Help us bring cheer with Crisis at Christmas!

National homelessness charity Crisis is calling on therapists to provide treatment for homeless people at its temporary centres this Christmas.

Crisis at Christmas 2015

In its 50th anniversary year, Crisis at Christmas runs from 22 – 29 December 2017 with centres set to open across London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Coventry and Edinburgh. As well as warmth, companionship and hot meals, guests will receive healthcare and specialist advice on housing, work and benefits.

The therapy service is hugely valuable for guests, giving them access to treatment they may otherwise miss out on during the rest of the year. With 229 guests having therapy treatment across all centres last year, Crisis is calling for qualified therapists to provide assessment, treatment and advice and for student therapists to assist in running the clinics.

There are now 307,000 people sleeping rough, or in temporary housing – that’s around one in every 206 people.

Crisis at Christmas centres are run by thousands of volunteers from all walks of life with registration now open at You can also find out more information about volunteering on our website.

Here’s what people are saying:

Pandora Knocker, Service Organiser for Physiotherapy, will be volunteering for the fifth time this year. She said:

“Everybody has a right to healthcare and it’s great that I can bring my skills as a physio to Crisis at Christmas. It feels good to be part of something that can really make a difference.”

One in four homeless people will face spending Christmas alone this year. With the homelessness crisis worsening, Crisis says the centres are needed now more than ever.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:

“Without our volunteers, Crisis at Christmas simply wouldn’t exist to help provide a warm, safe place to those with nowhere to call home.

“It’s because of their generosity that we can bring thousands of people friendship, support, and life-changing services each and every Christmas.

“And though we work all year round to help people experiencing homelessness – we know that the Christmas season should be a special time for everyone and that no one should have to spend it alone.

“So as our charity turns 50, we will work harder than ever to make homelessness a thing of the past. And until then our volunteers will remain at the heart of what we do.”

About the organisation:

Crisis at Christmas

Crisis at Christmas is a unique volunteer effort that provides immediate help for homeless people at a critical time of year. It is only made possible through the collective effort and generosity of thousands of volunteers, individuals, community organisations and companies who donate money, time, skills, goods and services.

This year guests will be welcomed at over 13 centres across Britain and offered food, clothing, health services and a chance to relax. But the work does not end there. They offer their guests individual advice and support and encourage them to go to their year-round service centres in the New Year.

In 2016, they welcomed 4,706 guests across London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Coventry and Newcastle, supported by more than 10,859 volunteers.

About Crisis

Crisis is the national charity for homeless people. They help people directly out of homelessness, and campaign for the social changes needed to solve it altogether.

FHT Members – we know that many of you have been kind enough to support Crisis in previous years. Please let the FHT know if you support Crisis this Christmas, as we’d welcome a short write-up for International Therapist.

Being physically active can improve your mental health

Fitness dancing

Physical activity can play an important role in building resilience and supporting mental health recovery, according to mental health charity, Mind.

The above findings are revealed in the Get Set to Go Programme
Evaluation Summary, a report on a landmark two year project to help people with mental health problems get active.

With help from Sport England and the National Lottery, the project has seen more than 3,500 people take part in physical activity projects across the country.

The project also showed that people who were physically active on a regular basis were more likely to experience better wellbeing.

Seeing the benefits of physical activity on mental health, those who took part have, on average, increased their physical activity by 1.3 days each week.

Read the full report




Don’t swallow essential oils

This news item is aimed at members of the general public who have been advised that it is safe to ingest (swallow) essential oils.


The FHT is very concerned by a growing number of reports that members of the public are being advised that it is safe to ingest (swallow) essential oils, or take them internally.

In the FHT’s opinion, taking essential oils internally can be extremely dangerous. Although essential oils are produced from plants and are ‘natural’, they are very powerful products and can have serious side effects if not used properly.

If you would like to use essential oils at home, it is very important that you seek the advice of a professional and suitably qualified aromatherapist. To find an aromatherapist in your area, search the FHT’s Accredited Register, which has been approved by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.

Please share this link with anyone you think may benefit from the information.

Click here to read the FHT’s full statement on the ingestion of essential oils.

Attending live golf is good for your health

Golf 123rf

Golf spectators aren’t limited to a seat, as with many other sports, and are instead free to walk around the courses.

On average, Paul Lawrie Matchplay spectators walked an average of more than 11,589 steps, with more than 82% meeting daily physical activity recommendations and more than 60% expressing an interest in becoming more physically active after watching golf.

Golf spectators at the 2014 Ryder Cup collectively walked four times around the world.

First published in International Therapist, Autumn 2017, Issue 122

See an infographic on the health benefits of golf


Ten top tips for International Stress Awareness Day

Susan Scott, author of How To Prevent Burnout (October 2017) and How To Have An Outstanding Career (May 2017) offers ten top tips for dealing with stress.


  1. Increase your personal stress awareness. Recognise the symptoms. These can be physical, emotional, behavioural or psychological. Consider what might be causing you to feel the way you do and what action might be required to address the causes. If you’re finding it hard to identify the causes, keep a stress diary, recording the events that caused you to feel bad and how they made you feel.


  1. Review your diet and lifestyle with honesty. What are you drinking, smoking and eating? Has this changed recently? If yes, and you’re drinking or smoking more or relying more on sugary carbohydrate foods to get you through the energy slumps then you need to make changes as this self-medicating isn’t helping.


  1. Balance your energy. Stress increases our demand for certain nutrients such as vitamins C, B, zinc and protein. It’s important to eat unprocessed foods to optimise your nutrient intake. Always have something to eat by 10am to balance blood sugar and drive up energy. Having some protein along with carbs at each meal, such as chicken, salmon and cheese, really helps to balance blood sugar and give you more sustainable energy.


  1. Have a health MOT. The stress response raises blood pressure and cholesterol, leads to imbalances in your blood sugar response and strain on the function of the liver and kidneys. Get these checked out with your GP to ensure stress doesn’t lead to ill-health.


  1. Take some time to switch off the on-button. Take time out during the chaos of the day to be on your own and practice a relaxation technique. Choose a quiet place away from people, where you can sit or stand quietly. Taking three deep breaths is a useful technique to reduce elevated stress hormones and lower a racing heart rate.


  1. Take regular exercise. Book an appointment in your diary for some physical exercise such as a brisk walk at the local park, a cycle ride or a swim at a local pool at least three times a week. This is one of the best ways to use up excess stress hormones but it will only happen if you schedule it into your busy working life.


  1. Make a resolution to manage your time more effectively. If you’re disorganised, make a to-do list. If you’re a perfectionist, identify a cut off point or time allocation. Prioritise your workload and say ‘no’ if you’re in danger of over committing yourself. If you do this calmly but firmly stating the reasons why, you will not feel so guilty about it.


  1. Deal with problems when they arise. The worst thing you can do is to let them fester. Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem go away, in fact it’s likely to become worse and the longer it goes on the more it plays on your mind, stressing you.


  1. Switch off in the evening. But not with alcohol. Alcohol is a stimulant which upsets the sleep pattern. Digital technology is also a stimulant so have a digital sundown and switch everything off at least two hours before bed.


  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Speak in confidence to your manager or HR director. If you feel the processes are not in place for this then contact a specialist stress coach to help you identify what is really happening in your life and guide you to creating stress proofing strategies. The sooner you can overcome the stress-inducing pressures and build your resilience, the sooner you will be back working at full speed and optimising your performance.





Music can help clients change their tune

piano-instrument-music-keys-159420In our last issue of International Therapist, our regular case study feature came from Nicolle Mitchell, who discussed her treatment of a client living with dementia. We documented her treatment plan and approach, as well as the client’s history.

We’ve now received an update via Facebook from Nicolle, which touches on other aspects of her client’s treatment. She writes:

This gentleman, is a lover of jazz & musician. He is usually very vocal & often does not know when he is being vocal which I interpret as frustration, distress and having unmet needs. He cannot walk or see. Within minutes he had quietened and started to pick out rhythms with his fingers. I quietly watched & delighted in his joy & engagement.

We’ve also looked at other benefits music can confer. In our latest issue of International Therapist, we hear from Dr Stella Compton Dickinson about ways that music can improve wellbeing.

You can read Nicolle’s original case study here. Her update on Facebook is here. And our latest article, on the benefits of music, is here.

We also love hearing from our members about their work. If you have a similar case study you’d like to submit, contact our deputy editor, Dan Ralls, at

Want to receive our magazine right to your front door? Join us today to keep up to date on the latest in therapy news and trends.

Do the emotions play a role in chronic pain?


Chronic pain can be extremely debilitating, causing significant emotional distress, but could emotions play a far bigger role in how and why we experience pain?

The FHT recently attended the SIRPA (Stress Illness Recovery Practitioners Association) Conference 2017, entitled Chronic Pain: the role of emotions, to find out more about this fascinating topic. The conference was excellent, with engaging talks from a range of expert speakers, from various backgrounds, including medicine, clinical psychology and academia.

SIRPA founder, Georgie Oldfield, began the conference by highlighting the pioneering work of Dr John E Sarno, who believed chronic pain was predominantly caused by unresolved emotional turmoil. Sarno’s legacy informs much of the work on chronic pain and the emotions today.

Science writer Donna Jackson-Nakazawa was the first guest speaker, outlining links between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and chronic pain. People who had experienced four or more ACEs were said to be more at risk of chronic pain and other negative health outcomes. Jackson-Nakazawa also identified a number of strategies that could help with the management of chronic pain, such as ‘writing to heal’, mindfulness, yoga and meditation.

Matt Kinal, a specialist in pain science, followed this by talking about how the body responds to stress. Using a number of studies as examples, he explained how childhood trauma could alter levels of cortisol in the body and how pain could be caused by a vicious cycle between the body and brain.

In a very well-presented and humorous talk Howard Schubiner MD was next up, stating that ‘the reign of pain lies mainly in the brain’. Giving examples, he told delegates that people could be pain free with serious injuries and experience significant physical pain without any sign of injury.

Sally I’Anson, a secondary school teacher who suffered from severe and debilitating chronic pain then shared her own moving story of recovery.

David Clarke MD followed this by exploring links between ACEs and medically unexplained symptoms. He went on to say that childhood stress knocks down self-esteem on a long-term basis and can lead to personality traits that are valued externally, particularly in the workplace, which will in turn help raise self-esteem over time.

After a break, Dr Christos Christophy started the afternoon talks with a dramatic story of a man whose chronic pain was so severe, he amputated his own hand. Christophy looked at what subjectivity tells us about chronic pain and recovery, with quotes from a number of people who had suffered with chronic pain.

Spine surgeon, David A Hanscom MD was the penultimate guest speaker. Taking a whole person approach to treating chronic pain, Hanscom stressed the importance of getting enough sleep and shared a powerful testimony from a client with severe pain, who had benefited significantly from ‘expressive writing’.

The final speaker of the day, Dr Angela Cooper, talked about diagnosing and treating emotional factors in mind-body symptoms through a system called ISTDP (Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy). Cooper talked about how unconscious feelings and anxiety and avoidant behaviours could lead to mind-body symptoms and shared the story of a client who she was able to help with this approach.

A major strength of the conference was the way each speaker complemented the subject matter in the previous talks, by simultaneously reinforcing concepts that were already presented and furthering the discussion through their own approaches and research.


Look out for an article by Dr Carol Samuel on how stress is linked to pain in the Autumn issue of International Therapist, out tomorrow. In the article Carol references a study on pain and emotion coauthored by Howard Schubiner MD.