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.

Psychologies readers wrap their minds around mindfulness

Sean Collins pictureThe FHT was delighted to receive a request from Psychologies for a web article by Seán Collins, about how mindfulness techniques can help to protect the health and wellbeing of complementary therapists. A speaker at this year’s FHT Training Congress, Seán teaches meditation and mindfulness to therapists and other health professionals, as well as hospices, charities, corporate companies and universities. He is also a senior mentor within Zenways, where he mentors almost 20 qualified mediation teachers.

You can read his run down on winding down here.

Want to learn more?

Seán will be giving a talk on mindfulness for therapists as part of the 2018 FHT Training Congress, taking place at Holistic Health Show, NEC Birmingham, on Sunday, 20 May and Monday, 21 May.

The two-day event will feature a range of expert speakers, educating you on various topics, from therapy specific modalities to general business advice, all of which will gain you one point to count towards your continuing professional development (CPD)With 24 CPD sessions for you to choose from, don’t miss the opportunity to learn new skills and grow your business.

Sessions cost only £12 for FHT members and £15 for non-FHT members.

Book your FHT Training Congress tickets here

Remember to also register for free entry to the Holistic Health Show on their website here.

FHT 2018 Training Congress at Holistic Health

Low-cost CPD with expert speakers at FHT’s 2018 Training Congress – Get your tickets NOW!

FHT 2018 Training Congress at Holistic Health

The FHT is proud to be hosting the 2018 FHT Training Congress at the Holistic Health show in Birmingham. The two-day event will feature a range of expert speakers, educating you on various topics from therapy specific modalities to general business advice, all of which will gain you one point to count towards your continuing professional development (CPD). With 24 CPD sessions for you to choose from, don’t miss the opportunity to learn new skills and grow your business.

mary and maria

FHT Vice Presidents Mary Dalgleish and Maria Mason both gave two talks at the 2017 FHT Training Congress.

The FHT Training Congress is being held in three private seminar rooms, just outside of the Holistic Health Show hall in hospitality suites, 28, 29 and 30. You can find the training congress using this map. Also, come and see the FHT stand at D12 and D18 to chat to the team and enjoy discounts in your Members’ shop.

Remember to also register for free entry to the Holistic Health Show on their website here.

Sessions cost only £12 for members and £15 for non-members.

1cpdroundel1Here’s a snapshot of what’s on this year…
  • Ayurvedic foot massage
  • Effective use of crystals for stress and anxiety
  • Laughter yoga
  • Kinesiology taping for the athlete
  • Fascia – facts and fiction
  • Charge what you’re worth and get it
  • Mindfulness for therapists and their therapies
  • Getting the most out of social media

Book your FHT Training Congress tickets here

speaker triptych

Emma Holly, Highly Commended for 2017 FHT Complementary Therapist of the Year, gets a hometown highlight

HERTFORDSHIRELIFE COVEREmma Holly, Highly Commended for 2017 FHT Complementary Therapist of the Year, has been featured in Hertfordshire Life magazine for her work with charities.

The local publication highlights ScarWork, a unique therapy with only around 100 qualified practitioners in Britain.

Read the article here.


Natural Health gets harmonious with Ayurvedic massage

NATHEALTHFEB18Ayurveda is an ancient Indian holistic system, based on achieving physical and mental harmony with nature and has been practised for more than 5,000 years. Ayurveda quite literally translates as ‘science of life’ (‘Ayu’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ meaning science), and was first recorded in the Vedas, the world’s oldest surviving literature.

One component of this system with numerous benefits is Ayurvedic massage. We help Natural Health magazine readers ease into this relaxing and re-balancing therapy with a full page feature, detailing what to expect during an Ayurvedic massage treatment session and how it can form part of a more holistic lifestyle.

Read our Ayurvedic massage feature here.


In The Moment feels out reiki

in the moment issue 7 jan 18Have you always wanted to try reiki, but didn’t know what to expect? You can learn all about this wonderful therapy in our latest contribution to In The Moment magazine.

In The Moment is a beautiful, practical lifestyle magazine for the modern-thinking creative woman. Enjoy practical creative projects, positive features and stories to inspire, adventures near and far for a healthy body and mind, and ideas embracing every aspect of women’s lives: friends, family, self, work, rest and play!

And in their seventh issue, readers will find an introduction to reiki. Our own Karen Young, editor of International Therapist magazine, and Julie McFadden, the FHT’s resident reiki master, discuss what you can expect from a reiki treatment, as well as things to avoid.

Reiki is one of the therapies on our Complementary Healthcare Therapist Register. Find out more about our Accredited Register here, and read our reiki feature here.

FHT Excellence Award Winner Emma Holly

2017 FHT Excellence Awards Emma Holly Mary Dalgleish

Healing Hands Network has featured one of our 2017 FHT Excellence Awards winners. Emma Holly, Highly Commended for Complementary Therapist of the Year, discusses her introduction to ScarWork, as well as what winning the award means to her.

Read their feature here. You can also catch Emma on Radio Verulam (92.6FM) soon. On 16 January at 11am she’ll be discussing her prestigious award from the FHT as well as her charity work supporting women after breast cancer surgery in St Albans. Learn more about the show she’ll be on, Verulam in the Morning, and listen in on their website.

It is our mission to make the public more aware of the FHT and its members. Our coverage also highlighted the importance of the FHT’s Accredited Register, independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority, and directs readers to search for an FHT member at

The FHT guides Guardian readers on improving their lives in the New Year

Recently, the FHT contributed to the Guardian’s ‘New Year, New You’ supplement. It contained advice on de-stressing, self-care, and mindfulness.

The Guardian - New Year, New You supplement

It is our mission to make the public more aware of the FHT and its members. Our coverage also highlighted the importance of the FHT’s Accredited Register, independently approved by the Professional Standards Authority, and directs readers to search for an FHT member at

President’s Award Profile: Professor George Lewith

In memory of Professor George Lewith – for outstanding contribution to the integrated healthcare

Prof George Lewith1A qualified physician and Professor of Health Research, the late Professor George Lewith was the first doctor in England to receive specialist training in Complementary Medicine. Between 1980 and 2010, he set up and partnered the largest practice of integrated medicine in the UK, with NHS contracts in both Southampton and London. In an obituary published in British Medical Journal, it was commented that, ‘George gained much pleasure from seeing and treating patients and was passionate about treating them as a whole, with great emphasis on holistic care. Thousands of patients feel indebted to George for the compassionate, often life changing, treatment they received.’

Alongside being a practitioner of acupuncture, nutritional and herbal medicine and homeopathy techniques up until 2011, he was also a founder member and trustee of the Research Council for Complementary Medicine in 1982. He also established the Complementary and Integrated Medicine Research Unit at the University of Southampton in 1995, and founded the annual conference on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Strategies, Training, Research and New Developments – or CAMSTRAND, for short. He was a prominent researcher in the CAM field, and passionate about the importance of building the scientific evidence base for complementary medicine. Indeed, he had more than 350 peer review papers published, and raised more than £5 million in research funding – a huge accomplishment, by anyone’s standards.