Just do it! NHS Certificate in Complementary Therapy (Cancer Pathway) With the aim of gaining practical experience as a complementary therapist in a cancer-care setting, I found my way to the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Cancer Centre in Harrogate where the first NHS Natural Therapy School is based, for the 12 week program leading to the NHS Certificate in Complementary Therapy (Cancer Pathway). This program offered an unique opportunity to learn and work within a professional, supportive and caring team, to NHS standards, while helping people during their cancer treatments, their carers, and patients on wards in the main hospital, through the power of touch – in my case, aromatherapy massage. The required medical and professional standards were obviously very high, and I was a bit daunted at first. There was a lot to learn about professional standards in the NHS, about the many forms of cancer and how these impact on people and how to tailor treatments to individual circumstances and the constraints of being on a hospital ward. However, as experiences go, this was probably one of the most rewarding professional and human experiences I have had, if not the most. Underpinning this was the expert and ongoing coaching and guidance from Gwyn Featonby, who leads the program, and support from Beverly Harrison and the wider team, which was invaluable. “Light touch” but the right touch. Also, the chance to work with and learn from fellow therapists was an added bonus. Through evidence-based practice, it was satisfying to see positive results for patients. Being accepted by medical professionals as part of the wider team supporting patients was amazing. So, if I have any advice for anyone considering embarking on this journey, it would be to “just do it”!
Reiki has become part of the field now often referred to as energy medicine. It’s also known as a form of Japanese palm healing. Reiki is a Japanese word that means Universal Life Force. It started as a spiritual development path, a way of connecting with the energy of life, steeped in the eastern traditions of martial arts and meditation practices. It morphed into a complementary therapy in the West. Often difficult to explain, Reiki has nevertheless be measured in terms of energy fields emitted from the practitioner’s hands. From the mystic’s point of view, this energy comes from the Source – and this will mean different things to different people.
Reiki has also been referred to as the intuitive inner wisdom we all possess and can access when we relax our minds and allow our subconscious to sort out what is really going on. Much of the information we pick up with our five senses is processed below our level of awareness.
In practice, a Reiki practitioner channels this pure ‘chi’, the ‘ki’ in Reiki, or energy through her hands to the recipient, enhancing and stimulating the individual’s natural ability to restore a sense of wellbeing. It is instrumental in lowering stress levels, and therefore may equip the recipient with increased resources to deal with the physical as well as the emotional, mental and spiritual problems raised by his/her condition. It is completely natural and safe, and can be used alongside conventional medicine as well as other complementary therapies or self-help techniques.
It has been documented that patients receiving chemotherapy have commented on feeling less distress and discomfort when Reiki is part of their care plan. Besides feeling more energy, hope and tranquillity, some patients have felt that the side-effects of chemotherapy were easier to cope with. Reiki has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression, to raise energy levels in tired and apathetic patients. It is of great value in degenerative disease for the very reasons that pain and anxiety can be reduced.
The treatment is gentle, supportive and non-invasive, the patient always remains clothed. Even though the origins of reiki are spiritual in nature, Reiki imposes no set of beliefs. It can be used by people of different cultural backgrounds and faith, or none at all. This makes it particularly suitable in medical settings. Predicting who would or would not like to receive Reiki is impossible.