Making life feel better
Information for patients, their families and carers about the complementary therapy services available at St Michael’s Hospice
The Complementary Therapy team consists mostly of volunteers and therefore not all treatments are available at all times.
Originating in China, this system of healing has developed over 2,500 years and today is used and accepted all over the world.
Acupuncture involves inserting very fine disposable needles into specific points of the body. At St Michael’s, it’s mainly used for relaxation and to alleviate symptoms like pain or nausea.
The Bowen Technique
The Bowen Technique is a gentle, non-invasive touch therapy which can alleviate physical aches and pains and help people attain their natural balance. It can create a deep sense of relaxation.
The patient remains clothed during treatment, which involves the practitioner using their thumbs and forefingers to generate a rolling move on specific points of the body. Between moves, the patient is left in stillness for their body to settle. Physical and emotional benefits may be experienced immediately or occur in the days following treatment.
Breathing and Relaxation
A person’s illness can sometimes restrict their breathing and, because breathing affects the way we feel, learning simple breathing techniques can help people to:
feel relaxed and more in control
enjoy an improved sense of well-being
reduce tension, anxiety and irritability
benefit from improved quality of sleep
Nail and Hand Care
Trained volunteers offer nail care to help improve the condition of hands and nails.
Nails can be filed and shaped, and if requested nail varnish applied. Hands and arms can also be massaged with cream or oil.
Many people feel relaxed and peaceful after experiencing energy balancing.
The therapist works intuitively, using their hands to gently touch points on a patient’s body with the intention of allowing energy to flow into the body, helping balance itself into a better state.
Hypnotherapy can induce a relaxed and comfortable state which helps patients more readily accept beneficial suggestions and act upon them.
It can be used as a means of reducing stress and anxiety, and to help with pain management and symptom control.
The hypnotic state is entirely natural, comfortable and relaxing, and the patient remains in complete control throughout.
Indian Head Massage
Indian Head Massage can be a stimulating, yet very relaxing massage. It can improve the condition of the scalp, hair and skin by increasing circulation. Parts of the body treated include the upper back, shoulders, arms, neck and face.
Laughter Yoga is a way of encouraging people to laugh for the sake of laughing. It uses silly exercises and games to encourage playfulness which, alongside yogic breathing (Pranayama) and gentle stretching, can help people change their state of mind.
When people feel positive, it can make pain and discomfort (both physical and emotional) more bearable.
Laughter yoga can be taught in groups or individually.
The ‘M’ Technique® is a type of structured touch that many people find deeply relaxing. The technique’s gentle and repetitive stroking make it suitable for all patients. Being easy to learn family and carers can be taught how to practice the M technique as a means to help comfort their loved ones.
Massage can be very effective at reducing symptoms such as pain, stiffness, tension and anxiety. After a massage, most people feel more relaxed and more able to cope with their illness.
The origins of the word massage come from ancient Arabic language and means to stroke, anoint or touch. Massage helps warm and soften soft tissue and muscles increasing circulation and bringing a sense of ease.
The pressure and techniques used can be gentle or firm depending on need. Oil is often used, but people may remain clothed if they wish.
Listening to carefully-selected music combined with easy-to-learn breathing techniques can calm and soothe mind and body.
The therapy may involve drawing to music, and sessions can be helpful for managing anxiety, easing breathlessness or simply allowing people to experience a deep sense of relaxation while offering psychological and emotional support.
Reflexology is a relaxing foot or hand massage based on the principle that areas on the feet and hands resonate with different parts of the body.
The reflexologist uses small movements of their thumbs and fingers to stimulate areas of a patient’s feet and hands.
This can improve physical and emotional well-being and may help bring relief from various conditions.
Reiki is a stress-reduction and relaxation therapy that originated in Japan. It is a gentle, non-invasive treatment using light or no touch and can be given lying down or sitting while remaining clothed.
Reiki works with the body’s natural energy system, helping the flow and balance of energy in the body. It can help on a physical, psychological and emotional level.
This is a deeply relaxing treatment, which may help reduce pain, anxiety, nausea, stress and tension, as well as improving sleep and an overall sense of well-being.
Shiatsu (meaning ‘finger pressure’ in Japanese) promotes balance and relaxation by increasing awareness of different parts of the body. The practitioner uses the gentle pressing, stretching and holding techniques to increase the recipient’s awareness of different parts of their body.
The patient remains fully clothed in the position they feel most comfortable.
During a sound therapy session, the patient rests on a chair or bed while the therapist creates sounds with instruments like tuning forks, singing bowls, chimes, harps, gongs and voice.
Sound therapy can help with symptoms of stress such as insomnia, anxiety, panic and headaches. It can deeply relax and revive mind and body.