Complementary therapies can help promote relaxation and reduce tension, alleviating feelings of anxiety and helping promote sleep. It’s a really important way to help patients and their families who are facing all the stress that serious illness brings.

We have light, airy and welcoming therapy rooms and offer a range of complementary therapies that can be used alongside conventional medical treatment to help relieve pain and reduce symptoms.

The Complementary Therapy Team consists mostly of volunteers who all all highly trained and experienced with a real passion for helping people. Due to them being volunteers, not all treatments are available at all times. This list of treatments may also change from time to time.

Who can use our complementary therapies?

Our therapies are available to all patients and their carers/families who are using any of our other services. Treatments are provided in patients’ rooms, in the Day Hospice, and in the beautiful complementary therapy treatment rooms.

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.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to improve health and wellbeing. These essential oils are concentrated natural oils made from plants. Each essential oil has properties that are believed to give different health benefits.

In an aromatherapy treatment, the aromatherapist and client chat and together, choose appropriate oils. These oils can either be blended and diluted and the oil blend then gently massaged into the body allowing maximum absorption through the skin as well as inhalation of the vapours, or a few drops of the chosen oils are added neat to either an oil diffuser or aroma stick and the vapours inhaled. 

As well as the pleasure of the smells and massage, aromatherapy is believed to boost wellbeing and relieve stress and anxiety. Dependent on the oils used it can be calming or stimulating. Some oils may encourage sleep, deepen breathing, ease nausea. Others are valued for such things as their anti-inflammatory effects or their abilities to fight off infection.

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.

Not available at the current time

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

Breathing and relaxation techniques can be offered in person, via Zoom or by phone.

Cranio-Sacral Therapy is a nurturing, gentle touch therapy which has roots in osteopathy. The practitioner holds the patient in key places and feels for pulls, twists, imbalances and rhythms within the body. The therapy encourages a deep relaxation which allows the body to unwind and release physically, emotionally and psychologically.

The patient remains fully clothed.

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 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 fun exercises and games to encourage playfulness which, alongside yogic breathing (Pranayama) and gentle stretching, can improve overall wellbeing

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.

You can listen to and download relaxation music below:

Guided relaxation

Pure tambura

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.

Not available at the current time

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. The practitioner uses gentle pressing, stretching and holding techniques to stimulate acupressure points and increase awareness of different parts of the body. The breath is also used to help release tension. 

The patient remains fully clothed in the position they find the most comfortable.

During a sound therapy session, the patient rests in a chair or bed while the therapist creates sounds with instruments like tuning forks, singing bowls, chimes, harps, gongs and voice. The sound vibrations encourage a deep relaxation and help switch-off an overthinking mind.

Sound therapy can help with symptoms of stress such as insomnia, anxiety, panic and headaches. The deep relaxation can help change mood, bring focus, clarity and insight.

Gong bath

From relaxation and reflexology to yoga and mindfulness, our support videos can provide help.

Below is a guided reflexology session designed to help you drift off to sleep.   

For full effect you should listen when you are sitting still or lying down, in a relaxed position with no distractions such as TV’s, radios, or phones.

Do not listen whilst you are driving or moving around.

Our full list of Complementary Therapy and Mindfulness Support Videos can be found here