A different touch: Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies are as popular as ever, but did you know that many practitioners started their careers after experiencing the benefits of complementary medicine themselves?

Peter Van Minnen was an architect in South Africa when he first experienced body stress release. He’d tried other forms of alternative therapy for back pain but witnessed immediate results when his wife went to a body stress release practitioner for a frozen shoulder.“She walked out of the treatment centre with a big smile on her face and swinging her arms around,” says Peter. “After a few sessions, my back was better too, and I’d tried a number of things beforehand including a chiropractor and physiotherapist.”Peter trained in body stress release in South Africa in the early nineties, then introduced it to Britain. Setting up practices in Neal’s Yard and Harley Street in London, he was also drawn to Kent and established a clinic in Westerham.Body stress release works on the principle of pressure being applied gently to a muscle to release stress. It doesn’t use manipulation or force, and the client remains fully clothed. The therapy is used for a variety of complaints from migraines, stress, anxiety and insomnia to gastro problems, trapped nerves, sports injuries, hip pain, repetitive strain injuries and whiplash. Children and babies can also be treated for conditions including colic, bedwetting and growing pains.Psychotherapist Philip Andrews was introduced to EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) by a senior Kent Police psychologist. “I went along to the level one training and was sceptical, but the result was life changing,” says Philip, who practices in Canterbury.“We were introduced to what, on the face of it, was the most bizarre therapy that involved getting the client to experience bilateral eye movements (from side to side) or tapping them alternately on the back of their left and right hand.“Clients who are so traumatised that they cannot function in their day-to-day lives are transformed within a few sessions of EMDR and are able to get on with their lives. It can have remarkable results.”Although EMDR is recommended for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), psychologists are finding it can be used to treat almost any psychological problem including anxiety, depression, phobias, addiction and even weight problems. “EMDR is unique because it helps collapse the underlying unconscious beliefs that a client has that maintain the problem. Once these beliefs are dealt with the problem resolves itself, permanently. “I use EMDR routinely in my practice and, day-to-day, see its remarkable and enduring results,” says Philip.It’s not just the practitioners who sing the praises of alternative therapies. Endometriosis sufferer Suzanne Harrington from Hempstead near Gillingham is convinced reflexology helped her become pregnant.“We were having problems conceiving and I had read up on the benefits of reflexology for fertility and how it was very beneficial in helping relax and condition the mind,” says Suzanne.She had weekly treatments, then fortnightly with reflexologist Elaine Wheeler of Wigmore, Gillingham. Reflexology involves massaging the foot and targeting specific parts which correspond to different parts of the body.“It was so relaxing, I usually fell asleep!” says Suzanne. “Because I chose to see Elaine for fertility reasons my treatment was specific for that. I do feel the treatment worked and shortly after having regular sessions with Elaine, I became pregnant, which was something medical professionals said would not happen naturally.”

Get in touch

Elaine Wheeler, reflexologist, Wigmore, Gillingham 01634 379360 Elaine@bodytalktherapies.co.uk

Peter Van Minnen, body stress release,Westerham %01959 565 926 peter@bodysressrelease.org.uk

Philip Andrews, psychotherapist and EMDR Europe-approved practitionerWincheap, Canterbury 01227 764111