integrated complementary therapy
12 College Walk
Complementary therapies (CTs) should not be looked upon as a cure. However, they can help a person deal with his or her condition more effectively. When used appropriately and especially in combination with medical treatments, CTs can help to maximise treatment outcomes by:
-Minimising the side effects of conventional treatments such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue and constipation.
-Minimising symptoms such as pain and breathlessness.
-Alleviating insomnia, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
-Coping with the emotional impact of the diagnosis.
-Maintaining the immune system.
-Enhancing the individual’s general sense of well-being.
-Helping with other health problems in addition to the main diagnosed condition – this is because the therapist works with the individual as a whole rather than on specific symptoms.
Choosing a Therapy
Which therapy to choose is a matter of personal choice but it is also influenced by factors such as a person’s overall physical condition, as well as their psychological and emotional well being. Consultants, GPs, specialist nurses may all have advice on appropriate complementary therapies. You can also seek advice from other people who have the same condition and have accessed complimentary therapies. To be able to get the most our of complementary therapies consider the following areas of information:
-Contact individual therapy organisations or governing bodies either by phone or through their websites.
-Investigate what research evidence there is about the benefits of a particular complementary therapy. Do not be put off if there is little or no research evidence as research in the field of complementary therapies is limited.
-Talk to others who have had complementary therapies about their experiences.
-Discuss therapies with specialist nurses. They may be aware of the benefits of particular complementary therapies as they may have had other patients who have experienced them.
-Discuss the idea with a consultant, GP or specialist nurse – it is important that a person’s healthcare team is aware of any complementary therapies they are accessing to ensure they are safe in relation to the person’s illness and the conventional treatments being received.
-Patients should not stop or change any of their conventional treatments because they are having a complementary therapy, unless it has been advised by their doctor.
-Ensure that the complementary therapist is fully aware of the patient’s health problem and ongoing treatments. It is also important to keep them up to date with major health and treatment changes.
-Most complementary therapists are not doctors. It is therefore important that if patients are experiencing new problems or symptoms, they should not only tell the therapist but also their doctor, as it is the doctor who would organise appropriate investigations and assessments of new problems and symptoms.
-Discuss with the therapist if there are any potential side effects or adverse reactions from the complementary therapy.
-Discuss with the therapist how they feel their therapy might help.
Where to go
Complementary Therapy Service availability varies depending on where you live. Here are some sources of information where you may be able to access complementary therapies.
Freshwinds is a Birmingham based charity which provides, among other things, complementary therapies to people living with life limiting threatening illnesses. The therapies are provided using an Integrated Medicine model (i.e. the therapies are combined with the conventional treatments the person is already receiving, keeping in mind any important safety considerations).
-Local hospices often provide complementary therapies.
-Specialist nurses may have information about complementary therapies available through different programmes within a hospital.
-Local support groups for different conditions often have access to one or more complementary therapists.
-Local cancer information and support centres may have information or be able to recommend a complementary therapist
-GPs may be aware of local therapists or programmes offering complementary therapies.
-Independent therapists can also provide complementary therapies for a fee.
How to find independent therapists
This is a very wide area and one that is difficult to narrow. Independent therapists may be qualified from any one of the many private schools or local colleges. Subsequently there is much variation in the standard of teaching and the extent of the learning material. The Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health is working to develop standards within complementary Medicine.
In order to find a suitable independent therapist some of the following information could be helpful;
-Contact the relevant therapy organizations or governing bodies for a particular therapy as they may be able to provide a list of local therapists registered with them.
-Check the yellow pages under ‘complementary therapy’ or the actual name of the therapy.
-Get personal recommendations from other people who have had complementary therapies.
-Also see our Useful Links below.
Things to check with a new therapist
“Above all, a person must feel completely safe and comfortable with their therapist”
-Check the therapist is registered with a governing body for that therapy.
-Check the governing body requires the therapist to follow a code of practice, a code of conduct, has disciplinary procedures and requires the therapist to engage in ‘continued professional development’ to maintain their registration.
-Check the therapist has up to date insurance to practice their therapy.
-Ask the therapist details about their qualifications (how long was the course; how was their competency assessed; what safety procedures did they learn about; where did they do the course).
-Ask the therapist about what post-qualification courses they have been on to further develop their skills and knowledge.
-Ask if the therapist has seen other people with the same condition? If yes – what benefits did they experience from the therapy?
-Ask the therapist how they would plan to use their therapy?
-Ask what benefits the therapist feels the therapy will offer?
-Ask how much the therapist knows about the health condition in question and about the conventional treatments being received or planned?
-Ask the therapist to explain their therapy and potential side effects and adverse reactions, as well as possible interactions with other treatments being received.
-Ask the therapist about what access they have to supervision and support from other more experienced therapists (if relevant).
-Ask the therapist how they will communicate with the patient’s conventional health care professionals.
Please remember, the above information has been provided only as a guide to accessing complementary therapies.
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