Indian Head Massage Q & A with Carolyn McGouey, ASR Instructor

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

So many of us carry a lot of tension in our neck, shoulders, and scalp. Learn more about Indian Head Massage today!

The therapist applies a series of brisk massage movements to the client's scalp.  Client is seated in a chair.
Indian Head Massage is dynamic and fast-paced.

This week we sat down with Carolyn McGouey, an instructor here at Atlantic School of Reflexology.

Carolyn is a Certified Professional Reflexology Therapist and Pranic Healing Practitioner at her practice, Feet 2 Feelings Therapeutic Foot Reflexology, in Sussex, NB. She loves to provide Indian Head Massage and teach the modality to others, and was happy to answer some common questions about it.

Q. What is Indian Head Massage?

A. Indian Head Massage (IHM) is therapy that combines energy-based pressure point techniques with massage strokes. This effective therapy works on the body’s energy system as well as its physical structure. It evolved from traditional techniques practiced in India for over a thousand years and is currently enjoying a revival in Europe and Asia, that is now spreading in popularity to North America.

Q. What is it about Indian Head Massage that you enjoy?

A. I enjoy Indian Head Massage because it is dynamic and fast-paced, and because it can be so versatile.

Q. What do you mean by "it can be so versatile"?

A. Indian Head Massage is very effective all on its own as a treatment, however, it also lends itself very well to reflexology. You can incorporate hand, face, ear, body, and/or foot reflexology to an Indian Head Massage to make it even more effective. If you only want to take certain pieces and parts of the other reflex charts and include them for a specific client concern, you can do that as well.

Indian Head Massage techniques can be a valuable add-on to your practitioner offerings: for instance, hair dressers may want to offer this as part of their services. IHM can be used in more clinical applications, for instance to help alleviate pain and tension, as well as in more spa-like applications for relaxation. I find it very versatile.

Q. How would you incorporate reflexology into an Indian Head Massage and why?

A. If you have training in reflexology, be it ear, facial, hand, body, or feet, you can weave in those treatments to your IHM session where applicable. For example, when we are working on the shoulders or down the back to affect the trapezius muscles, there may be tender areas specifically identified by the client. You could stop and work the tender area as a body reflex to aid the release of tension. Working down the arm to the hand, you could spend time on the correlating hand reflexes to affect the same area. Having access to multiple reflexes or areas that correlated to each other allows the therapist more points to help the body access its own healing ability.

Q. So I see how you can combine Indian Head Massage with reflexology, but is IHM effective all on its own?

A. Yes, It is extremely effective all on its own. I have some clients that prefer Indian Head Massage over all the other treatments I offer, it really works for them. Even though the focus of Indian Head Massage is clearing depleted energy, stimulating the muscles, and increasing blood flow, it also has a very relaxing and calming effect. There are some techniques that can appear to be a bit intense, however, they really are not: they are performed quickly, rather than slowly or repetitively in the same area.

Q. What is a typical Indian Head Massage session like? How long does it last?

A. An Indian Head Massage takes place with the client seated. The client usually wears a tube top or a towel wrap that leaves the upper shoulders, arms, and neck exposed. The practitioner starts by working down the neck area to the shoulders and performs a series of techniques that affect the pectoral area, then works down the trapezius muscles alongside the spine. Once those are completed, attention goes to the shoulders and arms. Squeezing, shoulder rotations and other techniques are applied down the arm to the hands. Then therapist returns to the head and scalp and performs a series of techniques to relax, stimulate and balance these areas. Finally, there are some techniques performed on the face.

A normal session is going to take about 45 minutes to 1 hour, however can be shorter or longer depending on what the therapist is offering.

Students at IHM training

Q. As an instructor, can you tell me a little about the Indian Head Massage course offered by Atlantic School of Reflexology?

A. This course is a personal favourite of mine. The School offers a professional certification course, where you spend two days in classroom learning and perfecting your technique. We focus on hands-on practice in addition to the history, theory, and application of IHM. We also talk about the business aspect of being a practitioner. After the course, students complete a self-study and practicum in order to attain their certification.

We would like to extend big thanks to Carolyn for taking time to answer our questions! Want to know more? Our current course dates can be found on our Indian Head Massage page. Or send us a message to

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