Also known as Alternative Medicine or Alternative Therapy.
There is a wide variety of complementary therapies, ranging from ancient systems of medicine, such as acupuncture, to treatments such as massage and aromatherapy. What the therapies have in common is a view that concentrates on the whole person, the 'holistic' approach. They often also require an active participation in making lifestyle changes, for example to diet, exercise or positive thinking.
The list of therapies below is neither an endorsement of their effectiveness, nor a suggestion that they should be tried. It is simply a list of common therapies which are available with contact details should you wish to look into them. What is important when starting anything is that you consult with your GP or medical practioner and that you look for a registered practioner.
Disclaimer: Complementary therapies are not an alternative to your current medical treatment. You should talk to your doctor before starting any complementary therapy.
Involves inserting fine needles into specific points in your body, to stimulate the healing process and relieve pain.
British Acupunture Council www.acupuncture.org.uk
- Alexander Technique
Helps people to learn to re-align their body, to release tension and prevent poor posture and associated problems.
Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique www.stat.org.uk
Essential oils of plants are used to massage the body, or to inhale.
International Council of Professional Aromatherapists www.ifparoma.org
- Art Therapy
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication.
British Association of Art Therapists www.baat.org
Manipulation of the spine and joints to restore alignment.
College of Chiropractors www.colchiro.org.uk
- Dance Movement Therapy
Dance Movement Psychotherapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement and dance through which a person can engage creatively in a process to further their emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration.
Association for Dance Movement Psychotherapy UK www.admt.org.uk
- Flotation Therapy
Floating in a tank of water in a darkened room.
Float Tank Association www.floatationtankassociation.net
Medical herbalists are health care providers trained in conventional medical diagnosis who use plant-based medicines to treat their patients.
National Institute of Medical Herbalists www.nimh.org.uk
Homeopathy uses tiny amounts of natural substances to stimulate the body to heal itself.
British Homeopathic Association www.britishhomeopathic.org
A 'talking therapy' or form of counselling, based on conversation and suggestions made under hypnosis or trance.
National Hypnotherapy Society www.nationalhypnotherapysociety.org
A treatment that involves rubbing or kneading the muscles, either for medical or therapeutic purposes, or simply as an aid to relaxation.
General Council for Massage Therapy www.gcmt.org.uk
An ancient method of relaxation which breaks the continuing cycles of stress patterns.
British Meditation Society www.britishmeditationsociety.org
A mind-body approach to wellbeing that can help you change the way you think about experiences and reduce stress and anxiety.
Mental Health Foundation www.bemindful.co.uk
- Music Therapy
People work with a wide range of accessible instruments and their voices to create a musical language which reflects their emotional and physical condition.
British Association for Music Therapy www.bamt.org
Focuses on the joints, muscles and ligaments and aims to diagnose and treat any mechanical problems affecting the body by massage and manipulation.
General Osteopathic Council www.osteopathy.org.uk
Involves massaging the feet or hands, applying pressure to reflex points that correspond to all parts of the body. A relaxing therapy, especially suited to problems related to stress.
British Reflexology Association www.britreflex.co.uk
Association of Reflexologists www.aor.org.uk
A system of natural healing, which involves non-intrusive touch on the various areas of the body in order to channel the 'life energy' from practitioner to recipient.
Reiki Association www.reikiassociation.org.uk
A type of massage based on the idea that good health depends on a balanced flow of energy through specific channels of the body.
Shiatsu Society www.shiatsusociety.org
- Tai Chi
A meditative form of movement, which can be practised on many levels. Can help with relaxation, stress relief and personal growth.
Tai Chi Union for Great Britain www.taichiunion.com
Good for suppleness and strengthening body muscles, yoga is an excellent form of exercise. It will help control movements and breathing, and will encourage muscle relaxation.
Yoga Biomedical Trust www.yogatherapy.org
Many of the links above will help you find a therapist. Plus you could find out more if you:
- Look for books in your local library
- Find out what therapies are available near you by searching NHS Choices.
- British Complementary Medicine Association maintains a register of practitioners of over 50 different complementary therapies.
- British Holistic Medical Association organisation of mainstream healthcare professionals, complementary medicine practitioners and members of the public.
- Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine provides information on all aspects of the safe and best practice of complemtary medicine.