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13 August 2019

Raj Verdi, CNHC registered massage therapist writes about volunteering with Paul's Cancer Support...

I’ve been volunteering with Paul's Cancer Support Centre as a massage therapist on their Home Visiting Service (HVS) team for just over a year now. Paul’s is based in Clapham Junction and the charity offers a range of one-to-one touch and talk therapies as well as classes such as yoga and meditation to people with cancer and their carers. The HVS has been going since 1995 and volunteer massage therapists, reflexologists, counsellors and befrienders provide free support to people with cancer who may be house bound for any reason. We often work with people who are at the end of life and who are at their most vulnerable, and we can support carers and family members too. Living with cancer can be such an isolating experience and the HVS is so important in the way it reaches out to people. 

Over the past year, I have seen clients from all walks of life and the people I have visited are facing the most difficult challenges they are likely to have physically, spiritually, emotionally and practically. Their lives have been turned upside down with cancer related illness. Before joining the HVS, I had done adhoc community-based volunteering in the past, but I wanted to make more of a commitment to volunteering on a regular basis. I started my volunteer training with very little knowledge of hospice or charity work but with an open mind. The HVS course was brilliant at preparing me to do this work – with sessions about cancer and palliative care and discussions around boundaries, family dynamics and working in people’s homes. It also gave me the chance to get to know a really interesting group of therapists.

All the people I have seen through Paul's are so grateful to have had my massage sessions. It is truly humbling, and I feel honoured and grateful to have the opportunity to volunteer my skills. What I have learned from working with Paul's is they offer an unbelievable amount of care and compassion not only to people with cancer, but also to their families and carers. It’s so wonderful to be part of that. I’ve learned so much during my time so far volunteering with Paul’s and here are just 4 valuable lessons I would like to share:

1. You don’t need to be anything amazing to volunteer - You just need to be truly present with people and really want to do your best for them. When visiting a client, I don’t feel the pressure to start a 'fascinating' conversation. I just need to be present in a connected way with another human being.  To simply care. To massage or hold them if even for a short while. To let them know someone is there with them, there for them and that they can always call on Paul's for compassionate support.

2. We have so much to learn from each other - Every Paul’s client I’ve seen has been a remarkable encounter in its own unique way, and each encounter has enriched my life in its own exceptionally profound way. There is so much utility in being - truly ‘being’ with folks in their vulnerability.

3. When words fail, touch really matters - So many times we try to come up with the right magical words to say. Sometimes there are no words. That’s when the gift of touch comes to the fore. I recall one time visiting a patient who was very distraught, visibly upset and tearful. My instinct was to simply lean in. I gave her a gentle hug and just held her hand in silence. We all have moments when we are paralysed by fear. In moments like that our touch speaks what our words can never say.

4. Joy can be found anywhere - Even in the most difficult of times there are still joy, love and laughter to be found. It is truly humbling to be in the presence of people where fear is outshone by nobility and courage. It is a tremendous leveller - so many things to which we attach importance are not really important.  What I've learned from my encounters with clients at Paul's is that what we all do matters. The little things are big things. You never know how big a difference you’ll make by the smallest gesture. So, we should never hesitate to extend even the smallest gesture of kindness. You can’t know how much it may mean to others.

Volunteer in your local community with the Home Visiting Service

Paul’s are currently recruiting for our next annual training course for massage therapists and reflexologists who would like to support people with cancer and their carers. Paul’s are seeking volunteers who can visit clients in their own homes to support people who are too unwell to travel to our Centre near Clapham Junction. We match volunteers with clients who live near to their own homes or workplaces and ask that you give an hour a week plus travel time. All volunteers do our free 9 session training course which starts on 5 October.

To find out more or to apply visit www.pauls.org.uk or email jessicam@paulscancersupport.org.uk or phone 020 7924 3924. We encourage you to apply by the second week of September to be sure to secure a place on the course.

Teresa Meekings, CNHC registered for three different disciplines, writes about the complementary therapy service she has piloted which is funded by Kensington and Chelsea CCG ...

The complementary therapy service which I started to develop in April 2016 forms one element of a social prescribing offer which, in turn sits within a larger Self Care programme. It is funded by West London CCG and aimed at delivering a more holistic approach to the health of older people with long-term conditions. The social prescribing offer is managed by the local voluntary sector support organisation, Kensington and Chelsea Social Council (KCSC) and includes around 9 community groups who offer a range of non-medical services, including massage therapy.

My complementary therapy service developed and was built into the social prescribing offer, partly because of my earlier work.  In December 2015 I was approached by Olivia from KCSC, who knew that I provided a reflexology service for carers in a neighbouring borough. Olivia told me that her organisation was working with West London CCG to set up a social prescribing service pilot.  She then introduced me to a local ‘disability organisation’ which would be one of several delivery partners and had its own small massage service.  

I had been using MYCaW to measure impact for a couple of years, so I had good evidence of the difference that complementary therapies could deliver and of the quality of service. There were clear advantages to a partnership on both sides, so I was subcontracted to deliver treatments from the disability organisation’s centre. Originally it was thought there would only be six clients per-year. Each client would be allowed to have six-hour long treatments. Clients needed to be over 65 and have two or more medical conditions to be referred. This however, created a problem. Most clients had mobility problems and could not get to the centre. As a solution, we negotiated to add home-based treatments to the offer.

The service took off slowly at first. I would sometimes see just three new clients a month. Even so, that was more than had been originally predicted. As GPs and social prescribing link workers became more familiar with the social prescribing system and the positive feedback from our clients, that changed. By December 2016 referral rates had doubled and continued rising for both centre and home-based referrals – so much so, that additional delivery sites were added for centre based referrals.   

It was obvious that more was needed. Direct discussion with the CCG commissioner led to another extension to the offer. This time, myself and my small team were contracted to deliver 30-minute onsite massage and reflexology sessions at two ‘integrated care centres’.  Alongside this, to provide long term sustainability, I set up a social enterprise - Community Massage London CIC.

We are now almost four years into the programme and have built an even stronger evidence base. We use patient activation measures (PAM) to monitor the progress of most clients. This looks at the knowledge, skills and confidence a person uses to manage their own health and care. PAM scores have the advantage of making it possible to put a cash value on service impact. Independent research, by Envoy Partnership, covering just under 300 clients referred in one year has shown our complementary therapy work creates a value to the local health-care system and patients at nearly three and a half time the cost of the therapies. In addition, we know from before/after treatment changes in Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing scores and from case studies that that we have a positive impact on mental wellbeing.  We also continue to use MYCaW for other CCG funded work, because it is both uncomplicated and focusses on the outcomes that are important to clients themselves.

It has been an exciting time. Being involved in social prescribing means we can see the benefit of our work daily. It has created the opportunity to put together a great team and made it possible to take on extra work and support the CCG in other ways.

There were several things which came together to make this possible. Through working with unpaid carers, I was in touch with the way that health and social care services were developing locally and had good connections with the local community sector. I already used MYCaW along with qualitative feedback to measure the impact of reflexology and massage, so I had evidence I could build into a business case. West London CCG, for its part, was willing to invest in social prescribing, knowing that it would lead to longer term efficiency and quality improvements. The CCG chair was an active member of the College of Medicine and the CCG commissioner was open to ideas and innovation. Perhaps most important I was comfortable working in partnership with a range of organisations.

What was accomplished was ground-breaking. Reflexology and Massage therapy has struggled to find a mainstream role in the NHS and build an evidence base. Social Prescribing was also quite new and unproven. That is changing now. Social prescribing schemes are being developed widely across the NHS.

Every Primary Care Network (a grouping of 30-50,000 patients) will have a social prescribing link-worker funded by NHS England. Those Primary Care networks may be managed across a whole CCG or Council to create a social prescribing system, but they will still need to form links with their local voluntary and community sector to put together a social prescribing offer. Long term, the intention is that savings this creates will be invested in the front-line offer, but currently that is up to individual CCG’s.

If you are interested in getting involved in social prescribing, some research will be needed to understand what is being developed locally.

  • You will need to understand whether front-line service delivery will be funded, and it is worthwhile getting involved.
  • There may already be something in place with an organisation like my own looking for additional therapists.
  • If there is not, identify a potential champion in the CCG, Primary Care Networks, or voluntary sector.
  • Consider partnering with a local voluntary sector organisation to add value to what they could offer.
  • If you have already set up an asset locked social enterprise, you might be able to get directly involved.  
  • Be ready to evidence the value of what you deliver, whether through case studies or formal measures.
  • Most of all, get your foot in the door and be prepared to start small if that is what it takes. You can be confident that your results will lead to growth.

For more information on the evaluation of outcomes research:

Link to the main overall report

Download the Envoy Partnership evaluation of outcomes research  

27 June 2019

Earle Abrahamson, CNHC registered Massage Therapist and Massage Therapy PSB member, writes about Gaining international recognition for Massage Therapy...

I have been an active member of The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL) for the past 11 years, using my scholarship to orchestrate change and improve practice. I firmly believe in transforming practices as simply opposed to doing things better – I am passionate about improving practices. 

The International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL) represents higher education academics who are passionate about researching their teaching practices. Last year they introduced a fellowship scheme to recognise academics who have had a sustained contribution to teaching excellence. Candidates were asked to produce a dossier outlining ways in which they have empowered communities, developed programs dedicated to mentorship and shown sustained engagement and leadership.

The application process was arduous, but it was fantastic to receive positive feedback and recognition. The competition was fierce and demanding, but I wanted to put myself out there to test the international waters. I felt this recognition would complement my work with respect to curriculum development and quality.

Nine academics from around the world won these prestigious fellowships which enables them to mentor, support and champion teaching and learning excellence. I was extremely honoured and pleased to learn that I was named as one of the recipients. Over the duration of the fellowship, myself and the eight other academics from around the world will be expected to build communities in the pursuit of knowledge and sharing.

My involvement with ISSoTL has enabled me to have meaningful conversations with the other members of the CNHC Massage Therapy Profession Specific Board (PSB) in reviewing the core curriculum and considering training standards.  I also serve as Chair of the Massage Training Institute (MTI) and Vice Chair of the General Council for Massage Therapies (GCMT).

I recognise the value of international collaboration and the importance of working with networks of colleagues to share best practice. As the field of complementary therapy moves into a more evidence-based focus, it becomes increasingly apparent that scholarship research and practice needs to connect across professional practice. This will promote a more professional alignment of complementary therapies with traditional medical practices, and I look forward to being part of this development.

23 May 2019

Katherine Creighton Crook, CNHC registered Massage Therapist and CNHC Local Champion, writes about getting Comfortable with Boundaries as a Therapist...

Monday morning, 8:30 am. An unknown number rings my mobile.

‘Hi, you do massage, right? Do you have any appointments today? I woke up and my neck is killing me. I’ve had to call out of work.’

‘Yes’, I replied, ‘I could see you today at 3:30’. (I started at 3:30 as I had my son with me until 2)

‘Can’t you do any earlier? My neck is killing me. I don’t know if I can wait that long – I’m desperate.’

Has this ever happened to you?
You’ve planned your schedule, set time for your practice admin,  maybe even included some leisure / rest time, and a client calls up, begging you to see them outside your scheduled hours because it’s an emergency.  

What would you do?
Almost all therapists would struggle saying no to a client in this situation. Why? Well, we want to help people. We feel guilty saying no. We need the money, or we don’t want to annoy and/or lose a potential client.

But, if we’re always putting ourselves out to help people, we’ll eventually burn out, or the quality of our service will suffer. Chronic stress or burnout could lead to leaving practice permanently. And none of us want that. Mental Health Awareness Week in May highlights the importance of looking after your state of mind, and setting and sticking to boundaries can help.

First you have to get comfortable with having boundaries – being okay with saying no, or not right now. Once that’s sorted, it’s much easier to kindly refuse offers.

But, you might be saying, how can I get comfortable saying no to a client who’s desperate and in pain? It feels so selfish?

Start by thinking about why you need boundaries…
1.    Without boundaries, you‘ll burn yourself out.
2.    If you’re burned out, you can’t provide a good service.
3.    Without boundaries, your clients won’t respect you or your services - which WILL lead to late cancellations and no-shows.

Remember, all these things can lead to burnout or low quality services. When you create and enforce boundaries, you’re telling yourself and your clients that your time is valuable and that you are committed to providing an excellent service.

The next time you find yourself in a situation like this, and start to feel guilty about your boundaries, try this approach:

  • Tell them that you have to check your schedule and get back to them.  
  • Ask yourself: if I accept this appointment, what am I giving up?
  • Look at your other commitments - will you be compromising them if you say yes to this?
  • Finally, take a deep breath and check with your gut. Are you happy / looking forward to making this exception? Or do you feel tight and/or heavy when you think of accepting this request?

Once you’ve gone through this process, your answer should be clear.

As practitioners, we’re quick to help our clients but often do it at the expense of ourselves. Remember you can only provide an excellent service if you have the energy and resources to do so.

Want to know what I did?
This was early on in my business, coming back from maternity leave, and I wanted to build my client base. I arranged childcare for an extra couple of hours and booked him for an early afternoon appointment.

And guess what? An hour before his scheduled appointment, he called. He’d seen his GP, who sent him to an osteopath at the clinic. Seeing me as well would be overtreating, so he had to cancel.

Let’s just say I learned from that experience.

Katherine is the founder & principal therapist of a clinic in East London. She also runs a free facebook group for therapists – Massage Mentor Free Therapist Group, open to any therapists who’d like additional support.

24 April 2019

Ignaty Dyakov, CNHC registered Reiki practitioner and CNHC Local Champion writes about his experience on a Meditation Retreat...

Meditation Retreat: is it worth it?
In light of World Meditation Day coming up on 15 May, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share my experience on a meditation retreat I attended in 2018. As a Reiki practitioner, I understand the importance of looking after my own health and wellbeing to be able to provide the best care for my clients. Last November I was blessed (possibly a strong word but I do feel like it) with the opportunity to be part of a five-day meditation retreat in Northern Thailand.

For a long time I had been thinking about going on a Vipassana meditation retreat. Reiki is Japanese for ‘universal life energy’ and can help bring about an improved sense of wellbeing and a positive feeling of spiritual renewal – of which principles of meditation can be incorporated and be of benefit. There are centres all around the world that offer ten-day long silence meditation programmes focused solely on meditation and allowing no distractions - no writing, no reading, no drawing, no talking. With so many restrictions, I had always felt overwhelmed and was not sure if I could immerse myself into that intense experience….

When I caught sight of a poster for a three-day meditation retreat in Pa Pae, I knew it was a chance not to be missed. This retreat would have one day to be spent in silence with time split between meditation and lectures. I would be meditating for four hours each day and attending lectures on different types of meditation and teachings – all delivered in English by a Thai scholar monk trained in medicine with the experience of living both in the East and the West. Meals and accommodation would be provided, offering an excellent opportunity to concentrate on what is most important – oneself.

However, at the end of November they announced they would be running a special longer retreat to celebrate the New Year and were also arranging their own Full Moon Lantern Festival. This festival would support international peace through meditation and by releasing hundreds of beautiful paper lanterns into the night sky. So I, and a cohort of ten others from around the world, arranged to stay in Pa Pae for five days to attend the retreat and help prepare for the festival – a treat and honour in its own right.

For me personally, this retreat was important in three aspects: I desperately needed ‘a reboot’; I wanted to learn more about the origins of Reiki; and I hoped to find new ways to meditate which could be incorporated into my life and would benefit my coaching and Reiki clients. I learned a lot during this time and since have had time to reflect on my experience – here is a summary of my main findings:

1.    Walking meditation is to be done slowly and mindfully, observing and feeling every step, every motion of every step, so that a 50 metre walk might take 20 minutes.
2.    Less is more: this principle is relevant in life, work, meditation, relationships, possessions, etc. Less effort, less overthinking, less formalisation will bring more freedom, more calmness, more positive results, more wealth, more health and harmony.
3.    Simplicity is key: simple meditation can be more powerful than sophisticated ones. You don’t need to download an app or watch a YouTube video - simple and spontaneous sessions can deliver wonderful results.
4.    Set aside time to be away from gadgets: it can make the everyday so much more relaxing, simple, full of quietness and joy. This simple act can help the mind experience more clarity.

We all know how important it is to restart computers from time to time and not just send them into sleep mode. This meditation retreat offered me an opportunity to reboot my whole system, but I hope you can take away some of my findings and incorporate meditation into your daily life through small steps.

21 March 2019

Ruth Farrow, CNHC registered Hypnotherapist writes about participating in research...

I have been registered with CNHC as a Hypnotherapist for the past 9 years and have loved to read the articles in the monthly newsletter. Back in 2015, I read an article from Bristol University requesting that complementary therapy practitioners who already collect clinical data take part in a research study. The research was going to be used to highlight the effectiveness of their particular therapy.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to have my clinical data analysed and put to use, so I approached the Bristol research team about my work for the NHS at Meir Primary Care Centre, who had funded me through the NHS Innovation Fund to deliver hypnotherapy as a clinical tool. The practice received a £2000 grant and they wanted to pilot the use of complementary therapy to provide support for patients dealing with anxiety, stress and low-level depression.

As part of this project, I was working for the surgery one day a week, seeing patients with a range of symptoms including anxiety, sleep problems, migraines, weight issues and those dealing with bereavement. The success of the service was evaluated using patient data, which I collected for the surgery. I provided them with Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment (GAD-7) and Patient health Questionnaire (PHQ9) scores, as well as patient feedback forms.

The research team were delighted to take up my offer for the project to showcase the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. I had already completed the pilot service at NHS Meir, having introduced GAD-7 as the assessment methodology, so relevant ready patient data available for them. In the follow-on project, PHQ9 assessment was introduced alongside GAD-7, providing a further detailed data set.

The Bristol team were great. They kept me in the loop from the initial email to them explaining the line of work I was undertaking within the NHS, to the final study results.  There were initially some detailed documents to complete about who and why the clients were attending, which were either sent via email or discussed over the phone with the surgery manager.  In reality, I did not have to do much more than this other than to complete the process by providing my evaluation results, and they did the rest.

The results of the service at NHS Meir were consistently positive and due to the success of the clinic, two other surgeries requested the service and I began working three days a week. It then expanded even further, and the Stoke-on-Trent CCG decided to extend the funding so I could work four days a week to provide the service across three GP surgeries. Unfortunately, due to moving to another area of the country to take up a family caring role I had to leave the service, as I could not juggle both. I am now back in practice again in Nottinghamshire and have just started to work in partnership with a community charity based in Doncaster.

I believe it is very important to not only collect but also evaluate data for complementary therapies.

As practitioners, we readily see our client’s results, but it is essential to have valid clinical data in order to demonstrate impact to a wider audience. This will allow us to enable those within the medical sector and in the public realm to regard complementary therapies as a genuinely effective tool that delivers positive outcomes for overall health and mental wellbeing.

20 February 2019

Georgia Riley, CNHC registered Hypnotherapist and CNHC Local Champion writes about her journey to becoming a Hypnotherapist...

Here is a brief account of how a six month hiatus turned into building a successful business as a hypnotherapist. It all started while I was writing my dissertation for my degree in 2018…and I began to panic. However, not the usual panic of an individual with perfectionist traits mid-way through their final year of university. No, this was the onset of panic when I realised that I was going to have 6 months off soon, before continuing onto a master’s degree. I wanted to maximize this time off, and kept thinking - what I could do to better myself during this time? 6 months is too much precious time to waste. And so, the google searches began.

Before I knew it, I had opened the lines of communication with several training programs. I was then booked in for an online interview with a hypnotherapy training centre in Manchester. After my interview with two wonderful lecturers and a great deal of research into the course, I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I fell in love with the concept and values of this therapy. In February 2018, I began my hypnotherapy training and started my journey onto what has become a truly life changing experience.

Following my university graduation in July, I was already half way through my hypnotherapy training with a registered business, seeing only 12 weekly clients (for free) under regular supervision. I then found myself in a situation where I had to think long and hard about my options… and it was then that I made my decision to become a hypnotherapist fulltime.

It was through the training centre that I came across the CNHC and the importance of becoming a registrant to be recognised as a practitioner that stands up for standards in the industry. I then stepped out in the big wide world of business and I have absolutely no regrets. The endless hours of hard work, the money, the sacrifices have paid off and I love it!

I continued to use every spare minute wisely to promote my new venture. I joined the CNHC’s Local Champion’s programme and I have been busy walking the streets hand delivering invitations, leaflets, posters, pens, etc. I have taken the time to approach and talk to other businesses, schools, advertising agencies, newspapers, cafes, doctors and local people. And I have been successful approaching a local newspaper as they recently published an article about my work with CNHC as a Local Champion.  Though it was a pity they misspelt complementary in the headline!

I currently run one-to-one sessions, wellbeing groups and provide talks for many different establishments from my local council, to schools and to the local rugby team. These talks and workshops involve teaching about the brain and how to use our mind to the fullest benefit to live a positive and happy life.  My recommendation to anyone thinking about their career is to not wait for it to find you, find something you are passionate about and go out and make yourself a success!

23 January 2019

Jonathan Sarson, CNHC registered Reflexologist, Massage Therapist and Aromatherapist discusses the role of Complementary Therapists on the Cancer Unit of two hospitals in North Wales...

During my interview to become an Oncology Therapist at Ysbyty Gwynedd (Bangor Hospital) and Ysbyty Glad Clwyd (Glan Clwyd Hospital), I was asked to present a talk discussing the role of Complementary Therapies on Oncology wards. Following a successful interview, I have been working with a team of three therapists for a year now to deliver the complementary therapy service on the hospital Oncology Wards.

Our costs are paid for through charitable funds, and there are plans to expand the service to Wrexham Hospital as well.

My research into this and my subsequent time on the wards has shown me how much we can help patients and why many of the leading Cancer Treatment Centres have established Complementary Therapy teams. As therapists, we strive to make our patients lives healthier, happier and pain free and it's a real honour to be involved with people at such a critical time in their lives.

How can complementary therapies benefit cancer patients? Many patients experience side effects of treatment such as vomiting, nausea, scar tissue formation and constipation. Complementary therapy treatments can help improve these side effects in some patients and can also help improve quality of sleep.

Emotionally, complementary therapies can help reduce the distress of diagnosis by increasing relaxation, reducing pain and improving quality of life. We provide a safe space to talk and patients don’t need to put on a brave face with us, as they may feel the need to with their family. Plus, we have more time with each patient so we can fully to listen to their concerns. After a cancer diagnosis, everyone tries to care for the sufferer by telling them what to do, whether that be attending appointments or being told what to eat – so choosing a complementary therapy gives a bit of control back to them.

While chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments seek to destroy cancer cells, they destroy good cells as well and that unfortunately causes unpleasant side effects. Complementary therapies allow patients to feel that they are helping their own body and energy systems rebuild and reminds them that they have a role to play in looking after themselves. We also get to know patients’ true feelings which puts us in a great position to signpost them to other services to further improve their quality of life.

We can inspire hope. A cancer diagnosis can be shocking and disrupt people’s life plans, but complementary therapies can be a positive experience for people following their diagnosis. It can also inspire people to search for positive experiences, regardless of their prognosis. Cancer treatment often causes scarring, weight and hair loss often making it difficult to stay self-assured, but we can help people to regain this confidence.

We also do our best to inform and work with other members of NHS staff about our service, as some have had no experience of it and worry about possible contraindications. We inform them about the level of our knowledge and the benefits that their patients may get, so that they feel confident to refer their patients to us for support.

Complementary therapies are starting to become an integral part of a patient’s treatment plan, allowing the Cancer Treatment Centres to provide treatment to for their mind, body and soul.

22 October 2018

Garry Coles, a CNHC registered Hypnotherapist and member of the CNHC Profession Specific Board (PSB) for Hypnotherapy, writes about his experience working in an NHS Oncology Unit...

I’ve being working with the Foundation Centre charity, volunteering once a week in an NHS Oncology Unit at the Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Trust for over thirteen years. I started volunteering when I was new to hypnotherapy in order to gain experience – and I have never left! Helping patients through their cancer journey is not for everyone however. The environment can be tough, especially when you lose patients you have built relationships with, but it can also be very rewarding.

While working on the NHS Oncology Unit, I get to support the patient through all aspects of their cancer journey - from diagnosis, to fears, phobias and anxieties, pre and post-surgery, treatment side effects, their recovery and much more. I am also involved with patients who are going through palliative elements and end of life care.

To me, over the years, this was just ‘something I did, to give something back, because I could’. I am a hypnotherapist with a scientific and academic background so can’t say I believe in concepts such as karma, but then again….?

Over the years I have learned a lot about cancer and cancer treatments as the hospital enrolled me on many specialist courses. The courses covered aspects of the full cancer patient journey, including overviews of cancer development and treatments, oncology emergencies, survivorship and life after treatment. While studying for an MSc in Clinical Hypnotherapy, I was fortunate enough to become embedded in the Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team, enabling me to carry out research into the use of presurgical hypnosis.

The Breast Cancer Multidisciplinary Team is a specialist team at the NHS Oncology Unit consisting of surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, oncologists, radiographer, chemotherapy and breast care nurses. Collectively, they look at test results and formulate treatment plans for each patient. I was invited to join the team as part of my research and attended clinical discussions to ascertain patients who would be suitable for my hypnotherapy research.

My research focused on ‘Presurgical hypnosis and its effects in the recovery quality in wide area excision breast cancer operations’. It consisted of patients completing a gold standard psychological profiling questionnaire (SF-36) on the morning of surgery. Software scoring was then used to formulate a psychological profile and compare against the ‘population norm’. When patients were deduced psychologically as being ‘borderline’ depressive, an intervention group were given scripted hypnosis right before surgery. This hypnotic session gave suggestions for relaxation, pain control, healing, wellbeing amongst other things.

Seven days after surgery the patients completed the same SF-36 profiling questionnaire. They also completed a pain scoring profile with some additional questions. The results were processed with the same scoring software and were subject to additional statistical analysis. The intervention group was compared to a control group and also to previous research carried out around the world. The control group were still scoring psychologically as ‘borderline’ depressive, whereas the hypnosis intervention group had improved compared to ‘population norm’ in most psychological categories. Additionally, the hypnotherapy group indicated that they were perceiving less pain. Further research indicated that in addition to patients perceiving less pain, the intervention group were generally prescribed lower dosages of pain relief medication.

From my research and experience I was able to devise treatment protocols, hypnotherapy scripts and techniques that were best suited to working with cancer patients. Since my research concluded, I have been invited to present masterclasses on my protocols and techniques and speak at conferences and speaking engagements around the world to share my knowledge of working with cancer patients.

This volunteer role has given me so much and makes me question - does karma exist? Is this it in action? I have absolutely no idea, all I know is that ‘just giving something back’ has had profound positive consequences for me!

19 November 2018

Adrian Martins, a CNHC registered Massage Therapist, writes about his experience working at the Terrence Higgins Trust as their Complementary Therapy Coordinator...

As a young and fresh-faced Massage Therapy graduate (15 years ago, eek!) I always knew I wanted to support people living with HIV. I grew up in a part of Canada with little exposure to people living with HIV. As a young teenager, I heard the stories of how HIV and AIDS was affecting the gay community and always thought to myself ‘what could I do to help make a positive difference in their lives?’.

As I grew older and eventually became part of the LGBTQ community, I have met many good friends and acquaintances living with HIV. I saw first hand how they were being affected by the harsh medications of the time. In response to this I decided to volunteer as a Massage Therapist with The AIDS Committee of Toronto in the hope of helping others integrate complementary therapies into their care regime. I wanted to help and support them to maintain their health in ways that go beyond addressing only the physical impact of living with HIV. Little did I know how the positive impact of volunteering at the AIDS Committee of Toronto would propel me into a career in the HIV sector as a Complementary Therapist.

In 2017, I moved to London where I was lucky enough to get a position as the Complementary Therapies Coordinator and Massage Therapist at Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity. I am extremely lucky to work with a team of staff and volunteers that put their heart and soul into every bit of work they do there.

In my role at Terrence Higgins Trust, I coordinate the provision of high quality, caring, and professional complementary therapy services for people living with HIV. I also treat service users as a certified and CNHC registered Massage Therapist, and prefer for new therapists we employ to be registered with CNHC.

The charity offers a range of therapies provided by fully certified and insured volunteer therapists including Massage Therapy, Hypnotherapy and Shiatsu Therapy both at a low-cost fee, and free for those experiencing financial hardships.

Today, although HIV can be managed effectively with medication and regular check-ups, many people living with HIV seek out complementary therapies in their efforts to stay healthy, boost their immune system, prevent illness, and delay the onset of HIV-related conditions. They can also help with relaxation and ease tensions that are emotional as well as physical. Many complementary therapies have an immediate appeal because they emphasise a holistic approach to health, and provide wellness regimens that aren’t offered as a part of standard HIV treatment protocol.

Click here for more information about the Complementary therapy service at Terrence Higgins Trust

18 September 2018

Tracey Taylor, a CNHC registered Massage Therapist, writes about Charity Treatments for Cancer Clients in their Own Homes...

Circle of Comfort is a registered Scottish charity which offers complementary therapies to people in Fife and Perthshire who have been diagnosed with cancer or another life limiting illness. Clients are given massage, aromatherapy or reflexology treatments in their own home, or in hospital, free of charge, by one of the fully qualified therapists, of which I was one.  Any Healthcare provider can refer a patient for this unique care and patients can also self-refer.  

The Charity has proven to be successful with all patients who have used the service as they felt it beneficial to them. As part of her private practice, Roseann Haig treated clients with various cancer diagnoses and was also a volunteer therapist at the hospice in the Queen Margaret Hospital, Dunfermline. During her time there, she saw first-hand the benefits that complementary therapies can provide to cancer patients. Roseann was deeply inspired by what she experienced, so she established Circle of Comfort in 2007.

There are several therapists throughout Fife and Perthshire offering treatments to clients who have reached out to the charity since its inception. It has been a humbling but rewarding experience as I heard about people’s lives before, during and after treatment. This experience opened my eyes to the many benefits of massage therapy and it reminded me of why I chose this line of work.

Patients with cancer may feel many benefits after a massage treatment, which could include:

  • Deep relaxation
  • Improved sleep
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Less nausea
  • Reduced pain
  • Feel more alert and have more mental clarity

Here are some testimonials from cancer patients who received therapy through the charity

I have been so inspired to learn much more about this kind of care, that I enrolled in the Start with Touch Oncology Massage Course. I am pleased to say that I have passed Levels 1 & 2 and am commencing the case studies for Level 3 now.  Soon I will be a fully qualified Cancer Massage therapist - and I am so excited!

13 August 2018

Shuna Watkinson, a CNHC registered Healing Practitioner, writes about providing Healing within the NHS...

I feel very fortunate to be a paid Healer in the NHS for the past 8 years. I am the Complementary Therapy Coordinator at the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust which covers three hospitals - one large general hospital in Stevenage and two smaller hospitals which are mainly for outpatients and diagnostics.

How I found myself here is a long story, but the Sam Buxton Sunflower Healing Trust played a key role throughout. Back in 2008 I completed their "Healing in Hospitals" course which directly led to an opportunity at the Trust. Since this NHS post was set up, the Charity has been a constant support both financially and with wisdom!

I am now funded by the Respiratory and Endoscopy departments at The Trust, holding a part-time post fully integrated within the clinical team. I am extremely grateful to my colleagues, especially Patricia Swann the Lung Cancer Nurse, who has done and continues to do so much to promote the service. To quote Patricia: "if it's good for our patients, we want it"!

Our complementary therapy team is made up of four excellent volunteer therapists. This allows us to cover a large number of areas and departments within the Trust while offering therapy to patients, carers and staff. We can be found in clinics, wards, the Macmillan chemotherapy centre and in endoscopy.

We often work on a "first aid" basis - catching people when they're at their most vulnerable, offering our services to people as needed in wards and clinics, and through staff referrals. It's wonderful being a trusted part of the team, with all of us working together for the best possible outcome.

A consultant once mentioned to me "it's made a huge difference to the level of anxiety of my patient". It is delightful to hear outcomes like this, and it encourages consultants and other staff to actively promote the service. When patients are more relaxed it is more pleasant for staff too - everyone's happy!

Patients who have received complementary therapy services say things like "I haven't been that relaxed since my diagnosis" or "since I saw you my pain has virtually gone" or just a slightly surprised but heartfelt "thank you!". Hearing feedback like this is incredible and I am so thankful to be able to provide these services to patients within the NHS.

Shuna Watkinson (second from the right) and the Endoscopy Team at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust

26 July 2018

Fiona Hutchinson, a CNHC registered Massage Therapist and CNHC Local Champion, writes about what she learned after relocating her practice across the country...

In the summer of 2016 I relocated to Harrogate, Yorkshire from North London. This was not only a big move for my family, but for my practice as well - and I knew nobody there!  Normally word of mouth is an excellent way of getting new clients, but it doesn’t work if you don’t know a single person in your town…so I quickly realised I had to get out there and market myself effectively.  

I don’t have a marketing background, so I focused on learning tactics I could implement without much training. I tried various strategies and found that networking was an easy, low-cost way to build connections, get new clients, referrals and to even make friends! I recommend trying a few different groups to find the right one for you. There are various sites you can use to find local networking groups and events such as MeetUp and Eventbrite.

I also wanted to build up my online presence, so I had a go at trialing Facebook adverts. The adverts eventually did drive new clients, but before I really saw traction I needed to figure out my target audience / client base, so I could effectively target my ads.

Being active on social media is great for awareness, although it can take a lot of time. To have the most impact I suggest you pick one or two platforms you enjoy using, rather than diluting your efforts between many of them. There are also services you can use like Hootsuite to manage, follow and post across several social media platforms for free.

As I started to grow my client base, I wanted to make use of their positive testimonials, so I started asking them for reviews. Online reviews help drive traffic to your website and are now a standard part of the customer decision journey. Google reviews are great for helping with website visibility, plus they help improve organic SEO rankings.

Below are some resources I found particularly helpful:

  • CNHC and Massage Training Institute for advice and support
  • Canva for free graphics software
  • Local business enterprise centres

I’m still learning about marketing, but it’s turned from a chore to an enjoyable part of my job. I hope you find these tips useful, especially if you are thinking about or are in the process of moving yourself.

Fiona presenting at a Women in Business networking event

5 June 2018

Mariella Stewart, a CNHC registered Hypnotherapist, writes about her work with diabetic patients and the important role that complementary practitioners play in influencing the nation’s health...

The challenges facing the nation’s health today remain deep rooted and severe, and improving it is going to be essential to reducing the burden on our healthcare system.  According to Public Health England, if current trends continue, 1 in 3 people will be obese and 1 in 10 will develop Type 2 Diabetes by 2034.  Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes accounts for nearly 9% of the annual NHS budget, which accounts for £8.8 million a year.  As complementary health practitioners, we are well placed to have healthy conversations with our clients and positively influence their health and wellbeing – as highlighted in the RSPH / PSA report ‘Untapped Resources: Accredited Registers in the Wider Workforce’.

In my work as a Hypnotherapist, I have come across many clients with persistent health problems, including Type 2 Diabetes.  I have held many important conversations about overall health and wellbeing over the years, but there is more that can be done.  By taking the time to encourage our clients to consider positive changes to their lifestyle and health overall, we can all play a larger role in helping improve the health of the nation.

When discussing the management of diabetes or other long-term conditions, you must always liaise with the patient’s GP, diabetic nurse or other health professional, to ensure properly integrated treatment and care for the patient.  

Many people with Type 2 Diabetes are able to manage their condition through a variety of methods such as reducing excess weight, changing their diet, embarking on daily exercise, managing stress and minimising alcohol intake.  Hypnotherapy may help with these positive changes in a variety of ways, including learning the art of deep relaxation or teaching someone self –hypnosis, which enables them to reach a calm, relaxed state relatively quickly. Recordings of the ‘live’ hypnotherapy sessions given to the client to relax with at home have proven very popular and extremely helpful.

For patients looking to make changes to their amount of physical activity, a personalised targeted treatment plan is important to help someone embark on an exercise regime when they haven’t exercised for years.  For many clients, boosting their confidence and self-belief can help them feel they want to help themselves, and understand that they have the most to gain when investing time and effort into their health.  Finding the motivation and feeling the motivation one needs to make those changes is very important and feeling positive with an increased sense of confidence and self -belief is a recipe for success.    

Comments such as: “I feel pleasantly surprised at how calm and comfortable I feel, making the changes I needed to make to improve my health” are frequently heard.  The fact the client is feeling positive with an increased sense of confidence and self -belief is a recipe for success.    

Mariella Stewart, CNHC registered Hypnotherapist

9 May 2018

Anne-Lise Miller, a CNHC registrant, writes about the journey of adding a new therapy onto the CNHC Register...

Many of you may have been wondering what steps to take in order to add a new therapy onto the CNHC register. This blog covers the work done by CNHC, the Colon Hydrotherapy industry, myself and many others who worked tirelessly over the last two years to get Colon Hydrotherapy added as a new category on the CNHC register.

For those who are unfamiliar with Colonic Irrigation, it is a procedure with a long history of established traditions – like many other complementary therapies. Dating back to the 3rd century AD, the Colon has been regarded traditionally as both an organ that benefits from regular purging and a gateway for heightened awareness. Despite its long history, Colonic Hydrotherapy as we know it today is a relatively new therapy. It developed into an established complementary health practice in the UK largely through the work of The Association and Register of Colon Hydrotherapy (ARCH).

ARCH aims to promote colonic hydrotherapy as a safe therapeutic process, not just a bowel cleansing procedure. Prior to Colon Hydrotherapy being added to the CNHC register is its own right, it was incorporated on the register under Naturopathy.  Following discussions between CNHC and the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, CNHC agreed to start the process of adding Colon Hydrotherapy as a new category on the CNHC register.

If you have enquired about how you go about getting a new category onto the CNHC register, you will know there is a rigorous process and certain criteria that must be met before consideration.  Most importantly, that each category must have specific National Occupational Standards (NOS) that are developed in conjunction with the Sector Skills Council, Skills for Health.  At the start, Colon Hydrotherapy did not have a distinct set of National Occupational Standards, so this required a significant financial investment from the industry to fund the necessary involvement of Skills for Health, and time commitment from CNHC and the Colon Hydrotherapy PSB members.

Once the NOS were established, CNHC then required a Core Curriculum.  This is separate and distinct from a detailed course syllabus, in that it specifies, for example, the ratio of theory and practice and the number of hours of face to face teaching and assessment needed to ensure the safety of the public. The work for the Colon Hydrotherapy Core Curriculum was structured by the CNHC and then consulted with and approved by the Professional Board Specific (PSB) appointed representatives - Angela Beasor, Linda Ternent, Victoria Cooper and myself - after thorough consultation with the rest of the industry.

Overall, the process took over two years with a considerable investment in time and money. Achieving a specific entry on the CNHC register means that Colonic Hydrotherapy exists on its own merit. This will undoubtedly raise the profile and awareness of the treatment, and it will also give it a nourishing space from which to grow and develop in tune with research and the needs of health care providers.

Anne-Lise Miller, CNHC registrant and Colon Hydrotherapy Profession Specific Board (PSB) Member

4 April 2018

Janice Barclay, a CNHC registered Hypnotherapist, writes about the Kool to be Kind Initiative in Primary Schools...

Kids participating in the Kool to be Kind Initiative

I have been practising Hypnotherapy since 2015 and Meditation for over 10 years, but it wasn’t until May 2017 that I started offering classes in my local village hall, which led to a wonderful opportunity to help school children in the local community.  Following one of my classes, I was contacted by the local radio station Moray Firth Radio on behalf of their charity Cash for Kids.  They asked if I would be interested in going around to schools to support a new programme called ‘Kool to be Kind’.  This initiative was designed to help children learn coping strategies if they got angry or frustrated at home or at school.  

For the Kool to be Kind initiative we visited 3 local primary schools who were willing and eager to participate.  We scheduled dates to visit and had a full day at one of the schools, working with 5 groups of children in their classrooms for 20 minute sessions.  To engage with the children, I started by asking them what they would do to be kind to someone, and while answering they got to cuddle a Care Bear.   I then taught them about hypnotic anchors, so that if they ever felt insecure all they needed to do was take a deep breath and blow out their frustrations and the lovely feeling of calm would return to them. The sessions were a great success and I received many positive responses from the children and their teachers.

I felt it was important to work on the Kool to be Kind initiative, so these children may be less likely to get angry or stressed as they grew up, which is why I offered my services free of charge.  Whilst my time was on a voluntary basis initially, my involvement in Kool to be Kind has led to paid opportunities and new clients.

Following the Easter holidays, I will start working with Central Primary School where I am leading a case study of a group of 6 children and a teacher.  It will be a group activity which will aim to see how effective different meditation styles work on the children, and we will be encouraging them to help and support each other. Their teacher and I will then record and discuss any change in their attitude before and after.  My fees have been funded by a local business man who donated money to the school.  And just recently Moray Firth Radio Station has contacted me about collaborating with them again, and this time funding would be offered to me through their charity Cash For Kids.  

My registration with CNHC gave confidence to the charity, teachers and radio station for these initiatives, and I very much look forward to working on more activities like these for the community.

8 March 2018

Vidhi Sodhi, a CNHC registered Yoga Therapist and Yoga Therapy Profession Specific Board member, writes about the Yoga Therapy Service Evaluation at the London North West NHS Trust...

Vidhi, centre, with Imperial Medical students involved in the study

I recently collaborated with a leading Rheumatologist to design a service evaluation of Yoga-Therapy for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) at the Central Middlesex Hospital, part of the London North West NHS Foundation Trust.   This was a very exciting undertaking, as from my understanding, this was the first time that a one-to-one Yoga Therapy was delivered in an NHS hospital setting.  My registration with CNHC gave confidence to the Rheumatologist, Rheumatology staff, and patients to participate in this service evaluation.  

The study examined the impact of Yoga Therapy on improving a patient’s quality of life, through management of stress and other comorbidities such as anxiety & depression.  We developed the objectives for the study based on feedback from a patient support group at Central Middlesex Hospital.  These patients expressed a need for Mind-Body interventions in the management of their long-term conditions (LTC), such as Yoga Therapy.

Yoga Therapy sessions were funded by the NHS and held in the Rheumatology department of the Central Middlesex Hospital.  Patients received one-to-one sessions on a weekly basis initially, and then on a bi-weekly basis.  Each session comprised of tools that are offered within yoga and are applied and tailored to the needs of each participant.

The results have been outstanding with improvements in all the study objectives.  Verbal feedback in the form of semi-structured interviews is captured by the researchers at the University of Westminster and is being currently analysed for a full report. A post study meeting with the CMH patient group was held where the results were discussed and further need of this service to be an integral part of our healthcare system was discussed.  

The success of this pilot service evaluation can offer a holistic, integrated form of treatment that matches with the NHS’s Five Year Forward View and I hope it can offer a guide for secondary rollout to other clinics responsible for management of LTCs.

Feedback from a patient involved in the study:
“Since starting yoga therapy in May, my overall health is a lot better compared to before the yoga therapy. My pain levels have improved, being from regular pain to minimal pain. Over the course of the yoga therapy the movement in right wrist is far more than what it was before.  The exercises that she tailored to suit me have been really good and easy to follow. She has always been accommodating with regards to times of the sessions and has worked around me.  Yoga Therapy has helped me relax and remain calmer; my mind is less active and doesn't feel overworked. I feel Yoga Therapy should be an integrated service offered to assist patients as it has been beneficial to me.”

Vidhi after receiving second place in the ‘Inspiration Award’ from Holistic Therapist Magazine

27 September 2017

"Why I love my Job"

Ana M Angarita, CNHC registered
Complementary Therapist- MacMillan Centre

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

“Would I want to work in a hospital?” - That was the first question that crossed my mind when I initially thought about volunteering as a complementary therapist.

I thought long and hard about it and then decided to apply for a volunteering vacancy with the Macmillan Centre in Chelsea and Westminster Hospital which I saw advertised in the CNHC website.

Working as a volunteer is very rewarding. I help the patients live with cancer by trying to improve their quality of life and wellbeing.

There is no typical day as a complementary therapist volunteer. Every day is different. I work with the patients, their family members and their carers. My work is based either in the wards or in the Macmillan Centre therapy room.

Each patient is unique. Each patient is important to me. There are more smiles and laughs than you think!

You get to know the patients and work alongside the medical team. What matters here is seeing the patient as a whole.

Seeing satisfied patients, carers and family is so rewarding! Nice compliments give you the energy and motivation to come back week after week.

Hospitals are not as cold and clinical as some people think. They are full of human stories, they are busy places where there is always something happening.

At the end of a busy day, I leave with a sense of achievement. It’s like when you set yourself a personal goal at the gym and then after a lot of hard work and determination, you see the results.

The experience I’ve gained is invaluable. Each patient has taught me a lot and each patient is an inspiration to me.

Not only do you learn about other people’s life journeys but you learn about yourself.

I also work in the private sector but nothing compares to the sense of fulfilment of helping somebody facing cancer.

I’m a volunteer and I’m not here for money. I am here because I want to be here.

Now, I know that I love hospitals. I love Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and I love volunteering.

4 December 2017

Karen Shields, a CNHC registered nutritional therapist, writes about how she teaches healthy eating life skills to a class of learning disabled individuals in Hertfordshire...

Me on the left and with Liz McElroy, horticultural therapist

I qualified as a nutritional therapist in 2012 and joined CNHC that year and began practising at my own clinic. In June 2016 I started volunteering (in my capacity as a nutritional therapist) at the Triangle Community Garden in Hitchin.

Their Growing Health group is a guided-support group set up to help its learning disabled members to lead healthier, more active lives. Activities include walking, sport, cooking and learning about healthy eating. The group meets every Tuesday morning for three hours at the pavilion at Ransom's recreation ground.

Many of the members suffer with obesity or conditions such as type 2 diabetes, so every week we try to help them understand what sort of foods they should include in their diets that will help them balance their blood sugar levels. We also discuss nutrition related news such as the sugar tax or low fat versus high fat diets, and we look at food labelling and educate them about products that are not as healthy as they seem.

Initially, our kitchen equipment was sparse and so when demonstrating how to cook we were limited in our range of menus as we only had a kettle and a microwave.  Luckily we were awarded some funding - £450 - and have been able to buy a variety of kitchen equipment, namely two induction hobs, chopping boards, knives, pots and pans.

We also bring in education in health and safety in the kitchen, as well as food hygiene. This has helped our participants learn how to read food labels and the relevance of best before and sell by dates on packaging, including how to store foods correctly.

Our three hour group consists of about 10 gardeners - we split the group into two with half going off to the allotment to tend to the crops with our gardener and support worker, and the other half in the kitchen with myself and the horticultural therapist to prepare lunch according to the seasonal recipe that we have planned the week before.

Ingredients: spring onions, cucumber, feta, cherry tomatoes, carrots, basil and lemon and cauliflower

We have taught the group how to use tools safely for preparing and cooking  - something that we may take for granted but is actually quite a challenge for them. The group has made a range of meals from chickpea and chilli cakes, cottage pie with lentils and sweet potato, stir fry vegetables with noodles, tomato and basil bruschetta with homemade pesto, salad Niçoise, parsnip and carrot rösti served with poached eggs, and falafels made three ways with spinach and feta, chick peas and sweet potato.

Tricolore cauliflower rice salad

The outcome of this programme has been to show the members how to cook and prepare ingredients in order to take control of their own diets. We also discuss a concept known as "from farm to fork" - a direct link between cooking, eating and growing vegetables which helps the group reconnect with where food comes from and helping them to develop a healthier diet. Recognising what and where the ingredients in our food comes from can make us appreciate and enjoy food and will hopefully lead to better, healthier choices when choosing what to eat in the future.

Courgettes growing in the Triangle Community Garden

Every week we ask the members to offer feedback on what they have prepared, cooked and eaten - and each week we have seen positive feedback about foods that they thought they did not like or perhaps have never even tried. A case in point was with our salad Nicoise - everyone enjoyed the flavours - including the anchovies - and they all agreed that when they next visited Pizza Express they would order this as it is a healthier option. This is definitely progress.

Each week the members continue to lose weight and work towards their goals by adopting healthier lifestyles based on what they have learned in the group. We have also experienced a change in mood and behaviour in the individuals themselves - in some cases from a state of anxiety to a state of calm and happiness.

As a nutritional therapist it has been eye opening to see the local community come together to support one another to improve their health. The Triangle Garden is really a superb local community facility and is making a huge difference to people's lives in North Hertfordshire. It has also allowed me to learn new skills, by working with a different demographic and giving me the experience and confidence of working in a group. It has also exposed me to extra training in safeguarding adults, food safety and hygiene.

My only wish would be that the NHS saw our progress with these individuals and made use of it by referring further individuals to the group, which would increase our funding and enable us to provide more facilities to a wider community.

12 December 2017

Rosemary Pharo, a CNHC registered Aromatherapist, writes about her experience supporting Grenfell Tower residents by providing Aromatherapy...

It is another day in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower fire.

Another local resident is sitting talking to the Complementary Support Teams UK (CST-UK) therapists. The resident is talking about an inability to sleep, memories of helplessly watching the tower burn, the anxiety, having to be signed off work, the difficulties with accommodation. “Overwhelm” is taking over.

Yet less than an hour later this resident is calm and beginning to have more control over their thoughts. Their body language is calmer. Their breathing has changed.

So what happened? The first step was to offer specific essential oils in a particular order to inhale. Essential oils are already being routinely offered via inhalation in some cancer centres as a way of combatting side effects of treatment and as anti-anxiety measures. Once calmer, the resident could be offered a one-to-one treatment by one of the multi-skilled team. Dignity, choice and respect are key words for local residents.

Mention aromatherapy and most people will probably think of a massage with candles in a pleasantly dark room.  However professional aromatherapists are taught to use a wider variety of methods to deliver the benefits.

This is why the survivors and residents of North Kensington who are taking up the services provided by CST-UK’s experienced therapists are finding the aromatherapy offered so helpful.

It doesn't require talking, which can potentially trigger painful memories. It does act directly on the body’s primitive fear response systems, which can loop into an unending nightmare.

Some of the local volunteers who are working tirelessly to support residents have been given standard, pre-made trauma support inhaler sticks. They can now hand out what is a helpful first aid response to residents who are struggling to get through the dark days and nights. The inhalers or ‘sniffy sticks’ are a low cost (£2-3 each) and empowering self-help tool that we would love to be able to get out to even more people.

It was through one of my friends that I got involved with helping people around Grenfell who had been affected. There is so much work to do. Our vision as a group is to offer a multi-disciplinary complementary therapy service with trauma specialists of many kinds working as an integrated team and referring to a wide variety of therapies, depending on what is appropriate to the residents around Grenfell as their needs change. Because the after-effects of the worst peacetime disaster in recent times are not going to go away any time soon. That’s why our wish is to have a dedicated base where local residents can receive therapies they choose any day of the week from a team of experienced professional therapists.

You can learn more about what we are doing as a team by going to our Facebook page or our website

Rosemary Pharo, CNHC registrant and Aromatherapy Profession Specific Board (PSB) Member

1 February 2018

Mike Murphy, CNHC registrant, tells us about training he provided to Therapists at the Merlin Multiple Sclerosis Centre in Cornwall...

I was recently approached by a private client, Melissa King, a high performance Triathlete and the Lead Neurological Physiotherapist at the Merlin MS Centre, about a training opportunity.  Melissa was looking to collaborate with a local therapist with specialist skills to provide further training for the Centre’s therapists.

A wide range of patients visit the Centre on a regular basis, many with Multiple Sclerosis and other long-term conditions.  Many have limited mobility and Melissa wanted the Centre to be able to provide more support to these clients.  I devised a programme including a mix of theoretical and practical ‘hands-on’ training to specifically aid those with mobility limitations.   

On 7th December 2017, I delivered a full day of training to a group of 6 staff including a Neurological Physiotherapist, Melissa King, and several Therapy Assistants including Ash Smith, Sam Williams, Jackie Baigent, Kerry Barrett and Ali Lochri.  I taught safety considerations and contraindications to treatments.  I then focused on Manual Therapy and Massage approaches to address musculoskeletal imbalances caused through incorrect posture for MS and post-stroke patients.  Knowing that many patients are often in wheelchairs, I also included methods for adapting these treatments for seated patients.  

(The photo above shows me observing taught techniques)

It was a real pleasure to be able to offer advice on the beneficial effects and the differing approaches to massage/manual therapies for these patients.  Melissa and her team were excited following the training and said they couldn’t wait to start putting the new skills they learned into practice.  

When we all work together, we can share knowledge to benefit patients and the public.  I am so pleased that the skills and approaches used for Sports Massage and Sports Therapy can be used to support other healthcare therapists and professionals in different areas of expertise, and it demonstrates how those with different core training can complement each other in providing care and support to individuals with long-term conditions.  

My registration with CNHC demonstrates that I have met a set of standards and agreed to a code of conduct, ethics and performance, which was a strong consideration when Mel approached me for support.  I am very keen to continue my efforts and I hope to be able to offer similar training to other organisations in the future.  

Mike Murphy, CNHC registrant and Sports Therapy Profession Specific Board (PSB) Member