Integrating mindfulness with art


National charity Paintings in Hospitals has partnered with Imperial Health Charity, the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust and emerging curator Briana Oliver to develop ‘Linear Meditations’, a new mindful hospital exhibition featuring the works of influential British abstract artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

At Charing Cross Hospital, London, from the 14 November 2018, ‘Linear Meditations’ dives into the representations of water made by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham in her drawings, paintings and etchings between 1975-2002. Capturing water in a variety of forms, from glaciers to seascapes, the exhibition explores the power of water to both calm and captivate.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of mindfulness activities for patients, staff and visitors of the hospital. These will include mindful drawing, mindful listening and yoga. Mindfulness involves paying special attention to what is happening in the present moment: in our thoughts, our bodies and our surroundings. Studies show that practising mindfulness can help us to manage depression, anxiety and stress.

Curator Briana Oliver says:

‘We’ve integrated mindfulness into all elements of the exhibition, including our artwork labels. The labels prompt mindful reflection and provide a tool that patients and carers can use when experiencing difficult emotions. I hope this exhibition will create empowering and uplifting care spaces that inspire health and happiness for all.’

Linear Meditations will tour three healthcare spaces: Charing Cross Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital for the rest of the year and  throughout 2019. The exhibition will then be available for other hospitals across the country to borrow from the end of 2019.


New Dr Chatterjee Podcast addresses plastic pollution crisis

Dr Chatterjee1.jpgGP, Author and TV presenter, Dr Rangan Chatterjee turns his attention to plastic pollution in his latest Feel Better, Live More podcast.

Dr Chatterjee talks to campaigner and Head of Oceans at Greenpeace, Will McCallum, about the effect of single-use plastic on the environment and what we can do to stop it.

In addition, they discuss how human health and environmental health are inseparable, and how the current state of the environment is a reflection of our always on the go, highly stressed lifestyles.

Will also shares tips on ways we can all help reduce our contribution to the plastic pollution crisis, including buying reusable coffee cups, water bottles and bags, as well as saying no to straws.

Plastic pollution pixabay

Dr Chatterjee says, ‘Shockingly, even if you throw your coffee cup in the recycling bin, the chances are, it still won’t be recycled and may end up in the ocean. The same is true of the 35 million plastic bottles we use in the UK every day. Although the statistics may sound gloomy, small policy change can make a big difference. Since the introduction of a 5p charge, plastic bag use has been reduced by 85%. Now more than ever before, we have access to the people in power via social media and are able to ask for real change and we will be heard.’

Listen to the podcast here

Read an interview with Dr Chatterjee in the Winter 2018 issue of International Therapist

Quote of the week

Mary self care.jpg

FHT Vice President Mary Dalgleish says we can become better therapists, and people in general, if we look after ourselves as well as our clients:

‘As we learn better self-care, I feel that we become not just better therapists, but better people in general. When we are in touch with our own feelings and are filling our own tanks with self-respect and loving care, we have much more to give to everyone else.’


FHT local support group news: Hertfordshire hears about healthy eating

Hertfordshire LSG.jpg

We always look for ways to bring informative speakers to FHT members in the Hertfordshire area and sometimes we go a little further and work with local businesses and organisations, writes Hertfordshire LSG coordinator Jay Chandarana.

Recently, we got in touch with the owners of a new vegan place in town (Letchworth Garden City) and asked if they would like to present a talk on ‘How to eat healthy the vegan way’.

To our delight, the two brothers took our offer and helped us with promoting the event and using their premises. What a great cost saving. The evening was open to members and non-members. The talk was so inspiring and educational: it covered nutritional information on vegan foods that can cover the national healthy eating recommendations.

It gave information on how the brothers became vegan and, with the help of their mum, opened a vegan café.

The evening closed with some sample foods, such as pieces of jackfruit burger, smashed chickpea and mayonnaise sourdough sandwiches, and raw courgette and walnut crackers.

We hope you enjoyed this article, which was first published in the Autumn 2018 issue of International Therapist!

International Therapist is the FHT’s membership magazine. Published on a quarterly basis, it offers a broad range of articles—from aromatherapy and electrolysis, to sports injuries and regulation updates. The magazine is a membership benefit and is not available off-the-shelf or by subscription.

Join today to start receiving the leading magazine for professional therapists.


Reading could help people experiencing loneliness

Reading pixabay_low res

Around 9 million people in the UK say they often or always feel lonely, a figure that is expected to get worse by 2030.

A significant body of evidence has shown that reading could help halt the loneliness epidemic facing Britain, according to a report by leading think tank, Demos and charity The Reading Agency.

The report, entitled ‘A Society of Readers’ says that reading books can significantly reduce feelings of loneliness for people aged 18-64 and it is also associated with having close relationships.

The report coincides with the launch of a new programme from The Reading Agency called Reading Friends, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. By sharing stories in groups or one to one sessions, Reading Friends empowers and engages older people who are vulnerable and isolated, including people with dementia and carers. An evaluation of the test phase showed that a staggering 88% of participants appreciated the increased social contact from reading inspired conversations. The same percentage felt they added purpose to their week. Building on the initial success of the programme, The Reading Agency plans to expand Reading Friends for national rollout in 2020.

Previous research has found that reading groups can provide a route out of social isolation for young mothers, who are particularly susceptible to loneliness, with many saying reading helps to foster conversation. In addition, 95% of people who are blind or partially sighted read at least once a week to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation.

As well as revealing how reading can be used as an intervention for loneliness, the report explores how reading can benefit wellbeing and mental health, by regulating mood, exercising the brain, and providing an effective form of support for depression, anxiety and anger issues—for example, through self-help books. The report recommends that the NHS should encourage Clinical Commissioning Groups to invest more in book-based interventions as part of its social prescribing strategy and fund the provision of book based therapies in libraries across the country. Social mobility can also be positively influenced through reading; it breeds important life skills, which translate into greater opportunities in life. The report suggests that, in order to build a more productive, creative and fairer society, access to reading needs to be made universal and common for all.

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency said: ‘Demos’s predictions for 2030 offer a desperately concerning outlook. If we don’t start to tackle issues of loneliness, mental health and social mobility now, then we will continue to put pressure on our vital workforces such as the care sector and the NHS. The forecasts for the loneliness epidemic are particularly shocking, but reading can be part of the solution: as this report demonstrates, it is not only an essential life skill but has huge power to bring people together to combat loneliness among all age groups. Through reading-based national interventions, we can futureproof our society, and ultimately use reading to help protect younger generations at risk of rising levels of loneliness. We have already seen through our Reading Friends programme that social reading can have profound impact on older people who are often the most vulnerable in society. We hope these benefits will eventually be opened up to everyone.’

Access the report

Supporting you to support others


Self Care Week starts in just five days. Carrying the strap-line, ‘choose self care for life’, the annual awareness week reminds us that it’s important to make time to look after your own health and wellbeing, as well as your clients’.

We know that being a therapist can be extremely rewarding, yet also physically and emotionally demanding. As Self Care Week approaches (12-18 November), we thought we’d take this opportunity to share some articles that will help to give you a little boost.

Top tips to recharge your batteries

Christopher Byrne, President of the FHT, offers six top tips to help you preserve and boost your energy levels, from staying hydrated throughout the day, to tackling that task you’ve been putting off till ‘tomorrow’…

Looking back, moving forward

Back in 2013, Dr Peter Mackereth, former clinical lead for complementary therapy at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, shared with FHT members the importance of reflective practice and supervision, along with two case studies.

DIY marma facial massage

Mary Dalgleish, Vice President of the FHT, provides an introduction to marma massage, along with a short DIY facial routine that will be sure to make a difference to how you look and feel.

Sauna bathing

Frequent sauna bathing is said to reduce the risk of elevated blood pressure, according to an extensive study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland.