09:30 Wednesday 26 June 2013

What holistic therapy is and tips to try at home

Written byLeah Cassady

Holistic treatments are on the up as we realise our bodies may need more care than they’re getting.

Cathy Fernie who owns Holistic Bliss in Burton upon Trent, is a Clinical Complementary Therapist. She has undergone extensive training and holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Complementary Therapies. This qualification includes not only in-depth study of Clinical Aromatherapy, Therapeutic Massage and Clinical Reflexology but also cognitive behavioural approaches, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, pathology and biochemistry as well as energy, health and well-being and the management of pain.

Cathy explains about the world of holistic treatments, the most common problems her business deals with and also gives a few tips you can try at home.

What is the difference between clinical complementary therapies and beauty therapies?

Clinical Complementary Therapies are used to treat people with medical conditions or injuries who may or may not be receiving treatment from their doctor or hospital consultant for those conditions. I am trained as a healthcare professional and the treatments I offer are holistic, treating the person as a whole, not just a set of symptoms.

While the therapies I use are very relaxing and can be used to help people who find it difficult to relax or suffer from stress related conditions, they can also be used to help with many different medical conditions. Aromatherapy is carried out using a selection of essential oils that are chosen specifically for their chemical properties which can be used to alleviate many different health conditions.

I have a set of over 40 oils all of which contain different chemicals with different therapeutic properties. For instance, most people know that lavender oil is used to help people sleep. This is because it contains a high level of esters, which have sedative properties. However, did you know that Lavender oil can also be used to help relieve pain as it also has analgesic properties? There are different grades of lavender oil too. I use an essential oil produced from lavender grown at high altitude, as it contains a much higher level of esters than those available from chemists and health food stores.

Each of the essential oils I use has a different combination of therapeutic properties and as a qualified clinical aromatherapist, I select the appropriate oils for a blend, use different concentrations according to the client’s needs and takes into account which oils work synergistically together to help to heal the client’s body.

Beauty therapies are mainly for relaxation and carried out in spas or beauty therapy/hairdressing salons. There is minimal medical history taken, mostly the aromatherapy oils used are pre-blended and of low, therefore harmless, concentration. In a spa, reflexology is done for relaxation only and usually set routines are carried out with no tailoring of treatments for individuals or their specific health conditions.

For more information go to: www.holisticblissburton.co.uk/services

The difference between Aromatherapy, Therapeutic Massage and Reflexology.


Aromatherapy is a complementary healthcare therapy using topical application of a tailored blend of essential oils on the whole, or part, of the body. It is a holistic treatment which aims to improve both physical and emotional wellbeing.

Aromatherapy is carried out using a blend of essential oils which can be applied topically, that is, to the skin, using massage or as a compress, either hot or cold, and also as an inhalation. For instance, traditionally, eucalyptus oil can be dropped into hot water and breathed in, to help relieve congestion in the sinuses during a cold.

Most often I use aromatherapy and essential oils in conjunction with various massage techniques to help improve circulation, reduce knotted areas of muscle and relieve painful areas of the body. Sometimes, essential oils can be applied to someone who is also having a reflexology treatment to target a specific area of the body that is out of balance.

More information about aromatherapy can be found at: www.holisticblissburton.co.uk/clinical-aromatherapy

Therapeutic Massage

This is a holistic massage that treats the whole person and uses a combination of advanced massage techniques, such as deep tissue or lymphatic drainage massage, according to your specific needs.

Therapeutic massage treats the soft tissues and muscles of the body with various hands-on techniques, chosen to suit your individual health issues. Some clients need a gentle relaxing massage and others require a deep tissue, therapeutic treatment to relieve specific muscle pain and tightness. Therapeutic massages use a combination of advanced techniques such as deep friction massage techniques, acupressure points, trigger point and neuromuscular movements.

The methods chosen will depend on the specific problems that you have. Therapeutic massage can help painful areas to be released, but should not be painful. Close communication and feedback from the client about pressure and pain levels is essential during this type of massage.

Therapeutic massage benefits both mind and body in people of all ages as you start to relax. A regular massage helps to re-balance the whole body, helping it to stay healthy and can detect and treat minor aches before they become major pains!

Further information can be found at: www.holisticblissburton.co.uk/therapeutic-massage


Clinical Reflexology is a complementary healthcare therapy usually performed using gentle pressure on the reflex points of the feet and sometimes the hands. It is based on the principle that there are reflex areas on the feet and hands which are believed to correspond to all organs and parts of the body.

Reflexology is a specific method of applying pressure to the reflexes of the feet, when the reflexes are massaged gently, the whole body relaxes and natural endorphins, (chemical neurotransmitters in the brain that make you feel good) are encouraged to be released. As a qualified Clinical Reflexologist, I cannot diagnose medical conditions or claim to cure anyone, but I can often feel when a specific area of the body is out of balance and by working on those reflexes, can help their body to relax, rebalance and heal itself.

Further information about reflexology can be found at: www.holisticblissburton.co.uk/clinical-reflexology

Can you give some advice on the most common problems you deal with, a few tips they can try at home etc.

Some of the most common conditions that I deal with include muscular pains, hormonal imbalances, stress and arthritis.

Painful backs, necks and/or shoulders can be helped with therapeutic massage to work on stretching those areas that are tight and using various techniques to relieve painful areas. Sometimes applying an ice pack at home can help to relieve painful areas. Always use a cloth such as a tea towel between the ice pack and the skin and only apply the ice for a maximum of 10 minutes. Ice can help to reduce any inflammation which can help to relieve painful muscular areas.

These days one of the main problems that people have are stress related conditions. This is because we are living life at a very fast pace and not giving our bodies time to relax and heal. We are constantly up against deadlines, finding ourselves in stressful situations and are not dealing with the changes that happen in our bodies that occur under such circumstances. Many people suffer with migraine and tension headaches, IBS, digestive problems, fatigue, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, insomnia and sleep disturbances.

Try some deep breathing techniques, and finding one that works well for you can really help when you are struggling with a stressful situation. During a reflexology treatment, I often suggest that the client takes several deep breaths and lets go of pent up stresses during their out-breath. This can help you to relax and forget your problems for a few moments during a treatment and allows your body to remember what relaxation feels like. These techniques can be used at home or work when you encounter stressful situations.

Other physical problems such as arthritis, MND and fibromyalgia can be helped by various complementary therapy treatments as they all increase relaxation levels. Emotional imbalances caused by unexpressed emotions such as anger, grief and frustration can also be helped by clinical complementary healthcare therapies. For instance, unexpressed grief often has symptoms that are similar to depression. Talking about issues in a safe environment, while receiving a relaxing reflexology treatment can help you to realise that grief is causing your distress and allow you to explore how you can deal better with difficult emotions. There are several essential oils which are very helpful during a period of grief, in particular, rose oil, which is very comforting and soothing.

Sleep problems seem to be increasing and can be helped by using essential oils, try one or two drops of lavender oil in a teaspoon of milk, dropped into a bath before bedtime. Or a couple of drops on a tissue next to your pillow can also help you to relax enough to drop off to sleep.

For some useful tips for maintaining good health, check out: www.holisticblissburton.co.uk/health-tips

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