FHT Virtual Conference: Dr Kate Beaven-Marks

Presentation: Self-Care Approaches with BLSDr Kate Beaven-Marks

Whichever complementary therapies you offer, do you ever make time for your own self-care? In order to be the best therapist that you can be, then training and experience are important, and so is your own health. To be there for others, you need to be there for yourself first. Indeed, you may take care of your body with hydration, good food and exercise. Now you can learn a range of self-care approaches and development tools which will help you take care of your mind.

 In my presentation I will talk about how to use a concept called ‘bilateral stimulation’ (BLS) which uses alternating right and left hemisphere stimulation to activate and integrate information, such as healthy resources. BLS, a key component of EMDR therapy (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) can be easily undertaken by the self, simply by clicking, tapping, looking or moving in certain ways. You will learn these, together with how to apply a range of self-applied BLS techniques.

Firstly, well-formulated goals that meet your core values give you a starting point and a direction in which to focus your efforts. Using BLS when developing SMART goals and core values will help strengthen your connection to these.

Secondly, BLS can be effectively employed to enhance the development of a mental favourite place of relaxation (FPOR). This offers a useful ‘time out’ from a busy day and just a few minutes spent in your FPOR can be more refreshing and revitalising than a nap if you are feeling tired or pressured.

Also, the mental relaxation can form a superb starting point for affirmations (positive self-statements) which can be used, with BLS, to strengthen someone’s sense of self, enhancing self-esteem and boosting resilience.  

Bringing all these individual tools together, you can then use mental rehearsal with BLS to practice how you would like to feel and respond in future situations.

In addition, in the presentation, you will learn how to address any stress, unwanted thoughts, feelings or sensations, with a range of simple yet effective self-soothing BLS approaches.

Finally, a little about me. My earlier career in risk and health management (including high risk and heavy industries, education and local government) led to an interest in the psychology of communication and how we can use language most effectively. Incidentally, much of my learning was distilled into my book, ‘How to Communicate More Effectively’. Even then, I had a passion for teaching and presenting at conferences, both UK-based and international.

You will find that my ‘official’ bio now talks about me being an experienced clinical hypnotist, hypnotherapist and trainer, teaching with HypnoTC and creating courses with Hypnosis-Courses.com (co-founder), as well teaching within Universities, Colleges and in the NHS. This work is supported by my extensive studies and research, including my MSc in Psychology exploring the relationship between mindfulness, anxiety and hypnotic suggestibility.

As part of my doctoral research, where I studied hypnotherapy teaching and learning from a professionalism perspective. I completed training with many (200+) international hypnosis and hypnotherapy training providers, and now have a personal library of hypnosis-related books and resources that would likely appeal to even the most avid enthusiast.

The additional benefit of all this study and research is being able to apply those vast resource of skills and knowledge for a broad range of practical applications including work in medical and surgical hospital environments, maintaining a busy London-based hypnotherapy practice, and, of course, my hypnotherapy teaching.

My ‘official bio’ also mentions my work and passion for contributing to the hypnotherapy profession and raising hypnotherapy education standards, with an advisory role for the CNHC (on the profession specific board for hypnotherapy) and as Chair of the British Society of Clinical Hypnosis (BSCH).

However, you may also like my ‘unofficial’ bio…. I like pretty much everything and anything hypno-related.

Before I did anything else, my first job was teaching roller skating, including some of the dancers for Starlight Express!

A definite ‘speaker junkie’ I love being in front of a group speaking about anything hypno-related. I have spoken to groups from two people, up to 1100, in the UK and internationally and regularly presents online, as well as in person, not just for hypno, but for all types of events from corporate settings, to risk management, health and wellbeing, safety and even educational conferences.

Another passion is writing. This started when I co-authored Sam the Sleepy Sheep. A story book that uses hypnotic language to help children sleep better. I then wrote my communication book and learned so much from that process, such as that it really could have been a series of books, rather than one huge volume. My presentation skills were already a contributor to my HypnoDemoTM training programme, and then formed the basis for my book, Powerful Hypnosis Presentations: The HypnoDemoTM Approach. My most recently published book, Persuasive Therapy: 101 Ways to Influence your Therapy Clients is receiving fantastic feedback from not just hypnotherapists but also talking therapists, physical therapists and medics as well. Finally, on the topic of books, there is a new book in the editing stage. I am already so excited about publishing it. Keep an eye on my website as it will be launched there first.

Virtual Conference 2022: Rory Z Fulcher

An Interview with Rory Z Fulcher

My name is Rory Z Fulcher, and I’m a hypnotherapy trainer, author and speaker. I’ve been using hypnosis to help people since around 2004, and I’ve been teaching hypnosis and hypnotherapy for over 9 years now.

Tell us a bit of background about yourself… (Why and how did you get into the industry? What did you do before?)

I started to learn about hypnosis as a teenager, with an interest that was developed from reading fiction books and watching movies. I noticed that hypnosis was featured quite frequently and I wondered if it was something that anybody could learn. So, I went to my local bookshop at the time, and picked up the one book that they had on the topic of hypnosis, and from that point I was hooked. I Began by practicing on myself, and the very first thing that I did with hypnosis was that I stopped myself from smoking, and it worked fantastically well. I then moved forwards and started helping friends, family, and eventually, paying clients.

Hypnotherapy wasn’t my main profession after I left college, I was doing it more as a hobby at the time, and to earn a little extra spending money as I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I tried many different jobs and spent a couple of years travelling the world, during which time I continued to practice and develop my hypnosis and hypnotherapy skills, reading everything I could find, and taking various courses on the topic. As it turned out, no other job that I tried felt anywhere near as suitable for me as hypnotherapy. Before I became a hypnotherapist, I worked in bars, restaurants, hotels, offices, building sites, and even in a couple of bands, but hypnosis was always on my mind throughout.

Fast forward to over a decade later, having worked with hypnotherapy clients throughout the UK and beyond, I now spend the majority of my time teaching hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and I have even written five popular books on the topics of hypnotherapy, rapid hypnosis, hypnosis for weight management, stage hypnosis, and a fantastic book that uses hypnotic language to get children to go to sleep.

Are there any challenges you have had to overcome as a therapist? How have you overcome these?

One of the main challenges to overcome as a hypnotherapist was when I started out. This was when the internet was not quite as prolific as it is now, as such it was more difficult to learn exactly what I needed to learn in order to work as a professional hypnotherapist. My initial training in hypnotherapy was rather piecemeal, as I taught myself from all the books and videos I could find (before I went on, later, to engage in full training). So, a lot of what I did in my early hypnotherapy sessions was trial and error. I read everything that I could find on the topic of hypnotherapy, so had a good grounding in a lot of theory, but putting it into practice was often a bit like a baptism of fire. Sometimes it went really well, other times it was a bit more difficult. However, I feel that those initial experiences, and having to find my way around how hypnotherapy worked for myself, has made me hypnotherapist that I am today. That said, if, in the past I had the opportunity to take one of the fantastic hypnotherapy courses that are available now, who knows, I might be even better at it!

What interests you outside of work? (How do you normally spend your spare time?)

Outside of hypnotherapy, I spend a lot of my time with my wife and son, looking after our menagerie of animals, which currently includes 16 chickens, 5 cats, 2 rabbits and a hamster! I love to read fiction stories, with a preference for psychological thrillers and horror stories, Stephen King is one of my favourites. Also, like many people, if there’s time it can be great to binge watch the odd series on Netflix or similar. I also love to cook, so can quite frequently be found in the kitchen, cooking up a storm (or making a mess).

What is your seminar about and what can viewers expect to come away with?

My seminar is all about rapid inductions. These are fast ways to get somebody into a state of hypnosis, which are commonly used by hypnotherapists for a number of different reasons. Not all hypnotherapists use the more ‘traditional’ slower method of hypnotising people (by simply talking them gradually into hypnosis), and in some cases they need to be able to hypnotise people rather quickly (such as with people who are in acute pain).

During this seminar, you can expect to come away with the foundation of knowledge required in order to hypnotise people quickly for yourself. In less than an hour, I cover four different rapid inductions, all at a very rapid pace, so you’ll really get your money’s worth.

One thing that I would suggest, if you are watching this seminar, is to not only watch it, but put it into practice and have a go at doing it yourself. It truly is the best way to learn these skills!

What is it about your topic that appeals to you and why is it useful for therapists?

Rapid inductions and hypnotising people fast is something that I am very well known for, and my book on the topic is testament to this, being one of the most popular rapid induction guide books on Amazon. These techniques seem relatively simple on the face of it, but there are a lot of intricate details that happen ‘behind the scenes’ (so to speak) that make them highly effective.

When I first started using rapid inductions, people would frequently ask me to teach them how I do it, and my love of rapid inductions grew and grew from there. They are a fantastic tool for any hypnotherapist, or other talking therapists using hypnosis within their sessions, but it’s not just that… Rapid inductions appear to be almost magical, in that they happen so quickly. Often, people think that they must be fake, because they are that fast and effective. This is why I love using and teaching rapid inductions, and will continue to do so for a long time.

What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practice?

My one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practices, is to get out there and be visible. Whether that’s online, or in person, you need to be seen in order for people to find you and to choose you as their therapist. It can be as simple as just talking to people wherever you go about what you do, or as complex as creating a full, all-singing, all-dancing marketing plan in order to get yourself and your brand in front of others, but you need to do it in order to succeed as a professional therapist.

What do you consider to be the most important traits for a therapist to have?

In my opinion, the most important trait for somebody to have as a therapist is empathy. You need to actually give a s*** about the person in front of you, rather than just seeing them as somebody who’s paying your bills. Not only does this empathy come across in the therapy session to your client, but I feel that is also influences the way that you think about them, and the way that you work with them during the therapy session.

When thinking about important traits, empathy is closely followed by intelligence and logic. Now, I’m not talking about ‘book smarts’, or the ability to solve mathematical equations, but more about being able to gain, process and use both the clients information and all of the skills that you have at your disposal in order to create a bespoke solution for each client that you work with. If you have that therapist’s logic along with empathy, you’re likely to be a fantastic therapist.

If you’d like to find out more about Rory Z Fulcher, you can find him using the details below:

Rory’s website: https://www.Rory-Z.com

Rory’s hypnotherapy training company: https://www.HypnoTC.com

Rory’s online hypnosis training courses: https://www.Hypnosis-Courses.com

Virtual Conference 2022: Wael Mahmoud

An Interview with Wael Mahmoud

Tell us a bit of background about yourself… (Why and how did you get into the industry? What did you do before?)

I am an Osteopath and Acupuncturist. I graduated from the British School of Osteopathy (BSO) London in 1985. I am the Director of CPD Health Courses, which provides Dry Needling Education to Manual Therapists in Australia and the U.K. In Melbourne, Australia, I am also in private practice. I mentor my daughter, Amina, a final year Osteo student at V.U. In 1987 I migrated to Australia to take up the position of Head of Clinical Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne. I lectured in Biomechanics, Clinical Methods, Orthopaedics & Osteopathic Manual Therapy as part of my role. In 1998 he continued his teaching career as a Senior Lecturer in Osteopathic Manipulation Technique at Victoria University, Melbourne. I have been a guest lecturer for the Australian Osteopathic Association Continuing Education Program and president of the Australian Osteopathic Association between 1990‐1992.

Recently, I published a book, Two Hands: The Gamechanger Guide for Manual Therapists, which aims to bridge the gap between private practice and undergraduate training as an allied health professional.

Are there any challenges you have had to overcome as a therapist? How have you overcome these?

Hundreds of challenges, ranging from staff leaving at the worst time, burnout after working 70+ hours a week, unable to find reception staff, I was audited by the private health funds, and of course, balancing working in the business with working on the business. The single most important tool I used was to welcome failure and challenges. These are invaluable gifts that you can learn from.

What interests you outside of work? (How do you normally spend your spare time?)

My work is my hobby. Since selling my practice in 2013, I now own and operate CPD Health Courses, the largest provider of dry needling education in Australia. We also present courses in the U.K. A patient once asked me the same question; I answered by saying that my happy place is sitting in front of my computer and creating content for my customers. I love the sense of achievement. When I’m not doing that, I love travelling overseas and visiting my favourite place in the world, Noosa, Queensland, Australia.

What is your seminar about and what can viewers expect to come away with?

My seminar is titled What is Dry Needling? By watching my presentation, you will:

  • Understand the origins and foundations of Rheumatology, myofascial pain syndrome and the myofascial trigger point
  • Compare and contrast the different Dry Needling techniques currently used in practice
  • Evaluate the current research for dry needling efficacy
Acupuncture needle used for dry needling rehabilitation medical treatment for physiotherapy and pain due to physical injury in the hand of the doctor.

What is it about your topic that appeals to you and why is it useful for therapists?

I love dry needling because I can relieve a patient’s myofascial pain quickly and easily. It doesn’t mean that I can forget my hands-on skills; far from it, being an excellent dry needling therapist relies on great palpation skills.

What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practice?

Find your value proposition, which means your “why”. What makes you get out of bed in the morning and into your clinic? You’ll know your “why” when talking about it gives a lump in your throat because of the deep meaning and passion you have for your why.

What do you consider to be the most important traits for a therapist to have?

To constantly work at mastering your craft by purposeful practice.

Dark compass with needle pointed at the word Excellence

Virtual Conference 2022: Sunita Passi

Long Covid and Solutions from Ayurveda with Sunita Passi

A lot of us are checking in with ourselves at this point, asking how we are doing and where we are heading, following the word we now live in, after two years of pandemic fever. And for some, cough, fatigue and anosmia (loss of smell and taste) are not the end of the road. “Long Haulers” as they are being dubbed, are carrying symptoms longer term than the general 12 week recover most people will make. The fact that the world is quite different to the way it was two years ago we also have to consider different perspectives of treatment care and how Covid is approached. 

In Ayurveda, we address the whole person and work with this same principle when supporting those experiencing Long Covid. In researching this area as well as working with a variety of clients in my clinic, I have explored the idea of Janapadowamsa, the Ayurvedic classical description of a pandemic, where there is wide spread damage to environment as well as life forms. There is an interesting ancient tale about such a time in the 3rd chapter of the Charka Samhita, a classical Ayurvedic text “Janapada means community, Udhwamsa means destruction, and how over time abnormalities have started to appear in the stars, planets, moon, sun, air, fire, seasons. Very soon the earth will cease to manifest proper tastes, potency, vipaka (after digestion, taste conversion) and prabhava (special effects).” It is an interesting tale which we can learn from and still use now.

Comparing notes from clients, symptom profiles tend to be brain fog, fatigue, exhaustion, not being able to exercise, headaches, chest pain, skin inflammation. Around 1.3 million people are said to be affected but there is no diagnostic test for this and it could easily be that Long Covid is getting confused with other changes the body is going through, such as peri-menopause, menopause, or general exhaustion.

The complex interrelationships between the immune system and a variety of lifestyle factors such as exercise, stress reduction, healthy nutrition, spending time in nature, positive inner attitudes, and well-being are important to consider. Some of those experiencing Long Covid may have felt more severely the challenges faced by people across the globe due to restrictive lifestyle factors such as social distancing and quarantine measures, an element of a forced domestic retreat of varying degrees. So it is ever more important to strengthen resilience through simple preventive means and self-care.

If you recognise yourself with any of these symptoms, you are best to firstly track your inner sanctum – keep a journal, and consider the what things in your immediate environment make cause a depletion in your energy, positive energy matters! A) thoughts, are they negative/positive? Is there fear sadness, anger, fear? Cultivate more positive thoughts. B) Your immediate atmosphere, whether it is home or work. If you spend a lot of time in a messy, dirty environment, it can impact how your health. Improve what surrounds you, organize and clean your environment. C) Gratitude gratitude gratitude! An immediate tool to positively affect your vibration. Integrate this habit into your life and start to thank for everything.

On a practical level, your body has been through an unexpected shock with the infection and what comes with that is depletion of resources. Recharge yourself with:

Vitamin C: evidence has demonstrated reduces the Covid post virus infection

Feasibility of Vitamin C in the Treatment of Post Viral Fatigue with Focus on Long COVID, Based on a Systematic Review of IV Vitamin C on Fatigue – PubMed (nih.gov)

Vitamin D: Vitamin D3 has crucial influence on many functions of the immune system. In a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with supplementation of 400 IU/d, improvements of serum 25- hydroxyvitamin D concentrations were associated with at least a 1.5-fold alteration in the expression of 291 genes, many with relation to immune cell function and inflammatory control.

Frontiers in Medicine | http://www.frontiersin.org 3 December 2020 | Volume 7 | Article 587749 Seifert et al.

MBM | Mind-Body-Medicine: MBM is based on the assumption that interactions between the brain, mind, body, and behavior can be used to activate health promoting pathways. It includes behavioral approaches and techniques in conjunction with exercise, relaxation, meditation, and stress-regulation interventions. MBM has been shown to improve psychological parameters, reduce individual and cellular stress, inflammation, improve immune function, involving epigenetic pathways, thereby facilitating self- and autoregulation, and resilience in general.

Exercise: The positive effects of exercise for general mental and physical health as well as for specific physiological functions including the immune system have been demonstrated in several systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Lack of exercise is one of the most common causes of chronic diseases, making patients more susceptible to infections.

Nature and Forest Therapy: Spending time in nature can be both a preventive and a therapeutic approach that makes use of targeted effects of natural stimuli in forests, urban green spaces, and therapeutic landscapes in order to promote health-related self-regulation mechanisms in individuals

Botanicals:  The use of herbal substances for respiratory viral infections is widespread and there are clinical data that may be relevant during the current pandemic. For the treatment of viral infections of the upper respiratory tract, there are many preclinical data available for individual components as well as for entire plant extracts. A selection of promising herbal medicines (Pelargonium root extract, Sambucus nigra, green Tea, Glycyrrhiza, Echinacea species, Cistus incanus, Cannabinoids) are relevant.

Pelargonium Root Extract In traditional South African medicine, the root Umckaloabo (from Pelargonium sidoides DC) has been the predominant medicine for airways infections. Use and research in Western countries have established its antibacterial and antiviral potential.

Sambucus Nigra For centuries, TMS in Europe and North America have used black elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) for colds and influenza. In-vitro activity against 18 strains of influenza was shown with a syrup, while infected chimpanzees had better recovery from influenza

Green Tea Catechins as a class of polyphenolic flavonoids are the main active ingredients of green tea as well as many other teas, which among other properties can strengthen the immunity against viral, especially influenza infections.

Sunita Passi

Author, Ayurvedic Practitioner, founder Tri-Dosha

Virtual Conference 2022: Suzanne Yates

Q&A questions with Suzanne Yates

Tell us a bit of background about yourself… (Why and how did you get into the industry? What did you do before?)

During secondary school, our PE teacher introduced us to yoga. I didn’t realise at the time how much that would become part of my life. My initial career choice had been to become an accountant, or a journalist and I had initially been accepted by Bristol to read Philosophy and Economics. However, after spending a summer in France, I changed my mind and decided to swap to modern languages. I continued doing yoga and began meditation obtaining a travel grant to study yoga and do voluntary work in India. When I developed a kidney infection I decided to look at other treatments first trying western herbs and then acupuncture. I personally didn’t really like the sensation of the needles. At the same time, there was a shiatsu therapist working in the clinic, so I switched to shiatsu and immediately became “hooked” on receiving bodywork. It felt like coming home to myself. 

I decided to start studying shiatsu after I finished my finals. By then, I was no longer sure what I wanted to do, as I was processing my trip to India and the subsequent 6 months I spent in Senegal, West Africa, as part of my degree. I wrote a novel (which was never published) and found that regular bodywork and yoga helped give me structure and support. At that time, I wasn’t thinking of becoming a therapist  –  I simply wanted to learn more about shiatsu – but I realised that I enjoyed giving shiatsu just as much as receiving it. I also started studying massage because I wanted to work with oils directly on the skin and to understand the muscles and the physical body a little more than we were being taught in shiatsu. I funded the 4-year shiatsu training and other courses by working as a tour guide in Europe. 

Are there any challenges you have had to overcome as a therapist? How have you overcome these?

I feel I have been fortunate because I started studying massage and shiatsu before I had developed a career in anything else. I wasn’t used to a steady income and so it wasn’t a huge challenge like I know it can be for many therapists, to transition from employment to being self-employed and running their own business. I was also fortunate in that later when I decided to have children, my then partner was a homoeopath and yoga teacher, and we were able to support each other. Both being self-employed meant we were able to share childcare, but it also meant that we didn’t have so much time together as a family, which was sometimes challenging. 

As I developed my work, especially my speciality in pregnancy massage, I was invited to teach in many different places. I found it difficult being away from my children. I always remember my first long haul trip to teach in New Zealand. The morning after my long travel, already feeling guilty about being so far away from my children, I woke up to see the Twin Towers being destroyed. People started asking me how I would get home in the immediate aftermath of global flights being grounded.

However being self-employed meant that I could make sure I had time with them when I returned. When they were a little older I would take them on trips with me. Rosa, who is now a yoga teacher, was happy at 16 to spend her time in yoga studios while I taught in Portland, Oregon, US. My son enjoyed visiting the Niagara Falls and wakeboarding, while I was in Canada, collaborating with my Canadian colleagues in the final stages of writing “ Pregnancy and Childbirth”.

What interests you outside of work? (How do you normally spend your spare time?)

Simply being in nature: a garden, a park, or in mountains, forests, by the sea, nourishes me deeply. I also enjoy moving in close contact with nature – swimming in the sea or lakes and rivers or skiing or hiking in the mountains. Partly why I fell in love with Chinese medicine was because of how it sees the human body as a microcosm of the world around us. It helped me understand how profoundly we are connected to nature and the world around us. 

I have lived in Bristol since my University days, and I recently bought a house with some land in France with views of the Pyrenees. I love waking up to see the sunrise above the hills and the horizon all around. I am creating a permaculture garden which includes a mandala. There is a beautiful pavillon where I can run small groups and combine my love of teaching massage and shiatsu, with my love of nature and Chinese medicine. I envisage teaching outside, interacting with nature and linking outside work with the study – for example weaving chakra colours along the line of linden trees outside the teaching pavillon.

I have continued to love travel, often combining it with further study. I was fortunate to return to India to deepen my yoga and meditation practice in the wonderful Sattva Yoga academy just outside Rishikesh in January 2020, just before travel restrictions became enforced. Rosa did her 300 hour Yoga training there and I was drawn to the traditional Kundalini approach and the teacher Anand Mehotra. I did their Warrior of Wisdom training. A few years before, also inspired by Rosa who did her Thai Massage training in Thailand, to travel to Thailand to study womb lifting with a traditional midwife just outside Chiangmai.

I enjoy studying. Because of my interest in pregnancy, I read a lot about the subject and that led me to study embryology, to understand more about the baby. I always love deepening my knowledge on the physical body – reading books on epigenetics but also books on the chakras and other ways of understanding ourselves: books like Bessel van der Kolk’s “The body keeps the score” or Gabor Mate’s work. I did eventually publish 3 books, although not novels, and am working on another, which takes up a lot of my time.

I also enjoy reading novels and poetry – entering another world than our daily world. Another draw of Chinese medicine is the poetic way they express our body – our inner landscape. 

My work is a large part of my life and so things like yoga, meditation, receiving bodywork and looking after myself are also my interests outside of my work. 

Spending time with my family and loved ones is important. My daughter Rosa is now nearly 32 and is a yoga teacher and massage therapist. It is lovely to be able to collaborate with her. She now assists me on the pregnancy massage courses and we are starting to run retreats together. Our next one is in Portugal in June, and we hope to run some more in France.

Image of person practicing Meditation outside

What is your seminar about and what can viewers expect to come away with?

It is about the importance of including the abdomen and baby during pregnancy massage. This first was an issue for me when I received massages and shiatsu during my first pregnancy with my daughter. The therapists wouldn’t touch my abdomen. It felt strange to me, because I massaged it a lot myself and felt it was an important way of communicating with my baby. This led me to study much more about pregnancy massage and realise that a lot of the cautions came from fear or lack of knowledge. 

I want therapists to understand why this is such an important area to connect with and to come away with some safe techniques, which they could use on the mother if she is open to them. If she is not, then we can teach them to her so she can feel confident massaging her own abdomen, or her partner. I also find that many partners are happy to learn what they can do and encourage them to be creative with how they communicate with their baby.. 

What is it about your topic that appeals to you and why is it useful for therapists?

We all understand the importance of pregnancy and childbirth in a woman’s life: however it is also a powerful time for the baby. It is only relatively recently, in the 1940’s, that pre and perinatal psychology and research  has shown that the brain is different and womb memories are pre-verbal. The ancient Chinese understood the importance of this time and that we are influenced profoundly at an unconscious level. 

“Studies show how they (unborn children) are constantly tuned to their mother’s every action, thought and feeling. From the moment of conception, the experience of the womb shapes the brain and lays the groundwork for personality, emotional temperament and the power of higher thought “ (Verny T, 2003)

Pregnancy can be an amazing time because we are supporting new life and supporting the bond between a mother and her baby. It is powerful work. Of course sometimes it can be challenging too, especially when a mother loses her baby, or has a complex health condition. Yet whatever happens, we are working with two beings: building a relationship which will impact them both for the rest of their lives. 

Even if you do not work directly with pregnant women, understanding the experience of being pregnant, will inform your work with any woman who has had children. It also gives you a greater understanding of life in the womb, which we have all experienced.  

What would be your one piece of advice for therapists wanting to grow and develop their therapy practice?

Keep learning, keep discovering more, keep your enthusiasm for your subject. If you feel inspired by what you do, you will always find your way through, even the challenges.

Also make sure that you have plenty of support from the people around you. I have developed my work a lot through teaching and my students, but it is also essential to have people to support you – your peers but also supervisors or other professionals who can support you in your professional and personal development. It’s important to keep learning new skills and so continuing to study is vital. Especially as a teacher, I always try to learn something new each year, so I am reminded of how it is to be a student, learning a new skill. 

What do you consider to be the most important traits for a therapist to have?

That’s tricky to answer because each therapist is different and brings different qualities to their work. However we all need to have a love of the magic of the body and a desire to keep learning about how to support it. It’s also important to be able to communicate on many different levels, physically, verbally and empathically. We need to be aware of how to support the quality of our relationship with our client in a professional way. 

However, perhaps the most important is to enjoy doing what we do. If the passion is  there, we are motivated to do all the things we need to, to keep growing and nurturing both ourselves and our career!

Image of Pregnancy Treatment

Virtual Conference 2022: Martin Thirlwell

An Introduction with Martin R Thirlwell

I am Mr Martin R Thirlwell, a 10th Generation Reiki Master solely specialising in the Usui Shiki Ryoho system of natural healing. My Reiki journey began over 38 years ago whilst I was out in India. At this point in time, Reiki was rippling from Japan- the country of its origin- to the Western world. It rippled through India first before reaching the UK. The healing energy that I witnessed and the superb results that I saw from people receiving reiki had me hooked. It seems quite a strange thing to say but even at this first initial stage I knew that I would be a Reiki Master and not only this, but that I would be teaching Reiki to others. Of course, I had to discover what the healing energy Reiki was, and it wasn’t until my return to the UK sometime later that this journey truly began in earnest. Reiki began to be introduced in the UK so I began to attend many Reiki meetings and gatherings- these are what we now call ‘Reiki Shares’.  These gatherings where a great opportunity to find out all about Reiki energy; to meet like-minded people and a chance to network. My occupation at the time of discovering Reiki in India and up to the time of returning to the UK was as a cabinet maker. I left school at the age of 15 and started to work an apprenticeship with a Manchester company called Raper and Sons, a billiard table manufacturer. After I had finalised my apprenticeship, the Company was bought by a Liverpool Company and everyone was made redundant, so I decided to become self employed at the age of 18.  During the early 1990s, Reiki continued to ripple and be used all over the UK.

Currently, I work with all major hospitals and hospices in the Oldham and Tameside areas, bringing reiki healing to those that are in need. I work with the Oldham NHS hospital treating patients in the amputee chronic pain unit and Manchester Age UK with dementia patients. I support several hospitals from Sheffield to North Wales. An exciting development has been with midwives as I am leading the way with reiki in midwifery at the Safe Active Birth unit in Kendal. I support the Sam Buxton charity which aims to provide a reiki practitioner at the bedside of every cancer patient.

As a Reiki Practitioner, I would say that Reiki is continually evolving as it’s an energy and this energy is becoming stronger. This growth in energy has brought some challenges as we adapt and get used to working in new level of energies. Having said that, this increase in energy has brought many wonderful results when working with clients; I have witnessed great results with clients whilst working in this ever-increasing rise in energy. In my own practice, I work 24/7, 365 days per year. This brings with it the challenges of being called to attend hospitals and hospices in early hours of the morning to assist end of life palliative care clients. Although I have said this is a challenge, I feel that it’s fundamentally wrong for me to treat these as challenges it’s more needed work which is a privilege to be called to do. However, sometimes it is difficult when you are asked to attend several at the same time, it’s difficult to prioritise, so this is where the challenge truly lies. I am extremely proud to be able to do this work.

Outside of work, I am an Assistant Qualified Kite Surfing Instructor, registered with the International Kitesurfing Organisation (IKO). Kitesurfing brings me a feeling of great gratitude and respect- becoming that much closer to Mother Earth, working with the elements of water, sea, and wind. I also enjoy restoring antique clocks and watches. Working on time pieces deepens my respect and acknowledgement of the time we have here living as a soul divine being. There are so many similarities between the moving mechanisms of a clock and our own physical body wellbeing.

Image of Reiki Therapists at Helme Chase Maternity Unit

My Seminar is about Healing Animals at home and in a professional environment. Animals have a soul divine body just like humans do; they suffer from illness and pain just like we do. One thing that differs is that animals cannot speak and let us know what they are feeling and experiencing with pain and illness- unless it’s physical apparent we can’t see it. Working with animals is very enlightening as animals respond intuitively to the energy of Reiki. Animals see and know where Reiki energy needs to enter their body and will move to enable it to happen smoothly. They instinctively know how long they need to receive Reiki for and will know when they have received enough energy. Through watching my seminar, participants will have a great insight and understanding in how to correctly perform animal Reiki and where to address the chakras on an animal. This will be demonstrated in both a home environment and professional environment.

Animal Healing appeals to me for the simple fact that working with animals is a totally different experience than working with Reiki on humans. When giving animals Reiki healing, we are guided to more specific areas of illness and pain, and we feel this direction with a much stronger sense than with humans. Animals can and often do fall asleep and even if the animal is known to generally be agitated or of a nervous disposition, we will still see this settling and sleeping during Reiki; aggressive animals suddenly become calm. Animals give a special kind of love- it’s almost like we can hear what they are saying.

Overall, the intended benefits of Reiki are for physical healing, psychological treatment, and general wellbeing. Reiki may relieve tension or alleviate fears giving a dog a sense of peace, pain relief, and rapid recovery all a result from the Reiki treatment aiding the body’s natural healing process. Reiki is never harmful or painful, the shift in energy created by animal Reiki may at first startle some pets due to the close proximity especially if they are anxious or in pain, if this is the case the pet may prefer you to step away and share the experience from a distance. Reiki for pets can be a wonderful way to support their health and wellbeing, however it is important to remember that it isn’t a substitute for professional veterinary care.  

My Advice for Therapist wanting to grow and develop their own Reiki therapy practice would be to study the original Reiki Usui Shiki Ryoho system, it has a Lineage attached to its source. It’s a mark of gratitude and respect that we adhere to this lineage. My students from 1st degree and especially 2nd degree who want to venture and create their own practices, working from home and even purchasing lease agreements to work more professional from a little business premises etc, are taught and given the knowledge of being respectful and to work with gratitude. Tidiness and cleanliness and the feeling of a wow factor is needed. I have always passed the knowledge to my students as I was passed the knowledge from my Master hence the ‘Lineage’.  Never speak from scripts try and speak from the heart for in doing so you reach the soul of the recipient. Never wear perfumes or strong-smelling scents, never wear dangling jewellery, and always use a fresh clean uniform and make sure all linen is clean and fresh.

The most important traits that a Reiki Therapist should have are many. You need a thorough understanding of people’s needs; highly evolved listening skills and good powers of observation help a Reiki therapist to ascertain the needs of a client. As a practitioner, you should be approachable and easy to talk to with a sense of calmness in any situation. People rely on you in their time of need so as a therapist you must be congruent, reliable, punctual, and create a healthy environment by acting within appropriate ethical boundaries, using evidence-based practice.

As a Reiki therapist you should be genuinely empathetic, trustworthy, knowledgeable, adaptable, non-judgmental, focused on the client, courageous, creative, logical, encouraging, confident, humble, skilled, and resilient. We must also remember that as a Reiki therapist, whilst is important to be collaborative it is equally important to remain self-aware so that you can reach out and accept support for oneself. Above all, as a Reiki Therapist and practitioner you must have an authentic love for helping others.

Image of Reiki treatments taking place by Reiki Tradition

Long Covid Research

We take a look at two pilot studies looking into complementary therapy approaches to support clients with symptoms of long Covid

The Anosmia, Acupressure, Aromastick and Aromapot Project

By project leads, Dr Peter Mackereth, Paula Maycock and Ann Carter

Before COVID 19 emerged, anosmia (the inability to detect odours) was a relatively unknown term outside of medicine; however, olfactory disorders are not new health concerns. Nasal polyps, enlarged turbinates*, as well as degenerative disorders such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s can result in difficulties to detect odours. Patients who have had laryngectomies or tracheotomies may also experience hyposmia (decreased ability to detect odours) due to a reduced or absent nasal airflow. Head trauma and local disease, such as cancer (and some cancer treatments), can be linked with long-term disorders of taste and smell.

For several years, our project team has worked in cancer care with patients experiencing symptoms such as anosmia and xerostomia (dry mouth) – often referred to as ‘difficult to treat’ concerns. To help ease these distressing side-effects of treatment, with some success, we have used various therapies such as acupuncture/acupressure, massage, essential oils and reflexology, often in combination.

The challenge is that most of these symptoms require a series of treatment combinations and ongoing advice and self-care. What we do know is that these challenging symptoms can affect quality of life, in particular depressing a cancer patient’s mood and reducing their appetite (Bernhardson et al, 2009).

Long COVID patients can ill afford the detrimental effects of anosmia, which is often experienced alongside fatigue, breathlessness, muscle and joint pain and insomnia. As therapists, we know that interventions that combine touch techniques with aromatherapy can have benefits on wellbeing. From our review of the literature, we have found that even odour-evoked memories can alter mood and be useful for helping with psychological and physical health concerns (Carter et al, 2019). For someone who has altered ability to smell, even using regular recall of an aroma could be potentially of benefit.

Importantly, there are many factors that can increase and decrease nasal resistance. Both smoking and alcohol increase nasal resistance, as does infective rhinitis – all can compromise the ability to detect odours. Research studies have shown that marked sensation of increased airflow was demonstrated when substances such as camphor, eucalyptus, L-menthol, vanilla, or lignocaine were applied to the nasal mucosa (Chaaban & Corey, 2011).

In the last 12 months, our team has embarked on a pilot project with volunteers. The process seeks to evaluate the combination of twice daily aroma trainings, using three separate pots, each with a pad infused with a different single essential oil. Prior to the inhalations from each of the three aromapots, the volunteers are asked to carry out a tapping routine of specific acupressure points which link to olfaction and gustatory function. During the day, our participants supplement this routine with using an aromastick with the same combination of essential oils used in the three pots. Participants are advised to hold the aromastick 2 to 6cms away from the nostrils, then use a gentle breathing technique, which we call ‘3 Breaths to Calm’. This involves breathing in through the nose and then out through the mouth (Carter & Mackereth, 2019). Usually, this activity can be done before a coffee or tea break and before lunch, so approximately three times a day, linked to consumption of food and drink.

Using questionnaires, we are collecting data at the start of an individual’s personal project and after five weeks of adhering to the routine. Our initial pilot work with six participants revealed improvements in anosmia after three to four weeks of using the protocol. We are also intending to gather qualitative data via interviews with volunteers about the experience of living with anosmia and using our aromatherapy and acupuncture protocol. Our purpose in using the protocol is to stimulate the participants’ parasympathetic response to the triggers of selected aromas, combined with gentle acupressure, so promoting olfactory and gustatory function. Currently we have four students, all aromatherapists, from our recent online ‘Therapeutic Uses of Aromasticks and Aromapots’ course assisting with the project.

We hope to present our work in 2022, once the data has been collected from a larger sample.

*Turbinates are several thin bony elongated ridges forming the upper chambers of the nasal cavities – these increase the surface area allowing for rapid warming and humidification of inhaled air.

Dr Peter Mackereth was the clinical lead of the complementary therapy and wellbeing service at The Christie for more than 15 years. He is currently an honorary researcher and lecturer at The Christie and a volunteer therapist at St Ann’s Hospice. Paula Maycock is a senior complementary therapist at The Christie, Manchester. Ann Carter has worked as a complementary therapist and teacher since 1989 in hospices and the acute sector.

Bowen therapy study

By project lead, Jo Wortley

In February 2021, I joined forces with Dianne Bradshaw* to launch a quantitative observational study that would look at whether Bowen therapy might prove a helpful intervention in improving the symptoms and wellbeing of people affected by long COVID.

The initial aim was to recruit 60 to 70 qualified Bowen practitioners, who would provide a series of six weekly Bowen sessions to self-elected clients (participants) who had been experiencing symptoms of long COVID for six months or more and were eligible to take part in the study. Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP) questionnaires were to be completed by each participant, with all of the Bowen practitioners taking part receiving online training to help them understand the aims and objectives of the study and how to use the MYMOP questionnaires appropriately, in order for the data to be valid.

As with many complementary therapy interventions, in a ‘real world’ situation, Bowen sessions are adapted to meet the needs and presenting symptoms of the individual client, which may change from one session to the next. For this reason, the Bowen practitioners taking part were not required to follow a ‘standardized’ treatment, however they were asked to only use moves learned during their core Bowen training (modules 1 to 5).

At the time of writing (December 2021), I am pleased to report that 30 practitioners managed to complete a series of six treatments with at least one study participant, producing a total of 26 valid sets of data. While I am yet to fully collate and compare the data, the initial results look very promising, with the majority of participants seeing an improvement in one or both symptoms that they were seeking help with, as identified in their MYMOP questionnaires. When comparing data taken from Weeks 1 and Weeks 7 only:

  • 14 out of 15 participants reported an improvement in their fatigue;
  • 12 out of 14 participants reported an improvement in their mobility (walking, jogging or running);
  • 20 out of 22 participants reported an improvement in their general wellbeing 

While these results look very positive, we do need to understand what happens to people who have no intervention over a 7-week period, to establish whether this is ‘normal’ recovery.

It was also very pleasing to see that the vast majority (22 out of 24) also highly recommended Bowen, rating it between 8 and 10 out of 10.

While it’s involved a lot of time and effort, it’s exciting to be leading the way with this study and once it has been published, I will of course ensure that FHT members are made aware of the key outcomes. Although this study obviously focuses on Bowen therapy, it is important that as a community of professional therapists, we all share as much information and best practice as we can, to ensure the long-term safety of our clients and to also demonstrate the potential role that therapies may have in helping to support clients with long COVID, where appropriate.

* Dianne, an experienced Bowen and McTimoney practitioner who worked on both humans and animals, sadly passed away several months after the study was launched. 

Jo Wortley is a Director and Senior Tutor at the College of Bowen Studies, which offers an FHT accredited practitioner qualification in the Bowen Technique, alongside a range of Bowen masterclasses. thebowentechnique.com

Softly Softly: The stats and facts of Long Covid

As part of a short series of articles on Long Covid, we take a look at the latest stats and facts and the results from FHT’s 2021 Long Covid survey

Most people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) have mild to moderate symptoms and recover relatively quickly. However, some people experience ongoing symptoms that can last for four weeks or longer. These symptoms, often referred to as ‘long COVID’ can be highly variable and wide-ranging and are not limited to people who were seriously ill or hospitalized with coronavirus.

What is long COVID?

Interestingly, there is no universally agreed definition of the term ‘long COVID’.

‘Acute COVID-19’ is a term used by health professionals to typically describe the initial signs and symptoms that last up to four weeks. (‘Acute’ refers to the first signs of infection, rather than the severity of the illness.) If symptoms continue after four weeks, then the following two terms are typically used, both of which may also be referred to by the health authorities, researchers and media as ‘long COVID’:

Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19: signs and symptoms of COVID-19 from four weeks up to 12 weeks.

Post-COVID-19 syndrome: signs and symptoms which develop during or after an infection that is consistent with COVID-19, continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by another diagnosis. (NICE, RCGP and SIGN, 2020)

Common symptoms of long COVID

The most commonly reported symptoms include:

Respiratory symptoms

• Breathlessness

• Cough

Cardiovascular symptoms (heart and circulation)

• Chest tightness

• Chest pain

• Palpitations

General symptoms

• Fatigue

• Fever

• Pain

Neurological symptoms

• Cognitive impairment (‘brain fog’, loss of concentration, or memory issues)

• Headache

• Sleep disturbance

• Peripheral neuropathy symptoms (pins and needles, and numbness)

• Dizziness

• Delirium (in older people)

• Mobility impairment

• Visual disturbance

Gastrointestinal symptoms

• Abdominal pain

• Nausea

• Diarrhoea

• Weight loss and reduced appetite

Musculoskeletal symptoms

• Joint pain

• Muscle pain

Psychological/psychiatric symptoms

• Symptoms of depression

• Symptoms of anxiety

• Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Ear, nose and throat symptoms

• Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

• Earache

• Sore throat

• Dizziness

• Loss of taste, smell or both

Dermatological symptoms

• Skin rashes

• Hair loss

(NICE, RCGP and SIGN, 2020)

According to a recent statistical bulletin published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS, 2021), as of 2 October 2021, an estimated 1.2 million people living in private households in the UK were experiencing self-reported long COVID (symptoms persisting for more than four weeks after the first suspected COVID-19 infection, that were not explained by something else). The bulletin also highlighted that:

  • Fatigue was the most common symptom reported as part of individuals’ experience of long COVID (55% of those with self-reported long COVID), followed by shortness of breath (39%), loss of smell (33%) and difficulty concentrating (30%).
  • More than two-thirds (65%) of those with self-reported long COVID said that their symptoms adversely affected their day-to-day activities, with 19% reporting that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been ‘limited a lot’.
  • As a proportion of the UK population, prevalence of self-reported long COVID remained greatest in people aged 35 to 69 years; females; people living in more deprived areas; those working in health or social care; and those with another activity-limiting health condition or disability. (ONS, 2021),

As therapists, it is important to note that anyone who thinks they may have symptoms of long COVID are strongly advised to speak to their GP, who may suggest different tests to find out more about their symptoms and to rule out other underlying causes. (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 2021; NHS, 2021).

While it is difficult to say how long a person’s long COVID symptoms will last, current evidence suggests that in most cases, symptoms will improve over time (NHS infom, 2021).

Members’ experiences of long COVID

In October 2021, we launched a short survey to gain some insight into our members’ personal and professional experiences of long COVID. For the purposes of the survey, we defined long COVID as ‘signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19, which continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis’ (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 2021; NHS 2021).

We would like to say thank you to the 345 members and other therapists who took part in the survey, the key findings of which are outlined below.

About our survey respondents

Of those who completed or partially completed the survey:

  • 88% identify as female, 10% as male and 2% as non-binary/prefer not to say
  • 89% are self-employed (other statuses included students, employees, volunteers and employers)
  • 83% live in England, 5% in Wales, 5% in Scotland, 5% in Northern Ireland, 2% Republic of Ireland or Overseas.

The majority of those who responded are experienced therapists, with 43% practising for 16 or more years, 20% practising between 11 to 15 years and a further 16% practising between six and 10 years.

Seventeen per cent (60) have personally been affected by long COVID, with the most common self-reported symptom being fatigue/tiredness (affecting 78%), followed by a change in sense of taste or smell (60%), problems with memory and concentration or ‘brain fog’ (52%), headaches (52%), shortness of breath (50%), join pain (48%) and muscular/ soft tissue aches and pains (43%).

FHT members’ experience of clients with long COVID

Based on the survey results, 147 respondents (43%) reported that they have supported clients with long COVID, while 107 (31%) reported that they have not supported clients with long COVID. This leaves 91 respondents (26%) who either chose not to comment or dropped out of the survey by this stage.

Of those respondents who indicated they have supported clients with long COVID and who went on to complete further questions in the survey:

  • 90% reported that their clients had spoken to their doctor about their long COVID symptoms;
  • 38% indicated their clients were receiving conventional care (eg. from their doctor) alongside therapeutic support, 30% indicated their clients were not receiving conventional care alongside therapeutic support, and 32% indicated their clients were a mixture of the two.
  • 49% of respondents said their clients had commented that they’d tried conventional care but felt it didn’t improve their symptoms, 40% of clients commented they had struggled to access support from their GP/ the NHS, 38% felt therapeutic intervention would be more appropriate, and 10% didn’t like to put pressure on the NHS system.

In terms of how respondents supported their clients with symptoms of long COVID, 84% reported doing this ‘in person’, 13% over the phone, 13% via a video communication platform, 8% via email, 8% using distance healing/reiki and 4% via post, for example, sending clients aromasticks or other therapeutic products.

The most commonly used treatments to help support clients manage or improve their long COVID symptoms were reflexology (52%), Swedish or body massage (30%), aromatherapy (28%), reiki (22%), remedial massage (19%), sports massage (17%), healing (24%), Indian head massage (24%), myofascial release (12%) and mindfulness (4%).

Clients’ self-reported symptoms and improvements

Below is a table outlining a) some common symptoms associated with long COVID, as worded in the FHT survey b) what signs and symptoms clients reported they were experiencing and c) which symptoms clients felt their therapy treatments had improved:

A Symptom of long COVIDB Percentage of clients experiencing the symptomC Percentage of clients who felt treatment improved the symptom
Extreme tiredness (fatigue)92%75%
Depression or low mood68%56%
Stress or anxiety68%60%
Muscular/ soft tissue aches & pains66%55%
Difficulty sleeping/ insomnia65%56%
Problems with memory/ concentration (‘brain fog’)63%33%
Shortness of breath56%30%
Joint pain52%39%
Headaches48%36%
Change to sense of smell or taste (anosmia)42%12%
Dizziness36%16%
Chest pain or tightness32%21%
Heart palpitations26%12%
Pins and needles25%15%
Cough22%8%
Tinnitus, earaches20%12%
Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach upsets19%10%
Loss of appetite/ weight loss16%5%
Rashes/ dry skin / skin problems11%6%

Adverse or unusual responses to treatment

When asked, ‘Did any of your clients with long COVID experience any contra-actions or unusual responses to your treatments?’, 88% or respondents reported ‘no’ and 12% reported ‘yes’. Where further information was provided, the responses included: the client feeling more tired or symptoms worsening for a day or two after treatment but then much improved after; a change in colour in the urine; feeling slightly sick or faint; the feet jerking or twitching when treated; and heightened emotional release (for example, crying). One respondent commented that, ‘My client had recurrences of purpling on the toe after a couple of treatments (has had probably ten treatments now, weekly). But after discussion with doctors at a hospital appointment for overall long COVID symptoms, they concluded that it was highly unlikely to be related to the massage treatment’.

Adapting treatments for clients with long COVID

In the survey, we asked members if they adapted their treatments when supporting clients with long COVID. Sixty said that they had made adaptations, including:

  • A change of position – treating clients in a seated or supine position rather than prone, to assist their breathing and make them feel generally more comfortable.
  • More gentle treatments, including lighter techniques, reducing pressure, avoiding sensitive areas.
  • Reducing the length of treatments, going at a slower pace and even taking short breaks.
  • Additional pillows and bolsters to support the client and enhance comfort.
  • A number of respondents mentioned using reflexology instead of other treatments, perhaps to avoid physically working/applying pressure to larger areas of the body.
  • More communication than usual was also key – from regularly ‘checking in’ with clients, to spending much longer listening, as clients needed to talk more.
  • Other adaptations including selecting products to use during the treatment or in the treatment area, such as essential oils, to assist breathing and promote relaxation.

Self-care techniques for clients

A total of 115 respondents reported that they had provided their clients with self-care techniques to help them manage or improve their long COVID symptoms. Of these, 17 provided the techniques instead of hands-on treatments, while the other 98 provided techniques to be used alongside (in between) treatments. The most popular self-care techniques shared with clients were:

  • Meditation/ mindfulness/ visualization/ relaxation techniques (51 respondents)
  • Gentle, graded exercises and stretches, including yoga and tai chi practices (43)
  • Breath work/ breathing exercises (40)
  • General guidance and advice around diet and nutrition (31)
  • Essential oil preparations, including aromasticks (28)
  • Working different reflex (reflexology) points (18)
  • Self-massage/ trigger point work (13)
  • Walking/ being outdoors/ fresh air (10)
  • Advice on staying hydrated (10)
  • Asking clients to rest when needed/ to listen to their body (9)
  • Journaling and bench marking progress in writing (5)
  • Therapy-specific self-care techniques, eg. manual lymphatic draining, emotional freedom technique (5)
  • Bach/ flower remedies (4)
  • Salt products, including bath salts and salt pipes (4)

Other self-care techniques provided or suggested included listening to relaxing music, the application of hot and cold products, hypnotherapy techniques and Chinese medicine.

Fifty-two percent of respondents indicated that the self-care techniques helped to improve their clients’ symptoms, 32% indicated these helped some clients but not all, and 16% indicated self-care techniques did not help their clients.

Supporting clients with long COVID

The results of FHT’s survey suggest that certain therapies and self-care techniques may be of benefit to clients experiencing symptoms of long COVID. This is very encouraging, particularly when we consider that many of these symptoms  – including fatigue, stress and anxiety, and muscular aches and pains – can be difficult to treat effectively with conventional medicine (sometimes referred to as ‘effectiveness gaps’). It is also important to bear in mind that, where appropriate, supporting clients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms with complementary and other therapies could also help to take pressure off the NHS, which needs to prioritise clients with acute illnesses. 

However, it is important to note that these survey results do not constitute robust ‘evidence’ and although many long COVID symptoms are typical of what is seen in day-to-day therapy practice, the medical and scientific communities still have much to learn about long COVID, the full impact of the virus on long-term health, and the successful management of long COVID symptoms. This is an ever-evolving situation, with new data and new variants of the virus are regularly coming to the fore.

When it comes to supporting clients with symptoms of long COVID, there are no black and white answers. As with any condition, every client’s experience is unique. Some people may experience severe or debilitating symptoms that impact their daily lives and quality of life, others may have more mild and ‘irritating’ symptoms. Some will see their symptoms wax and wane, overlap and change over time, others will wake up one morning and notice their symptoms have gone. Some may have pre-existing health conditions as well as long COVID symptoms. Others will be receiving ongoing medical care and assessment. And some may think they have long COVID symptoms, when in fact there is another underlying cause (which is why anyone who thinks they have symptoms of long COVID should be encouraged to see their doctor).

What is key is that any therapist looking to support a client with symptoms of long COVID follows the principles of best practice including:

  • First, do no harm. If in doubt, or you simply feel uncomfortable about treating someone, do not treat them.
  • If you have any cause for concern about a client’s symptoms, refer them on to their GP or another healthcare professional.
  • If a client is receiving medical care for their long COVID symptoms, ask them to speak to their GP/ health care provider about having treatment before going ahead.
  • Carry out a full and detailed consultation, before every treatment, to help you determine if there are any red flags or health changes that may make treatment inappropriate. The information they provide you will also help you to adapt your treatments accordingly.
  • If, after a full assessment, you and your client are comfortable to go ahead with a treatment:
    • A common phrase used by many therapists is ‘less is more’. Start very gently and take a graded approach (eg. provide shorter treatments with less pressure or exercises than usual to see how your client responds).
    • Adapt your treatments to suit their current needs at that given point in time and to ensure their comfort.
    • Monitor your clients closely throughout the treatment and contact them in the days immediately after for feedback about how they are feeling. Do not go ahead with any further treatments if they raise anything that concerns you and where necessary, advise them to see their GP.
    • Be prepared to spend a little extra time listening to clients with long COVID and validating their symptoms and concerns.   
    • Keep detailed records about their treatments and treatment outcomes.

Remember you can always offer self-care advice or non-hands-on treatments and support to clients who you are concerned about physically treating or who are particularly sensitive to touch.

by Karen Young

Congratulations to our 2021 FHT Complementary Therapist of the Year… Stephanie Quigley, MFHT

Stephanie’s journey as a therapist started in 2007 when she completed a HND in complementary therapy, closely followed by a degree in complementary healthcare. Initially working in private practice, Stephanie took up the role of Patient and Family Support Complementary Therapist at Beatson Cancer Charity, Glasgow, for five years.

She is now the Lead Complementary Therapist at Cancer Support Scotland (CSS), where she is responsible for developing the therapy service, training volunteer therapists and delivering treatments to people affected by cancer. When the pandemic meant that those who usually accessed hands-on therapies through CSS no longer could, Stephanie developed a range of free, remotely accessible services, which many still use today. These include a telephone support service; online self-help guides, audio guides and videos; sending out personalised aromatherapy nasal inhalers; and live online mindfulness sessions. More recently, she developed The CSS Training Academy to provide oncology massage training, which helps to fund the charity’s wellbeing services.

A huge well done to Malminder Gill for achieving the Highly Commended 2021 FHT Complementary Therapist of the Year award!

And many congratulations to our finalists for this award, Basma Gale, Caroline Purvey, Alexandra Skanderowicz and Angela Vigus.

Please revisit our blog just after 2pm, when we’ll be announcing our 2021 Local Group Coordinator of the Year!

Congratulations to our 2021 FHT Local Group Coordinator of the Year… Jackie Hamilton, MFHT

Jackie Hamilton has been Joint Coordinator, with Beverly Chilson, of the Norwich local group since its creation in 2018. The group has gone from strength to strength over the past three years and has excelled throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Jackie was quick to adopt virtual meetings when indoor gatherings were not possible and ensured her group had a varied calendar of events, including baby massage, ear reflexology, marketing and crystals, meaning her attendees could continue their learning, whatever their specialism.

Jackie also runs the very interactive FHT Local Support Group Norwich Facebook page, with over 320 members. Here she uploads recordings of Norwich’s virtual meetings, creating an extensive library of videos that are presented by experienced therapists and tutors, which all members are free to explore. Jackie continues to thrive and work hard for her group, creating a connected and inclusive environment, even when therapists were missing the sense of community they had originally enjoyed at physical meetings.

And many congratulations to our finalists for this award, Alison Brown, Janet Cairnie and Sarah Holmes.

Congratulations to all our finalists and winners! Your work is outstanding and hearing about the positive impact you have on your clients and local communities is inspiring, the FHT are extremely proud to represent all our members.

Don’t forget about 2022 FHT Excellence Awards! More details to follow in the new year…