We continue to offer complementary therapies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Therapies are available to people on the day they have an appointment in the Cancer Centre and to anyone admitted to a hospital ward. We also teach relaxation techniques and self-massage, and offer consultations for aromatherapy inhaler sticks by phone or video. 

Complementary therapies may help you to cope with some of the physical and emotional impact of your illness and the side effects of treatment. They can help to:

  • promote relaxation, enabling the body to rest and repair
  • reduce or manage stress, anxiety, nausea, fatigue or physical tension
  • lift mood
  • improve sleep.

Therapies that are currently available include aromatherapy, massage, reflexology, reiki and relaxation.

Aromatherapy uses blends of essential oils extracted from aromatic plants. They can be blended to suit specific needs, for example to help with nausea, fatigue, anxiety or low mood. Aromatherapy can be combined with gentle massage, even if just a small area of your body is massaged, such as your hands or feet. We can also give you an individual inhaler called an aromastick which you can use at home, in hospital or before or during a medical procedure.

image of the making up of an aromastick

We offer gentle massage with or without the use of oils. The therapist will work with you to find the most comfortable position in which to receive the massage – this may be lying down, sitting or reclining. You can choose whether you are comfortable removing some clothing for body massage with oils, or whether you prefer to be massaged without oils over clothes. Both can be very soothing and relaxing.

image of someone having a massage

Reiki can help you feel deeply relaxed and calm. You can either sit or lie down to receive reiki and you will be fully clothed. While you relax, the therapist will use gentle touch either on or just above the body. The therapist’s hands will remain still, with no movement or pressure. The peaceful stillness can give you a sense of calm that can benefit your overall wellbeing.

image of someone having reiki

Reflexology is a specialised form of foot or sometimes hand massage. The therapist applies gentle holds, pressure points and stroking techniques to specific points on the feet or the hands.

image of someone having reflexology

Relaxation techniques may include body relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, gentle self-care and mindful breathing. The therapist will explain these techniques in more detail and guide you through your chosen technique(s) during the session. Practising relaxation techniques can be helpful if you are feeling stressed or worried, for example before a medical procedure or when you are unable to sleep.

Our self-care/wellbeing education sessions are available 1:1, in a group, or with a family member, partner or friend. These sessions may include relaxation techniques or gentle self-massage. They may also help your loved one to learn some simple, gentle and safe massage/touch techniques to support your needs.

Our service is available to adult patients who receive their care for cancer or a blood condition at UCLH and to children and teenagers who are inpatients. Please note that we are a small team which means there may be a long wait to see one of our therapists or a limit to what we can offer. We don’t offer sessions on a private (paid) basis.

Outpatient appointments

If you are an outpatient, your hospital doctor, nurse, support and information specialist or another healthcare professional can refer you.

The sessions usually take place in our therapy rooms at the Cancer Centre. Our therapists can also visit you in day care and ambulatory care on the second, third and fourth floors of the Cancer Centre.

Inpatient appointments

If you have been admitted to hospital as an inpatient, your healthcare team on the ward you are staying on can refer you. One of our therapists will see you on the ward.

Remote appointments

We also teach relaxation techniques and self-massage, and offer consultations for aromatherapy inhaler sticks by phone or video. Your hospital doctor, nurse, support and information specialist, or another healthcare professional can refer you.