How FHT reflexologists are supporting the health of the nation


As many reflexologists and reflexology fans will be aware, this week is World Reflexology Week (23-29 September). It’s a great opportunity to celebrate this popular complementary therapy but, more importantly, to promote the different ways it can help to improve the nation’s health and wellbeing.

The FHT holds the largest Accredited Register of complementary therapists to be independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, as part of a government-backed programme. In the run up to World Reflexology Week, we surveyed our reflexology members to find out exactly how they are supporting their clients. Below are just a few highlights we wanted to share with you…

  • 81% of our survey respondents* describe their clients as people wanting to try a natural approach to managing their health (alongside medical care, where appropriate)
  • 71% told us that their clients are having reflexology to support them with a long-term health condition
  • 90% of our reflexology members are supporting clients who have stress and anxiety, including 42% with a diagnosed mental health problem
  • In terms of physical conditions and symptoms, 67% of respondents told us that they see clients experiencing pain, 64% with sleep problems, 60% with joint or mobility issues and 52% affected by cancer
  • 33% are supporting clients receiving palliative or end of life care
  • 21% have helped people affected by a traumatic event, including war, bereavement and those who have received a troubling medical prognosis
  • 44% see clients who are carers for family and friends, and 9% support those working in emergency services including the police, fire and rescue, and paramedics
  • 33% provide reflexology to health professionals committed to caring for others

While complementary therapies cannot cure or treat medical conditions, these survey results are an indication of how interventions such as reflexology can be used to empower and help clients to manage their health and symptoms, and improve overall quality of life. Taking a person-centred, holistic approach to wellbeing, professional reflexologists and other complementary therapists are ideally placed to encourage positive lifestyle changes in clients and relieve some of the pressures being placed on our health and care system.

Keen to learn more?

More facts and stats from our 2019 FHT Reflexology Survey – along with six short case studies and supporting client testimonials – will be published in the Autumn issue of International Therapist, due to reach members on 17 October.

If you’re a qualified reflexologist and member of the FHT, don’t forget you can download lots of useful resources at to promote your activities during World Reflexology Week, including promotional leaflets and posters, and images and banners for your social media profiles. Remember to send FHT your pictures and a short write-up of any events you do to celebrate World Reflexology Week! Please email these to Karen at

Finally, a huge thank you to all those members who responded to our 2019 FHT Reflexology Survey. Articles like this would not be possible without your support.

*Based on 188 responses to the 2019 FHT Reflexology Survey. If sharing any of the above information, please cite the FHT ( / @FHT_org)

National Massage Day and Pro-Touch Awareness Month to promote massage and positive touch this October

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It has recently been confirmed that National Massage Day (NMD) will be held on 1 October 2019, coinciding with Pro-Touch Awareness Month, which runs for the whole of October.

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 massage and hands-on therapies, and ultimately the importance of human touch and connection.

For therapists wanting to get involved, there is a range of support materials available from a dedicated website ( ), including articles from the FHT, and a special Facebook group, where people are invited to share blogs, testimonials and photographs of any NMD or Pro-Touch Awareness events organised, along with ‘ideas on how this wonderful month for the sector can be celebrated’.

Enter FHT’s special prize draw…

National Massage Day competitionThe FHT holds the largest Accredited Register of complementary therapists – including massage therapists – to be independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care, as part of a government-backed programme.

In support of NMD and Pro-Touch Awareness Month, the FHT will be giving away 10 FHT tote goody bags, containing an FHT natural plant wax candle, to help create a relaxing treatment environment for your clients, and a copy of FHT’s membership magazine, International Therapist. It’s free to enter but please note you can only enter once! Full terms and conditions can be found at the bottom of the online prize draw form (see link below). Closing date for entries: 31 October.

Enter FHT’s NMD and Pro-Touch Awareness Month prize draw

Study suggests abdominal massage may help constipation

Blog abdominal massage constipation

A study recently published in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing (Yıldırım et al, 2019) suggests that abdominal massage may help people with constipation.

Researchers in Turkey conducted a randomised controlled trial with 204 patients with constipation as a result of opioid medication, who were split into two equal groups. The intervention group were taught to administer a 15-minute abdominal massage on themselves, in a clockwise direction over the intestines, which they did twice a day (once in the morning and once in the evening) for four weeks.

The control group received standard medical care, such as laxative suppositories and enemas. Both groups were asked to keep a ‘defecation diary’ and completed the Bristol stool scale, for evaluating stools and bowel habits; the visual analogue scale (VAS), with questions about constipation severity, straining and pain; and the patient assessment of constipation quality of life (PACQLQ) scale, which looks at anxiety, physical and psychological discomfort, and satisfaction.

Patients in the massage group reported significant improvements in stool consistency, straining during defecation and the feeling of incomplete emptying after defecation, and experienced increased bowel movement. They also reported a reduction in the severity of constipation, pain, straining, gas and fullness in the rectum. However, the massage had no effect on the stool amount.

The authors of the study also noted that, ‘Anecdotally, participants also found the abdominal massage to be relaxing, and it was interesting that the majority of the participants were keen to undertake the massage themselves, as it provided a means of self-help and empowerment’.

Read the study abstract or link through to purchase the full study

Reference: Yıldırım D, Can G, Talu GK. (2019). The efficacy of abdominal massage in managing opioid-induced constipation. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 41: 110-119.


Dr Chatterjee’s latest podcast looks at motivation, human performance and mindset

Dr Chatterjee

Dr Rangan Chatterjee is a GP, TV presenter and best-selling author of The Stress Solution and The 4 Pillar Plan, who kindly contributed an article to International Therapist magazine last year about lifestyle medicine. He also produces Feel Better, Live More, the number one health podcast in the UK.

In episode 73 of his podcast, Dr Chatterjee interviews Ross Edgley, the first ever swimmer to circumnavigate the whole of Great Britain – an incredible 1,780 miles in 157 days – without setting foot on land. As well as explaining how he got through his epic journey, Ross talks to Dr Chatterjee about the science behind why our minds limit us, explaining how we can all push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and reap the amazing knock-on benefits that come from doing so.

While Ross’s achievements are quite exceptional, Dr Chatterjee comments, ‘The overriding message from both of us is – it doesn’t matter where you start, just start somewhere. I hope this episode inspires you to push yourself outside your circle of comfort.’

Listen to episode 73 of Dr Chatterjee’s Feel Better, Live More podcast

Quote of the week

Organic beauty.jpg

Looking to make your therapy business more eco-friendly? We look at a few suggestions that could help to protect the planet and show your clients that you care (Article first published in International Therapist, Issue 128, Spring 2019):

#OBWW19 #oneSmallSwap #OrganicSeptember #OrganicSkincare

An NHS therapy school that works for all

NHS Natural Health School

The NHS Natural Health School is the first NHS-approved and owned complementary school, developed and run by NHS employees. Located in Harrogate District Hospital – part of Harrogate and District Foundation Trust – it was officially launched in May 2018 after four years of hard work by its dedicated team.

The school was developed to create a self-sustaining model of care for cancer patients, delivered by therapists trained to the highest standards of care expected of any health professional working within the NHS.

Gwyn Featonby, one of the school’s founders, said its mission is to provide complementary therapy diplomas and CPD courses that uniquely include practical placements and clinical supervision within the NHS. This allows therapists to gain experience treating patients with complex healthcare needs that they may have been unable to treat in their initial training.

Courses include foundation-level training in a range of complementary therapies, CPD and advanced courses in many areas of complex patient management and courses delivered in collaboration with other training providers. One of its most innovative developments has been the NHS certificate programme for complementary therapists, which involves a clinical work placement and competency-based learning programmes that meet the essential standards as directed by the Care Quality Commission, national occupational standards and agreed competencies for the specialist pathway as set by clinicians.

Gwyn has noted that the school’s courses are not only for those looking to work within the NHS, but also those who want to treat a wider range of clients. It is estimated that by 2030, around 50% of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, so having evidence-based clinical training for treating such patients will be of benefit to all therapists.

The model created by the team means that for each cohort of students they have on a training pathway, 72 patients are removed from the complementary therapy service waiting list. Patients are referred for treatment by a health professional at the centre, many of whom have experienced the treatments first-hand or have simply seen how different therapies have helped their patients – from helping to resolve sleep issues to pain management. Such issues may have previously required referral to a specialist and cost the NHS precious time and money, highlighting the value of the service.

The team intend to continue refining the model before introducing it to other departments at the hospital and ultimately licensing it to other Trusts, benefitting patients, therapists, health professionals and the wider health service alike.

Learn more about the NHS Natural Health School, the training it provides and how the model supports patients, medical staff and the trust in Gwyn Featonby and Sarah Grant’s talk at the 2019 FHT Conference.

Find out more about the event and book your tickets