Holistic therapy gains steam in palliative care

Being diagnosed with an illness that is life-threatening or that cannot be cured can be an incredibly distressing experience, and there is no right or wrong way to react to this news. Whatever those initial feelings may be, it’s perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions, from shock, fear and anger through to frustration, relief and perhaps eventually, acceptance.

While a team of healthcare experts will be on hand to let individuals know what medical support is available to them, outside of traditional palliative medical care, complementary therapy is gaining steam when it comes to the management and relief of some associated physical and emotional symptoms.

According to the results of an online survey conducted by Therapy Directory – a support network of holistic therapists – a proportionate 90% of respondents said that should they be diagnosed with a terminal illness, they would consider complementary therapy to help them to deal with the symptoms [1].

Why are so many people now choosing to take a holistic approach to their health?

In a bid to understand more about the increased take-up of holistic therapies in palliative care, Therapy Directory speaks with two of their listed therapists for their take on the matter.

Michelle Mullis, owner of Kent Acupuncture health, specialises in both acupuncture and aromatherapy massage and has experience of delivering both as part of palliative care.

Speaking about acupuncture treatment – in particular when delivered as an adjunctive to cancer chemotherapy treatment – Michelle explains how this natural therapy can help to reduce symptoms of nausea, fatigue, cancer pain and associated hot flushes:

“Much research supports the use of acupuncture for these symptoms. The main areas of research into acupuncture for cancer are chemotherapy related sickness, fatigue and cancer pain. Having cancer can have a big impact on quality of life, causing distress and affecting everyday tasks, so acupuncture can help people to manage their day-to-day lives,” she explained.

Michelle is also qualified in aromatherapy treatment, another holistic therapy that she has used while working in hospice palliative care to improve quality of life. Michelle reports that as well as the physical benefits, certain oils can be incredibly soothing on an emotional level:

“Bergamot helps reduce agitation and panic and is often used in cases of depression, while Rose Otto is another oil that I use with patients as it calms anxiety and relieves tension. Ylang Ylang is also an oil that patients respond well to as this helps with fear, depression and anxiety whilst reducing the breathing pace.”

The emotional impact

Former nurse and therapist since 2001, Emma Coleman, agrees that complementary therapies can be of benefit on both a physical and psychological level.

“In my experience as a therapist, I have treated clients with cancer in numerous ways and have found that alternative approaches can vastly aid the improvement of how a sufferer feels psychologically as well as easing any physical symptoms,” she said.

Emma also explained how relaxation is the most common aim for her clients and, in an indirect way, this approach can also help to alleviate the stress of close family. As a result of the client often feeling more positive and lifted after treatment, the carer or relative feels more optimistic and supported – a two-fold impact.

Finding a holistic therapist

As more people begin to lean towards a natural and holistic approach to their health, complementary therapy is being used more and more. While these types of therapy should not be viewed as a replacement for traditional medical care, what we are seeing more frequently is that when used alongside conventional medicine the benefits can be significant.

Here at Therapy Directory, we only list holistic therapists who have provided us with relevant qualifications and insurance cover, or proof of registration with a professional body – making it a great place to start for those considering introducing complementary therapy to their care plan. To start your journey to better mind, body and spirit, visit Therapy Directory today.

Notes to editors

Please note, we advise that individuals consult their GP before introducing any new therapy to their care plan. In addition, when using any complementary therapy treatment must be tailored to individual needs and should only be carried out by an experienced practitioner.


[1] Results based on a survey of 41 visitors to Therapy Directory from December 2013 to Jan 2014.


For further information, quotes or interviews, please contact:

Email: press@therapy-directory.org.uk

Tel: 01276 301230

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Written by Becky Wright

Becky is Marketing and Content Officer for Happiful and a writer for Therapy Directory.

Written by Becky Wright

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