WRW: Accredited course provider Marie Duggan shares reflexology case study

Marie Duggan, accredited course provider at Butterfly Touch Therapies shares a case study for World Reflexology Week (21-25 September).

*Please note, the details in this case study were recorded pre-COVID-19 and Marie’s client’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

‘I received a phone call from Alice asking to book in for a reflexology session’, Marie writes. ‘Upon her arrival I carried out a client consultation, Alice was 70 and in good health but had been widowed 12 months prior. Alice answered all the consultation questions in a flat, controlled way. With no outward show of emotions, she explained how she had woken up to find her husband had died in his sleep beside her as a result of an embolism.

‘Alice explained how she could not grieve and was struggling to release her emotions, she felt she could not cry or talk to anyone about her loss. In fact, she admitted to not really wanting to discuss her feelings with others and just felt in a continual fog she could not find her way out of.

‘She had been on anti-depressants from her doctor and had attended months of individual and group counselling. She said neither of these approaches had helped, she was respectful of the counsellor but said the sessions left her feeling more disconnected and decided to discontinue with both.

‘I asked her ‘why Reflexology?’ Alice answered she did not know why she was coming but felt drawn to it. I explained I was not a counsellor, but I would hope reflexology would relax her system and help her reconnect with her heart. She said she was realistic and had no expectations but would like to be able to relax her mind if possible. Alice requested no music, just silence throughout the session and of course I obliged. We agreed to a treatment once a week and to assess a month later.

‘On the first treatment I started by holding Alice’s ankles, a technique I learned during my craniosacral therapy training. I found it a powerful tool to assess a client’s life force before and after treatments. I stand at the end of the bed, gently cup my hands around the ankles and slowly lift the feet a few inches off the bed. By softening my back, shoulders and hands I am holding and supporting but with the gentlest of touches. My immediate impression was how tightly held Alice’s system and energy was. At first it was barely detectable but after a few minutes I could feel her energy flicker and connect, it was slow and sluggish and I felt the sense of the deep shock her system was holding. I waited until I felt a softening, I refer to this as a meeting of energy, an unspoken surrendering. Once this happens, I begin.  

‘I adapt my reflexology treatment to a gentle and light pressure feeling this lady needed a caring and nurturing touch. Alice’s feet are pale and cold to the touch despite being a warm day. I have found over the years my reflexology has evolved to incorporate a deeper listening of the feet. I find the lungs are being tightly and rigidly held, so I spend some time working the lungs, shoulders, arms and the breast area, finishing by sandwiching with both hands the dorsal and plantar of these areas. As I hold, I feel her energy increase and flow, the foot has become warmer and more flexible.

‘I continue to further her relaxation by working the head and spine, incorporating spinal twists. I am aware of a lower vibrancy in the cervical, lumbar and coccyx reflexes and work the head and neck more before placing one finger and thumb at either side of the base of the big toe. This is a holding touch I have always found immensely powerful; you are holding at the neck (occipital area) and throat. If you were to visualise holding someone physically you would be cupping your hands under their head. I feel a release and energy starts to flow again.

‘It is only now that I feel I can work the heart, solar plexus and adrenals. All of these are a gentle touch, at times I decide to softly pump the area, creating a rhythm. I finish working these reflexes by holding the heart and solar plexus together. For the rest of the treatment I continue to work the whole foot before crossing over to repeat this on the left foot. At the end of the treatment I hold again at the heels and listen to the feet. The vibrancy has changed, although it is still slow and gentle, the energy now flows with ease, the feet have colour and are warmer.  

‘Alice’s feedback is that she is sleeping better, all her treatments are in silence. I ask her at the end of every treatment how she feels, and she tells me more relaxed. Her energy and vibrancy continue to improve and responds well to this gentle approach. In her fourth session Alice allows tears to gently flow, she keeps her eyes closed and does not speak. I hand her tissues and continue with the treatment. This happens for many more weeks with Alice releasing her emotions in a gentle way with no verbal exchange; she is grieving in her own way.

‘After eight sessions we decide to have treatments every two weeks and then once a month. I was aware of how much lighter she is and that she is interacting more with me and the world. When Alice had been coming to me for nine months, she said one day “Marie, I feel so much better, this has really helped me so much and I feel I want to get back into life again”. Alice then asked me if I knew of a good beautician she could go to and I knew my work was done. The power of the feet.’

Download your free promotional materials for World Reflexology Week 2020.

Gardens and outdoor spaces important for mental health

A new report released by the National Gardens Scheme has found that spending time in a garden can improve mental health. It emphasises the vital role that spending time outdoors played during the lockdown period in March and April.

The report brought together feedback from garden owners, people who had made use of the organisation’s virtual garden visits and an online survey conducted in August 2020.

Over 2,000 people responded with 92% saying their gardens and outdoor spaces were ‘extremely important’ to them during lockdown in terms of health and wellbeing. All of the respondents (100%) who were living in an urban or suburban environment during the lockdown period reported that spending time on their balconies or tending to window boxes helped to reduce their stress.

Chief Executive of the National Garden Scheme said, ‘Anecdotally, from the responses we received to our virtual garden visits during lockdown, we knew that gardens (real and virtual) were playing a significant and important role in people’s lives. In August, to back this up, we ran an online survey entitled ‘The importance of our gardens and outdoor spaces during lockdown’. ‘

Read the full report.

Black, asian and ethnic minority staff share their experiences of working within the NHS

In our next issue of International Therapist magazine (Autumn 2020, Issue 134) we explore equality, diversity and inclusivity within the complementary therapy and wellness industries.

The Kings Fund recently shared an article which explores people’s experiences of racism and discrimination within the NHS. It begins with a story shared by Angela who works in behavioural science. Angela said, ‘I’ve got people who are managing me who are racist, my manage holds me back, stops me getting opportunities that are given to my white counterparts who are maybe not as experienced as me.’

They include some interesting statistics on this, according to the latest WRES data, white staff are 15 per cent more likely to access non-mandatory training than their colleagues from an ethnic minority background. In the 2019 NHS Staff Survey, 15.3 per cent of ethnic minority staff reported experiencing discrimination at work from a manager, team leader or other colleague in the past year, this figure was more than double the proportion of white staff.

What are your views on equality and diversity within the industry? We would love to hear from you, email Leanne Sheill at lsheill@fht.org.uk.

Read the full news item as featured on the kingsfund.org.uk

How to recycle your used PPE

Single-use PPE falls currently under ‘non-recyclable waste’ in traditional recycling centres and until now there hasn’t been an easy option for safely disposing used PPE.

Recycling company, Terracycle, have created an innovative system that means one-time use face masks and disposable gloves can be recycled.

With Terracycle’s Zero Waste Box system, customers pay a small fee for a box to where they can dispose of their single-use PPE. Once filled, this box can be sent back to Terracycle to sort and recycle.

One sorted, the collected PPE is grouped and cleaned before being melted into pellets which are distributed to third parties who make new products using them. Examples of the products made include bins, watering cans and storage containers.

Find out more about the Zero Waste Box system.

Celebrating National Massage day and Pro-Touch Awareness month

This year National Massage Day (NMD) will be held on 1 October, coinciding with Pro-Touch Awareness Month, which runs throughout October.

This year the focus has been shifted from encouraging people to ‘join the hands-on revolution’ to taking a look at how we can touch the lives of others when physical touch is no longer possible.

Organised by Liz Badger, founder of The Therapist Business Club and Face The World, the aim of these two initiatives is to raise awareness about the many benefits of complementary therapies, and ultimately the importance connection.

Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to share any free and online information on the following subjects –

  • Combating loneliness and help for when self-isolating
  • Self-care tips for mental health
  • Online help for supporting clients
  • As always, examples of volunteering, paying it forward and supporting others.

Please note: when sharing information it needs to be in the form of a link and free of charge/public e.g blog posts, on-line videos, downloadable free e-books or podcasts etc. They will be tagged into a free Facebook library as an inspiring resource for everyone to access and share.

For therapists wanting to get involved, there is a range of support materials available at protouchawarenessmonth.co.uk, including a special Facebook group, where members are invited to share any information they have.

Ayurvedic practitioners invited to take part in AMRIT Research Project

All Ayurvedic professionals in the UK are invited to take part in a special Ayurvedic Medicine Research IniTiative (AMRIT) Research Project, by completing an online questionnaire.
AMRIT is the first national, practice-based research project to map the landscape of Ayurvedic patient care in the UK. It is an independent research project initiated and funded by the Ayurvedic Professionals Association UK (APA), working in collaboration with the Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM).

AMRIT aims to understand who Ayurvedic professionals are, why people seek Ayurveda and how Ayurvedic professionals help their clients/patients. This unique research project will develop and co-ordinate the evidence-base for Ayurvedic medicine in the UK.  

The AMRIT project has a number of related aims, including producing evidence-base for the use of Ayurveda in the UK; establishing a national research resource; ensuring a closer relationship between research output and the needs of Ayurveda professionals and patients; and developing partnerships and collaborations across the Ayurvedic research and practice community.

By showing the scope and breadth of use of Ayurveda, IMRAT will help determine where Ayurveda is located within the health services and enable all individuals within the profession to show clear information on why and how Ayurveda is used in the UK.

Once the project has been completed and the data analysed, the top line results will be shared with FHT members, and more in-depth information made available in open access peer-reviewed journals.

The questionnaire takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and has a closing date of 30 November 2020, though the researchers are encouraging practitioners to complete it as soon as possible, to help track the response rate.

Complete the AMRIT Research Questionnaire

Sarah Woodhouse, MFHT, writes about Bowen Therapy in the East Anglian Daily Times

Sarah Woodhouse, MFHT, has contributed an article on Bowen therapy to the East Anglian Daily Times.

In the double page spread Sarah discusses the benefits of Bowen therapy especially for clients concerned with skin-on-skin contact, as the therapy can be carried out over clothing.

Sarah said, ‘Don’t be afraid to contact your local press and radio with newsworthy stories (in the form of a press release) about you, your business, and the industry you work in.

‘Local and regional PR is invaluable, and it’s not just about getting new clients there and then! It’s about reinforcing your credibility as a therapist, and planting the seed of awareness in peoples minds so that when they need a therapist they will think of you. Remember, PR is about a long term approach to creating and growing your therapy business!’

Sarah is based in Suffolk and is trained in reflexology, reiki and Bowen therapy. Sarah also works as a tutor for The College of Bowen Studies.

Read the full feature published by the East Anglian Daily Times.

New chip that could make hearts beat better 

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4386467Researchers believe a new chip that reads the body’s breathing signals to control the heartbeat could be more effective than a pacemaker.

A heartbeat naturally varies with each breath; it is faster when inhaling and slower when exhaling.

Pacemakers are set to a regular heart rate which prevents the heart from beating too quickly, too slowly or irregularly.

However, researchers believe that this new chip could facilitate more controlled heartbeat. When tested on rats, the chip boosted the blood being pumped around the body by one fifth.

The British Heart Foundation is funding the research with the hope that the chip will one day revolutionise the design of pacemakers.

Read more at fht.org.uk/IT-133-chip

FHT proud to support an online event for people affected by cancer

The FHT is proud to be supporting Your Life and Cancer 2020, a live online event aimed at supporting anyone whose life is affected by cancer.

Those attending have the opportunity to learn about evidence-based lifestyle changes and complementary therapies that can supplement conventional medical treatments to optimise their health and wellbeing.

Hosted in partnership with Yes to Life, the UK’s integrative cancer care charity, Your Life and Cancer 2020 brings together world-famous oncologists, doctors and therapists who will present evidence-informed information on lifestyle changes and cancer-related integrative healthcare therapies. The event also includes ‘real life’ case studies from those who have benefited from integrating lifestyle and complementary approaches alongside conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Through this event, aimed at people who have had a cancer diagnosis, their family, friends and carers, as well as oncologists, medical practitioners and therapists, Your Life and Cancer 2020 provides a short-cut to reliable evidence informed information to enable you to make informed choices about how best to support yourself, your family, friends or patients.

Held over two weekends, 26-28 September and 10-12 October 2020, the weekends feature a breathtaking line-up of over 40 expert speakers from across the globe. For the full list of speakers, please visit: www.YourLifeandCancer.com/speaker-list

Ticket prices start at £25 per weekend for the early bird rate registrations before 18 September 2020.

For more information and to book, visit: www.YourLifeandCancer.com or email hello@YourLifeandCancer.com

Starting a conversation about the menopause


A study by the beauty company, Avon, has found that 47% of women feel unprepared and uninformed when it comes to the menopause.

Over 700 women aged between 45 and 54 from countries across the world took part in the quantitative study.  Of those participants, 44% were unaware of perimenopause with nearly six out of ten British women saying they were not aware of the pre-menopausal process when it started.

Avon has encouraged women to help themselves and future generations by speaking up and sharing their experiences.

Previous first lady, Michelle Obama, highlights the importance of talking about the menopause in an episode of her new podcast. In the episode entitled ‘what your mother never told you about health’, Michelle speaks to gynaecologist Dr Sharon Malone about all things female-health.

When discussing the menopause, Michelle says, ‘If we can’t acknowledge what’s going on with us, we can’t fully celebrate just how amazing we are. When you think of all that a woman’s body has to do over the course of her lifetime… there is power in that but we were taught to be ashamed of it, not to even seek to understand it or explore it for our own edification. Let alone to help the next generation.’

Michelle provides an insight into her experience of the menopause while on a presidential tour with her husband Barack Obama. Michelle said, ‘I’m dressed and I needed to go to a big event but it was like somebody put a furnace in my core and turned it on high, everything started melting.

‘I thought, this is crazy, I can’t do this. Barack was surrounded by women in his cabinet at the time, many going through menopause and he could see it because sweat would start pouring. He was like what’s going on? I would say “this is just how we live”. He didn’t fall apart when he found out there were several women going through the menopause, he just said “oh, well turn the air conditioning on!” The day-to-day functions of everyday life while you’re going through the menopause just don’t work.’

Why not consider some steps you could take to normalise the menopause for younger generations. If you have any comments related to this topic, we would love to hear from you. Simply email Leanne Sheill at lsheill@fht.org.uk.