Posts filed under reflexology

The Value of Mindfulness within Cancer Care

I have been proud to work as a volunteer reflexology practitioner and mindfulness teacher at The Mary Stevens Hospice in Stourbridge.  There is a growing volume of evidence supporting the benefits of mindfulness for patients, their families and those working in the end of life care environment.

the mary stevens hospice

The Trish Bartley  book, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Cancer: Gently Turning Towards, explores a Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy for cancer care. This eight-week course has been tried and tested over ten years of clinical use. Bartley believes

“mindfulness is a way of being more present and aware. This offers us many opportunities to appreciate life more. It also enables us to respond more gently to what we find difficult, and by doing this we often find that we experience changes”

A study in 2008 (Chadwik et al) found that mindfulness was beneficial to people with terminal cancer both physically and emotionally.  An analysis of the research available in 2005 concluded that mindfulness based intervention in cancer care had positive results, including improvements in mood, sleep quality and reductions in stress. A further review of studies in 2011 supported this finding. They found significant improvements in anxiety, depression, stress, sexual difficulties and immune function

Christopher Johns in his book, Being Mindful, Easing Suffering: Reflections on Palliative Care explains

"Mindfulness is a quality of mind that notices what is present without judgment, without interference. Being mindful guides me to see things as they really are rather than as a reflection of myself. Mindful practice is being aware of ones experience as it unfolds in its unpredictable and unique way.”

In 2005 the use of mindfulness in hospice care was examined from the perspective of the nurses. For many of the staff the changes were very significant

“Mindfulness makes me alert to what is happening……I see things that I didn’t see before, I begin to notice. For example when there is a lot of chaos in the room… this what she is seeing all day?”

“I think that in itself to be mindful that someone is afraid and not to reject it, not to sugar it over with something but also not be freaked out, but to really be with that feeling and to embrace it….then it seems the person can usually relax”

Mindful presence enables the nursing staff to be totally aware and focused on the circumstances she finds in the here and now, regardless of what has gone before or what will follow. It is a valuing of “being” over “doing” in the belief that compassionately being present allows the nurse to respond with empathy to the needs in that moment.

When I worked on a hospital ward during my nursing days I was often guilty of not being truly present but more concerned with my list of jobs to do. I felt that truly experiencing each moment would be overwhelming as many situations were difficult and challenging, but mindfulness has taught me that being present in the moment without trying to be in control of it is actually a great relief. To experience the moment for just what it is allows choices to be made from a place of awareness rather than habit or panic. Removing the “what should I do” and replacing it with an understanding of what is needed in that moment is very liberating. I know life is often unbearably busy on the wards and nurses are pulled in so many directions, introducing mindfulness is not easily done, but this does not mean it can’t be done. The staff at Mary Stevens Hospice are working hard to introduce mindfulness to their clients and to their own work. I truly commend them for their commitment to constantly move forward to provide the very best care.

Mindfulness, as all holistic therapies, is not a replacement for medical care but it can be included within the home, hospice or hospital setting.  For more information please visit: mindfulness explained.

You may also enjoy reading : Mindfulness in a busy Kidderminster carpark

                                                 Mindfulness Explored

                                                 Meditation and pain


Posted on October 18, 2016 and filed under reflexology, mindfulness, stress management.

NHS maternity budget: Has this disappeared?


Back in February the news papers were reporting a new maternity budget to allow mums to source and choose their own maternity care.  There have been so many political changes since then I'm wondering if this has been lost along the way? Control is an important aspect of confidence in birth and as a maternity therapist I was excited by the proposition.

The birthing budget proposed could  fund therapies such as hypnobirthing and other complementary therapies. Pregnant women will be given a birthing budget of £3000 to spend on the care of their choice in new proposals.

The new plan is aimed at improving quality of care by promoting high quality services and moving care away from unsafe provisions.  The NHS plans are part of a national plan to tackle the reported poor care provided in many maternity units. The NHS report states that 48 per cent of units which have been inspected by regulators have been rated as inadequate or requires improvement for safety.

Under the new plans, pregnant women will be told they should get a personal midwife to attend to them throughout their pregnancy, with a back-up midwife to take over if necessary.The new NHS Personal Maternity Care Budget, worth at least £3,000. This budget will allow them to choose from birthing pools, private birthing suites and alternative pain relief methods such as acupuncture or hypnobirthing.

As a complementary therapist and hypnobirth traininer I am supportive of all moves to empower women to make choices about their pregnancy and child birth. I am also excited to see complementary therapies included in the woman's possible choices. This recognition is very positive for supportive services such as hypnosis for childbirth and reflexology.    

Baroness Julia Cumberlege who led the review stated:
“To be among the best in the world, we need to put women, babies and their families at the centre of their care,” she said. It is so important that they are supported through what can be a wonderful and life-changing experience. Women have told us they want to be given genuine choices and have the same person looking after them throughout their care"

Some charities are, however, concerned that couples may feel pressurised to make the cheapest choices rather than the best for their needs.  Maureen Treadwell, the Birth Trauma Association’s research officer, said: “It’s hugely important that women are able to give birth in a place that feels right for them, and that they are not pressurised into what trusts see as the least costly option.”

I will be watching the media for developments from the pilot schemes as I feel that although the concept is positive there will be a number of issues that may prove challenging. One of these, I believe, will be the process of  therapists becoming accredited NHS providers. I am a member of the CNHC an approved voluntary register which ensures therapists are fully trained, insured and professionally accountable. This register has been developed by the government and accredited by them. The move to NHS accreditation is however not open to hypnotherapists  and complementary therapists in the same way. I hope women who want to spend their budget on Hypnotherapy or other complementary therapies do not find that they can't because no one locally has been able to gain accreditation.

If you would like any more information on hypnotherapy in pregnancy or maternity treatments please so contact us at Breathe Holistic Therapy. 

Posted on July 31, 2016 and filed under maternity, hypnobirthing, reflexology.

Why Breathe?

My reflexology and hypno birthing clients often ask me why I chose the business name “Breathe Holistic Therapy”.

A number of things have popped up this week making it seem apt to take this opportunity to write here and explain the name. I use this blog to share information that may benefit my reflexology and hypnosis for birth clients or fellow therapists, I shy away from writing very personal blogs and only occasionally do. This entry however does go along a more personal path, lets hope it’s still a useful and interesting post!

"Breathe. You’re going to be okay. Breathe and remember that you’ve been in this place before. You’ve been this uncomfortable and anxious and scared, and you’ve survived. Breathe and know that you can survive this too. These feelings can’t break you. They’re painful and debilitating, but you can sit with them and eventually, they will pass. Maybe not immediately, but sometime soon, they are going to fade and when they do, you’ll look back at this moment and laugh for having doubted your resilience. I know it feels unbearable right now, but keep breathing, again and again. This will pass. I promise it will pass."
— Daniell Koepke

I was browsing pinterest a couple of days ago, I don’t tend to spend too much time on social media but I love skipping through the images, especially as I’m looking for inspiration for my new home in Kidderminster. I do get lots of quotes in my feed and one titled “Breathe” unsuprisingly jumped out at me.  This really summed up for me one of the reasons I chose breathe as a title for my work. I wanted to express how powerful breath is as a constant in our lives. How sometimes when life feels intolerable there are moments when all we need to do is breathe, when just breathing seems to be all we can do and that is enough.  

Hand in hand with this is my belief that taking time out to simply breathe when we are busy with our lives has benefits far beyond brief relaxation. When I started Breathe Holistic Therapy I was passionate about providing my clients with time and space to enjoy and embrace the experience of taking time out: time to breathe.

Many years ago I realised that I needed to be kinder to myself, and allowing myself to simply stop sometimes was key to that. I have always been goal driven, as so many of us are, and constantly searching for some form of perfection. I wrote a few words maybe 25 year ago that for me express this clearly and strongly, and while packing up for the house move I found them again.  It can be odd sometimes can't in when a number of things turn up that all get you thinking along the same lines!

joanne marie poem

Slow down, I need to breathe… taste the present… In those lines I hear myself talking about my desire to discover exactly what mindfulness meditation gives us. It took me another 20 years to discover mindfulness but the idea had certainly taken seed. I now find the three minute breathing space meditation incredibly valuable for myself and my clients. This short meditation provides for me the foundation of that wish to slow down and taste the present.

All the therapies I work with aim to fulfill my goal to give people time to breathe, to be present in their lives and to find resilience in that presence. Reflexology and mindfulness combined are for me especially key to this intention. Hypnosis for childbirth training also has the power of breathing at its core.  As my work grows and develops I am even more sure that Breathe was the right name for me!

For more information on anything here please do contact me.


Reflexology and Hypnotherapy in the news

I'm always interested to see reflexology and hypnotherapy in the news.

I may not know very much about the magazine stars but I am  pleased to see the therapies I am passionate about discussed.  This week I have read about actress  Samia Ghadie benefiting from maternity reflexology and enjoying baby reflexology.  Also,  Kim Kardashian is reportedly using hypnotherapy to encourage her breech baby to turn.

In her blog for OK magazine Samia Ghadie discusses her use of reflexology in her pregnancy and how she is now learning baby reflexology with her baby Yves:

I mentioned a couple of blogs back how reflexology had helped alleviate my pregnancy back pain. Since then I've started a baby reflexology course with Yves.
We've had 2 sessions so far and it's been so cute seeing all the babies on their changing mats ready for their pampering! 
We've focused on learning how to calm baby down when they get a bit grizzly and also how to help their digestion and common complaints like reflux and constipation. I've been practicing on Yves everyday and it is really making a difference.

Baby reflexology is a great skill for all parents, and it is really very easy to learn. Samia is attending a group which can be a lovely way to meet other mums but if you prefer to learn on an individual basis you can at Breathe Holistic Therapy.  Many mums, like Samia, choose to learn baby reflexology after enjoying reflexology in their pregnancy.  Reflexology for babies is also a technique that dads benefit from learning;  it can help them to feel more skilled and confident when handling their new babies.  

In a separate blog Kim Kardashian's  breech baby is discussed. Kim explains how she is trying everything she can to encourage her baby to turn into the head down position for child birth:

I even started acupuncture where I burn moxa (mugwort) on my pinky toe every day! I am even attempting hypnosis!

Hypnotherapy to turn breech babies has been researched and shown to be a  very successful intervention.  Relaxation and visualisation can help to create the right internal environment for a relaxed mum and relaxed uterus enabling the baby to move into the head down position. Letting go of fear and stress relating to child birth through hypnobirthing can  also promote the optimal position for the baby in the womb.

 For more information on either baby reflexology or hypnotherapy for breech presentation please do contact me.

Coping with Challenges using Reflexology and Hypnotherapy

My clients often say I must be the most chilled out relaxed person as I have so many techniques at my fingertips. In some ways that is true, I am far more relaxed than I was before I began to use complementary therapies, but life still throws challenges at even the calmest people!

During the last few weeks I have taken on a number of challenges, some by choice and others have arrived uninvited! I have to admit despite my love for holistic therapies my knee jerk reaction is often panic and fear just as it always has been. The difference is now I can eventually take a step back and use some of the wonderful techniques open to me.

My first challenges was updating my website to ensure it was compatible with mobile devices. I am not a techy person so my first reaction when I learnt I needed to do this was panic and anxiety. I had a very sleepless night before I took a moment to step back and calm down. I often talk to my clients about using the support networks around them, so many of us believe we have to cope alone. After getting advice from some techy friends I felt my website mountain was not such an impossible climb. I also took time out to use some confidence boosting self hypnosis and some mindfulness to encourage  kindness to myself. Gradually I began to enjoy the challenge and although there are still some things to iron out I am proud of myself for rising to the challenge. 

The next challenge was one I had chosen to embark on. Last year I tried twice to complete a 'leap of faith', this entails climbing up a tall post, standing on a small platform and jumping off ( you have safety equipment on of course!). I was so frustrated that twice i had reached the top and twice I had failed to stand up. I was determined to succeed this time. I used EFT to prepare myself for the task along with using the power of my imagination to really see myself succeeding. These both helped me to believe I could do it. And i did it!  The pride I felt was immense and I hope I've saved that feeling firmly in my memory to call on whenever I need a boost.

Leap of Faith at Condover Hall 2014...I couldn't stand up on the platform.

Leap of Faith at Condover Hall 2014...I couldn't stand up on the platform.

My third challenge was not something I chose at all. With a simple sneeze I damaged my back and have spent a frustrating week with little mobility and a fair dose of pain. As usual I spent the first day or so completely forgetting about the resources I have to help myself. After getting checked by my GP to ensure I hadn't seriously damaged any nerves etc I began using reflexology to help myself. Reaching my feet was hard at first so I just enjoyed some relaxing warm foot soaks with calming essential oils. Once I could finally get my hands on my feet I was shocked by how much tenderness I found. My spine and hip reflexes were all very painful but I did feel the discomfort was worth it.  I felt an improvement in my movement although I am still a long way off full mobility.  I also tackled my frustration with daily mindfulness meditation. This really has kept me grounded and held my annoyance at bay.

Challenges can be chosen or land in your laps when you least expect them. I wanted to share how a therapist copes with difficulties because I believe it is important for my clients to know two things 

  1. I am human just like them and I can be completely daunted by life's difficulties and feel that I do not have the ability to rise to the challenge
  2. After my panic passes I do practice what I preach because I believe truly in all the therapies I provide.

Home Treatment Room

What is a home treatment room?

Your Questions Answered.

Breathe holistic therapy has been based at a home treatment room in Kidderminster since 2008. Clients regularly comment on how calming and relaxing the room is, but before they arrive some have questions about what to expect.

  • Is it like being treated in you sitting room?

 The treatment room is used exclusively for Breathe Holistic Therapy treatments. It was initially a bedroom many years ago but is now equipped as a therapy room. Clients find it a calming and private setting, many say how just entering the room helps them to begin to relax. When arriving you will be greeted at the front door and shown to the treatment room. This does not involve passing through any family rooms, simply up a flight of stairs. If you have difficulty with stairs please do contact us to discuss your options.

  • Is it noisy?

Every effort is made to ensure a quiet and calm environment. There may be outside noise but as the room is situated on a quiet street this is generally minimal. The most regular noise is from the birds in the bushes outside the window. Any household noises are avoided as much as possible. Clients have commented on how they find salon or spa based  rooms quite noisy at times, especially if situated near to the reception or in a busy town centre. At Breathe Holistic Therapy there is no reception outside the room so no chatter from clients coming and going, or receptionist busy with phone calls. 

  • Where can I park?

The therapy room has a car parking space on the drive outside. This means you can park right outside the door. Appointments are arranged so clients leave before the next appointment arrives. This ensures that no cars get blocked in.

  • Are there toilet facilities?

There is a bathroom next door to the treatment room. This is cleaned prior to clients and all personal effects are removed from sight. Whilst therapies are taking place the toilet is used only by the therapist and clients. You will not be disturbed by people using the facilities during your appointment. 

  • Do I meet other household members?

This is a common concern, but your appointment is with the therapist and they will be there to greet you and show you to the room. At no time do you meet any other household members or pets.

  • Is the therapist distracted by household concerns?

When working the therapist is focused on the client. Their attention is on your needs and not those of the household. Your treatment is the priority and the setting of the treatment room does not impact on that. Many clients say that they feel the therapist is more focused because they are not thinking about clients already waiting outside.

If you have any more questions regarding the home treatment room or any treatments please do not hesitate to call on 07531 121199.

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Posted on November 27, 2014 and filed under hypnotherapy, reflexology.

History of Reflexology

The origins of reflexology explored.

Many of my clients are understandably curious about the history of reflexology. I often wish there was a straightforward answer for them but in reality the origins of reflexology stretch across many cultures and thousands of years.

Reflexology has both ancient and recent origins which cover many cultural communities. The Egyptian use of therapeutic foot massage can be seen in a wall frieze at the tomb of Ankhm.ahor (2500-2330 B.C.) at Saqquara near Cairo. This specific tomb containing these images is known as the physicians tomb due to the array of medical images seen on its walls. The use of foot therapy for healing is implied by its inclusion in this tomb.  We cannot determine the exact relationship between the ancient therapy practiced by the early Egyptians and Reflexology as we use it today. Different forms of massaging and applying pressure the feet to effect health have been used all over the world. 

Ancient chinese writings describe pressure therapy using fingers and thumbs. Acupressure using fingers was used before acupuncture with needles. In the 4th century BC a Chinese doctor called Wang Wei was documented using thumb pressure on the soles of his patient's feet to release healing energy. It is also worth recognising that the Chinese had, in acupuncture, divided the body into longitudinal meridians by approximately 2,500 B.C. These meridians do relate in may ways to the zone therapy that developed as a precursor to modern reflexology.

The use of therapeutic massage and application of pressure to the feet to promote well being can be seen across many cultures through history but the development of reflexology as a therapy began more recently.

During the 16th Century books were published on the treatment known as Zone Therapy, one was written by Dr Adamus and Dr A’tatis and another by Dr Ball in Leipzig. In 1890 Sir Henry Head of London identified the study of zones within his neurological studies and called his findings head zones. At a similar time Dr Alfons Cornelius discovered that when painful reflexes were massaged it caused the corresponding body part to heal faster.

More recently the re-discovery  of systemised foot therapy is accredited to Dr William Fitzgerald who called it Zone Therapy. He studied and shared his findings with the medical world between 1915 and 1917. It was in 1915 that an article entitled “To stop that toothache, squeeze your toe” was published in “Everybody’s Magazine”, written by Edwin Bowers, which first brought Dr Fitzgerald’s work on Zone Therapy to public notice.  In 1917, Dr Fitzgerald wrote “Zone Therapy or Relieving Pain in the Home”. Two years later, they enlarged this book and published it under a second title “Zone Therapy or Curing Pain and Disease”.

Fitzgerald did not clarify where he became acquainted with the theory of zone therapy. He did not express any understanding of the oriental connection but many of his reflex areas correlate with acupuncture points. Many of the specific points discussed in Fitzgerald's work correspond to Chinese meridian points. There is also a notable overlap between the reflex points and sen points in traditional Thai medicine. We can not know for sure if this is due to many cultures reaching the same conclusions about how to facilitate wellbeing through foot work or because the findings have been shared and developed directly. 

Modern relfexology has grown from Fitzgerald's work. Dr. Shelby Riley worked closely with Dr. Fitzgerald and developed the Zone Theory further. It seems that he added horizontal zones across the hands and feet. A number of other medical practitioners took the work futher until it was focused on by Eunice Ingham (1889 -1974) an american physiotherapist. Ingham is known as “The Mother of Modern Reflexology”. Her work led to the reflexology foot maps we still see today. She wrote 2 well known books “Stories the Feet Can Tell”(1938) and “Stories the Feet Have Told”(1951). Modern reflexology has been adopted across the world. In Denmark, for example, it is the most popular form of complementary therapy with ten percent of the population using it.

There is, therefore no simple answer to the question of the origins of reflexology! It would be true to say that modern reflexology is a relatively recent western therapy developed by medical practitioners within the formal health setting. It is, however, difficult to ignore the ancient cross cultural use of foot therapy as an influence on this powerful therapy. 

Complementary Therapy During Pregnancy

Im Pregnant:

Can I have reflexology or massage?

Pregnancy is both an exciting and anxious time, your body goes through numerous physical and emotional changes as it anticipates childbirth and motherhood. In recent years more pregnant women are choosing to seek support at this important time in their life – alongside conventional maternity care – to help them relax and cope with any emotional and physical challenges pregnancy may bring. 

Yes, you can enjoy treatments during pregnancy but it is vital that every pregnant woman has complete confidence in their therapist. The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT), an accredited voluntary register, has provided clear guidelines for therapists to ensure their members are working safely and confidently. They recommend that while pregnancy in itself is not an ‘illness’, it is considered a contraindication or ‘red flag’ for many treatments. FHT members need to consider very carefully whether a particular therapy, technique or product is appropriate or needs modifying in order to protect the health and safety of the mother-to-be and her unborn child. 

At Breathe Holistic Therapy our therapist, Joanne Marie, has received advanced training on working with pregnant clients as set out in the first section of the FHT guidelines. We provide maternity treatments with the consent of midwives and require all pregnant clients to seek permission to treat prior to their first treatment.  It is crucial that while pregnant conventional maternity care continues as complementary therapy should never be seen as a replacement for such care.

Before all maternity treatments at Breathe Holistic Therapy a maternity check list is completed to promote the safety of the mother to be and her unborn child. This has been designed by a midwife and highlights how our therapist places safety as the corner stone for all treatments.

During pregnancy massage and reflexology the client's comfort is ensured with time taken to find appropriate positioning. Every pregnant client is unique and their own needs are at the forefront of the treatment as well as considering the wider safety requirements. Massage is undertaken in a side lying position with the bump supported and the hips comfortable aligned. Reflexology uses a comfortable reclining chair until reclining becomes unsafe. It is essential that clients are not laid in the supine position in later pregnancy as this can compress the inferior vena cava and cause dizziness in mother but more importantly, reduce oxygenation to the baby, at this point a couch is used with the Comfy Clientcushion system to maintain back comfort. 

Many pregnant women seek treatment in their first trimester when some difficulties such as sickness are most severe. Unfortunately treatments are not available until after the scan at the end of the first trimester. This is not due to there being any specific risks at this time but an insurance guideline based on the very sad fact that three in every four miscarriages occur during the first trimester. 

Pregnancy is a wonderful time and you can choose to enjoy massage and reflexology. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call 07531121199 or e-mail me.

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Posted on July 30, 2014 and filed under reflexology.