Complementary therapy or Holistic Therapy is an encompassing term given to a range
of treatments that aim to support or improve a person’s health and wellbeing.
It is important to understand the difference between conventional medical treatments and complementary therapy. Conventional Medical Treatments are used by the medical profession.
They are scientifically tested and researched. Complementary therapies can be used alongside or in addition to medical treatment. They do not claim to cure illnesses or disease although some have been scientifically tested. They can be used to boost physical or emotional health or to relieve symptoms and side effects of some treatments.
Complementary therapies can be used to provide support with
Physical health: general aches, chronic pain, illnesses, tension, fatigue and diseases.
Emotional health: feelings such as anger, sadness, or worry.
Mental health: all our limiting beliefs that manifest as depression, anxiety and stress e.g. “I am not good enough.”
Spiritual health: feeling empty, lost, incomplete, disconnected and fragmented.
People use them to help feel better and bring a better quality of life, to ease aches and pains, to sleep better, to release tension, stress and anxiety and as a form of self-care.
The types of complementary therapies available come under various headings
· Mind-body therapies such as relaxation, hypnotherapy and meditation
· Talking therapies such as counselling or support groups
· Massage or other touch therapies
· Acupuncture or acupressure
· Therapies using herb and plant extracts
· Diet and food support and supplements
· Gentle physical exercise such as yoga
Most complementary therapies are considered safe if performed by a trained and experienced practitioner. There may, however, be certain circumstances when certain therapies may have higher risks such as during pregnancy. If you are already under the guidance of a medical practitioner for an illness, have a physical or mental health problem, or you are already taking any medication it may be worth checking with your GP and therapist if the proposed treatment is suitable before you start any complementary therapy session(s).
Currently Complementary therapies are not regulated by one single body. The Complementary and General Healthcare Council is a voluntary body with a list of therapies and therapists voluntarily signed up to a register and a code of practice. Each Therapy also tends to have a governing body such as the Federation of Holistic Therapists or the Association of Reflexologists, with its own register and code of ethics.
There are an increasing number of related studies accepted by medical professionals into the benefits of complementary therapies. Three areas seeing increased use are palliative care, mental health and midwifery with some tentative studies showing the benefits for use alongside conventional medicine.