Complementary therapies work alongside other treatment method. They are alternative ways of providing emotional, physical and spiritual support; this improves the quality of life and reduces the side effects of medical treatment (Cancer Council, 1). They are sources of relief and comfort for patients undergoing palliative care.
- Meditation and relaxation
Relaxation involves engaging in stress-relieving and enjoyable activities. It involves a series of muscle-loosening exercises. Through slow and deep breathing, a person releases muscle tension. Mediation, on the other hand, is a practice focusing on quietening of the mind and breathing techniques. It focuses on the sitting posture, breathing and feelings during the exercise. It facilitates the appreciation of one’s body (Cancer Council, 28). It can be accompanied by music in creating a peaceful environment. The relaxed feeling is productive in the healing process. Clinical studies show the benefits of meditation in reducing stress, tension and anxiety, physical pain, depression and fatigue. The enhancement of physical relaxation improves self-esteem, sleep and overall wellbeing.
- Guided imagery
It is a form of mediation also known as visualization. It focuses on imagination in the production of healing thoughts (Cancer Council, 28). Mental images are thoughts with sensory qualities. Guided imagery involves the use of techniques such as direct suggestion and simple visualization; metaphors, imagery, storytelling, game playing, fantasy exploration, drawing, dream interpretation and active imaginations. It is useful in psychophysiological relaxation, anxiety reduction, conflict resolution, depression reduction and tolerance of surgical procedures. Mental images influence attitudes and beliefs; thus, the manipulation of these images is an efficient healing process. Their application is evident in various areas of psychology such as; Jungian, Gestalts, psycho-synthesis, object relations theory, Eriksonian hypnotherapy and humanistic psychology.
Chakras and auras focus on the role of body spiritual energy in the healing process; though previously considered esoteric, it now occurs in scientific perspectives. Energy establishes a connection between the mind, spirit and body. Chakras are the seven energy centers; there is a connection between chakras and physical wellbeing; they relate to endocrine glands. They also have a role in determining the emotional and spiritual qualities. Medical practitioners and energy healers show that the manipulation of the energies results in healing effects. Individuals can also develop an awareness of their own chakras thus transform and configure the energies. They achieve balanced, energized and meaningful lives. The main chakras include; root, second, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye and crown chakras.
- Integrated healing group sessions
It involves the use of collective strategies in addressing the health issues of more than one person. The people come together in groups where they engage in a variety of activities; these contribute towards the physical, emotional and overall wellbeing. Connecting with people who have similar experiences is beneficial. The group provides emotional and practical support; it also provides opportunities for information sharing, caring feelings and experiences in a conducive environment. The groups, also known as support groups, occur face to face, online, on the phone or through programs (Cancer Council, 36). It provides an environment where people can speak openly and share tips on life challenges. Support groups contribute to the improvement of the quality of life. The efficiency of these groups reduces; depression, distress, and anxiety. Online groups arise due to the technological advancement.
- Integrative health
It involves the combination of conventional treatments and evidence-based complimentary therapies. The integrated or intermodal therapy involves the use of several expressive therapies. It fosters awareness, emotional growth and social relationships (Malchiodi, 3). It focuses on the interrelatedness of the arts; this sets it apart from its allied principles of therapy such as music, drama and dance. The provision of integrated healthcare increases recovery or coping with terminal illness. The selection of appropriate therapies depend on the nurses’ knowledge and the patients’ needs; the healthcare providers should provide a comfortable environment encouraging openness and honesty.
- Laughter and humor
The two areas of study go together; the use of humor as a complementary approach relates directly with laughter. Through humor, people can be motivated to laugh. In psychotherapy, laughter is beneficial to a person’s health in a variety of ways. It is thus a significant complementary approach in the healing or coping process. It is a weapon against despair and suffering; it reduces and eliminates suffering. Humor therapy depends on the positive emotions elicited by laughter. According to research, it results in lowered blood pressure, increased muscle flexion, reduced stress hormones, increase in T-cells boosting immunity, release of endorphin painkillers and overall wellbeing.
It is a process involving the replacement of anger and bitter feelings with positive ones of goodwill towards one who offends a person; the negative feelings result from being hurt. According to psychologists, the ability to forgive depends on various situational and dispositional facts. The situational factors include; empathy for the offender, relationship quality with the offender, offender remorse, apology and regret, severity and repetition of the offence. The use of forgiveness in treatment occurs in individual or group programs. According to research, forgiveness is efficient in promoting self-esteem and hope. It reduces depression, anger and anxiety. The common treatment models are Worthington’s REACH and Enright’s model.
The use of music as a complementary therapy methods increases; there is a lot of empirical research in support of the use of music therapy in handling terminal illness and end-of-life care. It contributes to the management and elimination of physical discomfort, anxiety, fatigue and pain; this ensures comfort, energy and relaxation. Music therapists incorporate strategies such as; song writing, guided imagery and music, improvisation, lyric analysis, instrument playing and singing in handling the needs of various patients and their families (Malchiodi, 2).
In social needs, isolation, boredom and loneliness reduce. Emotional wellbeing involves the elimination of depression, anger, anxiety, frustration and fear. Music handles cognitive needs such as disorientation, neurological impairment and confusion. In relation to physical wellbeing, it eliminated pain and shortness of breath. According to research studies, it lowers blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and sleeplessness.
Music without lyrics focuses on the melodies created through the instruments. Instrumental music such as Mozart’s create a feeling of tranquility; this eases the patient’s mind. The sound and harmonies help in coping with pain, reduction of pressure and anxiety feelings (Cancer Council, 35). Listening to Mozart’s music, for instance, increases brain activity; it raises blood circulation and spatial abilities. Music with lyrics, on the other hand, gives the patient a chance to focus on the words and melody; soothing and encouraging lyrics should accompany appropriate sounds. The music can be selected by the therapists or based on the patient’s preference. Participating in enjoyable music activities such as composing, listening or singing helps in coping with anxiety, pain, depression and nausea.
It is a phenomenon developed by Carl Jung; it is a significant part of analytical psychology. According to Carl Jung, it depicts a close relation with the manifestation of psychic life in people; this occurs in numerous ways, in normal people and those affected by pathology. An understanding of synchronicity’s nature is crucial in the practice of psychotherapy.
It is the development of appreciation for the things in a person’s life. It is a relational and catalyzing healing force rarely used in clinical practice. The development of gratitude improves a patient’s mental health and relation with people and surrounding environment. He/she develops appreciation and overlooks challenges associated with ailments and terminal illnesses. It encourages a positive outlook even in the face of suffering.
The voice tone of therapists and patients have relevance in psychotherapy. It is a communication channel influenced by changes in pitch, rhythm, volume, speed and intensity. Vocal ability shows emotional disposition. It helps in understanding and providing for the patient’s wellbeing. It also encourages the establishment of an open and trustworthy relationship between therapist and patients; it improves the healing and coping process. Patients expect the therapist’s voice to be warm, authentic, supportive, calm and serious. Aggressive or sharp tones contribute to increased anxiety and depression in patients.
- Psychedelic medicine
Psychedelic medicines are hallucinogens; they cause changes in a person’s perception, mood and cognition (Anderson, & Farah, 9). In psychotherapy, it is a catalyst of transcendent experiences breaking psychological barriers; these barriers impede communication and recovery. It involves the blending of spirituality and medicine. Psychedelic-induced consciousness states exhibit a change in significance and meaning; this occurs through the dissolution of boundaries to the unconscious. It creates the feeling of being alive by revealing repressed memories and achieving mental balance. The efficiency of this method faces criticism from various experts in the field. Current studies reexamining the use of psychedelic psychotherapy explores its use in palliative care (Anderson & Farah, 10); the patient’s realization of self-worth results in productive reorientation of thoughts, feelings and behavior. Conflicts in self-acceptance end; this eliminates neurotic behavior. In the case of terminal illnesses, the therapy establishes comfort through elimination of the fear of death. Patients belief their self-will does not end after death; it backs spiritual health. The pills encourage the expression of thoughts, feelings, and emotions; this facilitates healthy relations with family and other people (Anderson & Farah, 11).
It focuses on the establishment of balance in the body and mind; rhythm therapy occurs through dance and movement. The therapy focuses on the assumption that the body and mind connect; this achievement of body balance translates into mental stability. The psychotherapeutic use of dance and movement improves emotional, social and physical wellbeing through rhythm. It elicits a change in the person’s feelings, behavior and overall wellbeing. Rhythm therapies incorporate music in various cases (Malchiodi, 3).
The use of color as a complementary therapy strategy is a part of art therapy. In this form of therapy, the patient participates in the creation of visual art; through the choice and blend of colors, they express their feelings non-verbally. The colors provide information on the problems the patient experiences and how to deal with them. The therapy thus guides the patient in exploring his images; it helps the patient in understanding his/her concerns and emotions. Other benefits of the therapy include; mood improvement, stress reduction, and distraction from pain; it occurs through painting, drawing, collage and sculptures. It receives support from previous studies; during the session, it reduces anxiety, pain, tiredness and depression (Cancer Council, 34).
Complementary therapies help in ensuring healthy living; they reduce anxiety, stress, depression and other unpleasant feelings associated with medication. Nurses should have knowledge of complementary approaches in healthcare provision. They become able to; choose appropriate therapies, answer patients’ questions about them, and guide in therapy use. With the growth of interest in complementary theories, nurses should provide a conducive environment for their use.
Anderson, Brian and Farah, Martha. Psychodelic Psychotherapy: The ethics of medicine for the soul. The Body: From part to whole. Penn Bioethics Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1 (2006): Web. Available from < http://www.bioethicsjournal.com/pdf/pbj2.1_anderson.pdf > [Accessed November 24, 2013]
Cancer Council. Understanding Complementary Therapies: A guide for people with cancer, their families and friends. New South Wales (2009): Web. Available <http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Understanding- Complementary-Therapies.pdf > [Accessed November 24, 2013]
Malchiodi, Cathy. ‘Expressive Therapies: History, theory and practice’ (2005): Web. Available from < http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/231/malchiodi3.pdf > [Accessed November 24, 2013]