International Therapist Winter 2021

As a member of the FHT, your Winter issue of International Therapist will be arriving soon!

In this issue, you will find:

A special feature on our winners of our first Green Therapy Practice of the Year Award, Anne Bramley and Helen Saunders from Wellbeing at Whistlewood. We also take a look at our 2020 FHT Excellence Award Winners who are helping to raise the bar in therapy training and practice.

  • Founder of the Wild Swimming community, Rise Fierce, Sophie Hellyer, speaks about the benefits of cold-water immersion and how to swim safely and we hear from FHT members about their love for the hobby.
  • A short excerpt from Dr Michael Dixon’s latest book, Time to Heal.
  • A look at the most popular hand-held massage tools on the market and where to buy them.
  • Anne Ferguson, Peter Mackereth and Ann Carter take a look at infection control and massage.
  • Katie Asgari, curriculum team leader at Rotherham College, writes about her work inspiring the next generation of hair and beauty therapists.
  • A short step-by-step guide to creating a beeswax wrap gift for your clients.
  • Small changes you can make in your therapy practice to support clients who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Plus an essential oil profile on lemongrass, the latest FHT local group news; a day in the life of Jennifer Young, skincare expert and founder of Beauty Despite Cancer; the latest research; expert advice; medical A-Z; and a guest column by Caroline Nokes MP on the importance of complementary therapies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And don’t miss the opportunity to win one of six Base Formula essential oil mood gift sets, worth £17.50 each. Fill out our online form to enter our competition for this issue.

Landing on your doorstep from Friday 22 January. You can also log in to read this issue (from Friday 22 January) and past issues online at

Unconscious bias webinar

Following the 2020 FHT Equality and Diversity Survey, we pledged to offer FHT members training on the topic of equality and diversity within your therapy practice.  

We worked with the Equality Works Group to bring FHT members training on unconscious bias over a choice of two dates in 2020, and now have a third date – Monday 25 January 2021.

Feedback from the first two sessions was overwhelmingly positive with all delegates reporting that their session met expectations, and that they left with a ‘clear idea’ of how to behave inclusively.

A few of the comments were as follows…

“There is so much more to be aware of regarding being biased. and now I know what it is, it will be very helpful to be more conscious about these things.”

“An excellent seminar, thank you very much. I wanted to explore and reflect on my inclusive thinking and the role unconscious bias in my practice and life in general and you gave that very well indeed”

“Two hours of total immersion into how to learn a little more about ourselves and how we see others delivered inclusively with many opportunities to explore safely with others and grow.”

Due to its popularity, a third webinar is being held on Monday 25 January 2021 from 2pm – 4pm at just £35 for FHT members.

Book your slot on the next Unconscious Bias webinar

Social prescribing on BBC Countryfile

Co-chair of the Social Prescribing Network, Dr Marie Polley, spoke on BBC Countryfile on Sunday 10 January about the benefits of social prescribing and how link workers use ‘green prescribing’.

Marie said, ‘Social prescribing is a way of really easing the pressure off the NHS. Around 20% of people will visit a GP when their need is not directly medical, they don’t necessarily need a pharmaceutical drug prescribed, but they do need support. In those cases, the GP will encourage the person to see a link worker – I call them ‘bringers of hope’ because they will sit with the person for about an hour to gently unpack the complex situation that might be happening.

‘Connecting people with nature is something we call green prescribing. People might say to their link worker, “I really like gardening” or “I really like being in nature” and they can be connected up with local conservation projects. The key thing is that people are with others who have shared interests, so they naturally make connections.

In the episode, Marie is filmed walking in the woods with presenter Anita Rani. Marie asks Anita, ‘Can you smell the woods?… You always know you’re in woods because you can smell them and that’s because the trees and the plants are giving off volatile chemicals. Lots of research studies have shown that they’re beneficial for people with asthma and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), they can be anti-inflammatory, so by walking in the woods you are getting a dose of nature.’

By 2023 it’s hoped that at least 900,000 people in the UK will be referred to social prescribing schemes, cutting health service usage by up to 20% which long-term could save the NHS billions.

Watch the ‘New Year, New Me’ episode of Countryfile on BBC iPlayer.

The book club bringing together reflexologists during the pandemic

When the first lockdown was announced in March 2020, reflexologist and author Sally Kay, FFHT, launched a book club on Facebook. The group now has thousands of members worldwide and hosts regular live events with authors of reflexology books and other related topics. 

Contributors to these live video streams have been well-known authors such as Lynne Booth MFHT, Jane Sheehan MFHT, Barabra Scott MFHT, Peter Mackereth, Geraldine Villeneuve, Sam Belyea, Sue Ricks and Susan Quayle. FHT Vice President, Mary Dalgliesh, concluded the series for 2020 with her video on the immune system where she read an excerpt from her new book, ‘Know your body, the essential book to anatomy and physiology.’ 

Other sessions have featured authors talking about their work in related subjects such as personal development, self-care, wellbeing business strategies and even self-publishing. 

Sally said, ‘The initiative started as a way of connecting with like-minded reflexologists, creating a community at a time when many of us were feeling exceptionally vulnerable and lonely. It’s brought a lot of comfort at a time of need, we have had many messages saying what a life-line the book club has been and that it offers something to look forward to each week. The group is a fantastic resource for anyone in the complementary therapy field – any FHT members who would like to join are welcome to tap into it.’  

Group member Carla Helgeton, said, ‘The book club is like having a group of teachers there on your computer screen – wisdom, experience and peer support all rolled into one. The group provides camaraderie, support and enthusiasm for more knowledge.’  

The book club is free to join and every one-hour live session is made available for group members to watch. FHT members can complete the reflection for learning and training template after they have watched any of the videos and gain 5 CPD points from their 500-word reflection.  

Join the Reflexology Book Club. 

The next live event will take place with Peter Mackereth on Friday 15 January at 2pm where Peter will be talking about how to adapt reflexology for cancer care. 

Sally Kay FFHT BSc (Hons) was a winner in the FHT 2012 Excellence in Practice Awards. Sally is the author of a bestselling book about Reflexology Lymph Drainage (RLD) and runs an FHT-accredited short course in RLD  

Dr Chatterjee explores how to discover your inner power in his latest podcast

The start of a new year typically involves us looking at changes we would like to make to improve our own lives and the lives of those around us. With 2020 having been a particularly difficult year, the key to working on these goals could first be learning to reframe our experiences and put trauma behind us.

In his first podcast episode of 2021, Dr Chatterjee speaks to Auschwitz survivor Dr Edith Eger on how to discover your inner power. Dr Edith speaks honestly about how mindset was her most important tool in overcoming her horrific experiences within the concentration camp.

Edith explains how she how she began to view her guards as the prisoners, turn hate into pity and goes as far as describing the experience as ‘an opportunity’. Through forgiveness, Edith escaped from the prison of her past and encourages listeners to, reframe it as ‘liberating yourself and giving yourself a gift, rather than forgiving someone for something’.

Dr Chatterjee said, ‘I felt grateful and humbled to have had the opportunity to speak to Edith and the conversation really changed me. I hope you get as much out of it as I did.’

Listen to Episode 144 of the Feel Better Live More podcast

Happier January – Action for Happiness

Every month, Action for Happiness produces a calendar full of daily actions we can take to boost our own happiness and that of others around us.

To kick off 2021, the charity’s ‘Happier January’ calendar includes daily activities to help you handle difficult emotions and experiences by focusing on what you can control.

When noticing the good in others and their strengths on day 5, consider some of our suggestions below:

  • Approaches they may have taken to overcome adversity in 2020.
  • Small acts they carry out in their daily lives to be kind to others.
  • Reflect on a time that person has supported you and what it meant to you.

The calendar is free to download as a PDF or image file (JPEG) in 16 different languages. You can also download the actions straight to your calendar using a Google Calendar or iCalendar file.

Download the January 2021 Action for Happiness calendar

Dr. Chatterjee explores the power of compassion as a therapeutic tool

In the season of giving and reflection, we tend to spend some time thinking about others and how we can be there for those around us.

In Episode 138 of his podcast, Feel Better Live More, Dr Chatterjee explores the healing power of compassion with Dr Julian Abel.

Dr Julian Abel spent his working career as a consultant in palliative care. He is joint leader of the Frome Project, which works to combat loneliness in a town in Somerset through building community connections.

In this conversation, Julian explores the evidence of using compassion as a therapeutic tool. He explains that maintaining positive social relationships are at the core of keeping us well and that it can be more powerful than modern day medicines.

Julian reflects on his time as a palliative care doctor, sharing uplifting and empowering stories that truly bring home the reasons why compassion and connection should be at the centre of everything we do.

Listen to Episode 138 of the Feel Better Live More podcast.

How social prescribing could be used to tackle the UK’s loneliness crisis

Dr Michael Dixon, Chair of the College of Medicine and Integrated Health, addressed how social prescribing could be used to combat loneliness in a speech at the Westminster Insight conference. He highlights that social prescribing is a useful tool when it comes to supporting those who are feeling isolated, as the scheme provides new opportunities for people to socialise.

He highlighted that the number of link workers is increasing in England, with the aim that within the next few years there will be up to three link workers assigned to every group of GP practices. Link workers team up with local services and volunteers to extend their reach so that they are able to support all those who are referred to them or have been flagged as self-isolating.

Dr. Michael Dixon outlined how social prescribing helps people build connections and gives them new opportunities. He concludes his talk by highlighting that to truly tackle loneliness, the approach does need to go deeper than this. He said, ‘Social prescribing is about inequalities and helping those who need help most.  The last Surgeon General of the US, Vivek Murthy, refers to the ‘Paradox of Loneliness’ which describes how those who feel most lonely may, paradoxically, often be those who are most resistant to social approaches and opportunities. 

‘It has been estimated, for instance, that lonely brains detect social threat twice as fast as unlonely ones.  Consequently, the unique strength of the social prescribing link worker is that they can do a ‘deep dive’ into the mind and lives of their clients and formulate a solution only when they thoroughly understand their background, challenges, hopes and beliefs – and this may often involve the link worker accompanying the client to the first few sessions of any new activity.

‘I also think social prescribing also has a vital role as catalyst for creating a community where people are less lonely to begin with. Social link workers often work alongside community builders, whose job is to increase the potential of the local volunteer and voluntary sector. Indeed, some link workers do both jobs. This results in a coming together of the voluntary sector, primary care and the local authority, which can increase local social capital and resilience and thus create a community where there are less lonely people altogether.’

Learn more about social prescribing

Peppermint reduces postoperative nausea and vomiting in cardiac patients

A study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice examined the effects of peppermint essential oil on postoperative nausea and vomiting, which are common side effects in patients in the first four hours after cardiac surgery. (Maghami et al, 2020) 

The clinical trial involved 60 cardiac surgery patients, who were divided into control and intervention groups. The intervention group received peppermint essential oil through a nebulizer before the endotracheal tube was removed after surgery and their nausea and vomiting assessed using a checklist.  

The results of the trial showed significant differences between the intervention and control groups in terms of the frequency of nausea, its duration and severity, and in the frequency of vomiting episodes in the first four hours after having the endotracheal tube removed. 

The authors concluded that “Peppermint essential oil inhalation has beneficial effects on reducing nausea and vomiting after open-heart surgery. Using peppermint essential oil inhalation for managing postoperative nausea and vomiting is recommended.” 

Click here to access the study abstract

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Maghami M, Reza Afazel M, Azizi-Fini I, Maghami M. (2020) The effect of aromatherapy with peppermint essential oil on nausea and vomiting after cardiac surgery: A randomized clinical trial Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice40

Take part in an online sleep treatment study run by experts at Northumbria University

Sleep experts at Northumbria University are looking for people who are experiencing issues with their sleep to take part in an online treatment study.

The programme has been launched following a review of COVID-19 sleep studies, which indicate that around 40% of people have been experiencing sleep problems as a result of the pandemic.

Phycologists from Northumbria University believe that they can stop sleep disruption if they are able to intervene at an early stage. The online study looks at educating people on how they can change their behavior in order to sleep better, a method which has proven to be effective on people with insomnia.

Dr Greg Elder, Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Associate Director of Northumbria Sleep Research, says “We know that more and more people are developing problems with their sleep during the pandemic. This is partly due to changes to our lifestyle, which can include spending more time at home and working in the bedroom. We want to use an online version of an established treatment to intervene early and stop short-term sleep problems from becoming a more serious long-term problem. We also want to target good sleepers and prevent sleep problems from happening in the first place.”

There is no deadline in which to apply for the study but participants are required to be aged 18 or over, have access to the internet and to be able to read written English.

Apply to take part in the study.