Someone wrote me directly about this technique and I thought it would be of interest to this thread. My response:
Its funny you said that as a massage therapist, you were taught not to tickle people. That's exactly what my LMT said
But then she said too that she is always open to new things. Its funny too how even I refer to it as new, when it was done in Egypt (Queen Hatshepsut), 17 Century France, Victorian Agr Russia, etc. She is also not a reflexologist but says she believes this all works on a multitude of levels, one being the triggering of reflex points, but also therapeutic touch, nerve stimulation, the laughter, and releasing of endorphines, etc.
I agree too that it probably wouldn't work for everyone just as a light touch or a heavy touch wouldn't work with everyone. I think part of it is a mindset. I think the average person would think it crazy if their massage therapist said, "Okay, I'm going to tickle your feet..." But she starts out with such relaxing strokes that, as I said, I have fallen asleep. The tickling, though only a word, she refers to as stimulation and I DO think alot of it is the developement of trust and giving in to the sensation rather than fighting it. Knowing that you can end it with a word changes the whole thing. Its much easier to give in to and be free to laugh.
I have gone in to the treatment a bundle of nerves, sometimes shaking from the stress, and walk out totally relaxed and relieved.