principal Marion Ayers was happy that Candice and Renée offer this newly acquired skill for the benefit of the clients.
A Foot Therapist
Marion allowed clients to book a treatment independent of pedicure. Chinese Foot Massage for Health was considered to be a more appealing name than Dr Wong's Therapy and so a new name for an ancient art was born.
This is when Renée first began to work out that there really was a connection between the feet and the internal workings of the body. At this time she intuitively walked through the feet in five or six rows from heel to toe, established today as ‘zone walking' or ‘channel clearing'. She also modified the general pressure increasing and decreasing according to the state of health, size of foot and client feedback, with regard to comfort.
A Western Reflexologist
Some years later as a qualified therapist and principal of the first School of Beauty and Complementary Therapy in the UK , Renée went on a trip to Africa , where she met reflexologist Edith Holmes, better known to her friends as Eddie. This was a chance meeting between two women at a social gathering and the start of a journey of further discovery for Renée. Eddie lent her two books written in 1938 by the grandmother of Reflexology, Eunice Ingham.
The First Beauty and Complementary Therapy School in the UK
Having given hundreds of treatments in Africa, under the supervision of Eddie, Renée returned to the UK where she added Reflexology to the school curriculum. On her return to London she also set out on a mission to find practising reflexologists in the UK and managed to locate just three therapists: Doreen Bailey, a disciple of Eunice Ingham; Gladys Evans, a disciple of Jo Reily, (Eunice Ingham's tutor) and, Joseph Corvo (a Zone Therapist). All four therapists met on more than one occasion exchanging ideas, knowledge and treatments. Doreen Bailey, who to this point was a therapist first and a self help trainer second, decided with some encouragement from Renée that she too should put her energies into educating and training professional therapists. Gladys Evans continued to work as a professional reflexology therapist until the mid 1970's. Joseph Corvo never deviated from his strong beliefs in Zone Therapy and continued to practice along these lines.
Renée realised the need for a broad knowledge of Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology for all professional therapists and introduced the first such independent study programme for reflexologists in 1974.
Renée was a founder member of the British Complementary Medicine Association (B.C.M.A.). She represented both Reflexology and Aromatherapy at the launch of the B.C.M.A. at the House of Lords in 1991. She later held the posts of Publicity Officer and also Education Officer of the Association. Renée has also served as a member of the advisory team to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Complementary Therapy. She was a guest speaker at the House of Parliament in Cape Town for the Sub-Committee on Health and Complementary Therapy 1999 and was an invited guest of the All India Symposium on Health and Complementary Therapy in 1996. Renée spent seven years as Director of Reflexology Studies at London Â's second largest College of Further Education . She is the current Chair of the International Federation of Reflexologists (I.F.R.). Renée also holds the office of Honorary Principal of the Japan Reflexology Education Colleges and is an Honorary Member and advisor to the Korean Association of Reflexologists. Renée worked as a therapist and trainer in the South African townships and in Calcutta and Mumbai. In 2000 she wrote and published a document of guidelines and protocol on the practice of Reflexology for Cancer and Palliative Care. She has also contributed to the National Guidelines for the Use of Complementary Therapies in Supportive and Palliative Care published by the Prince of WalesÂ's Foundation for Integrated Health in 2003.
Renée is currently an active member of the Reflexology Forum UK and of the Forum's Sub-Committee on Education and Training. She works in an advisory capacity for Reflexology in New Zealand , Australia , Canada , Barbados , the Philippines , the USA , Mauritius , Cyprus , Ireland and South Africa to name just a few.