Try this: Stress therapy at Haven Wellbeing Hub
Katie Palmer is a hugger. When I turned up for my first session at her holistic therapy centre, Haven Wellbeing Hub in Wokingham, she ignored my outstretched hand and gave me a lovely hug as if we were lifelong old friends. Which, if anyone else had done on a first meeting would have freaked me out, but coming from her, seemed the most natural thing in the world.
I wondered whether my treatment had already begun.. hug therapy?! But no, Katie is just that kind of person who puts you totally at ease. She has over 15 years’ experience as a therapist and is qualified as a holistic therapist, hypnotherapist and past life therapist and an angelic reiki practitioner.
The Haven has been open for just over a year and a half, and in that time Katie has managed to get a seriously impressive team of therapists and instructors together, offering a huge range of treatments from the more well-established – hypnotherapy, reiki and various types of massage, to the lesser known Bowen technique, Emmett technique and even past life regression therapy (that’s definitely one on my list for next time!).
The centre has three therapy rooms, a studio for yoga, pilates and meditation classes, and a shop where I could easily have browsed for ages. But Katie had to drag me from the scented candles, incense, essential oils, crystals and salt lamps to get started on my treatment. [Seriously, no shopping therapy?]
As a born worrier, I was here to try some stress therapy. I’m actually 50% human, 50% tightly wound stress ball, and when I run out of things to worry about, I worrying about worrying… or not worrying. I know, exhausting. Oh, and I suffer from periods of insomnia too. I am a therapist’s dream.
Anyway, we started with Katie just chatting to me and getting a really good feel for me as a person, my lifestyle etc. Then when she’d kind of got the measure of me, she discussed how she thought the session would best work for my needs and issues (the list was long) which was going to be a combination of reflexology, guided meditation and a little healing/angelic reiki.
The reflexology concentrated on pressure points mostly on my big toes which worked on my pituitary and pineal gland reflexes – important for sleep – and my solar plexus reflex more in the centre of my foot which is highly affected by stress so releasing this reflex point can decrease stress levels.
What I found amazing was that even before Katie had explained the link, I told her I could feel twinges in my stomach – exactly where the solar plexus or cluster of nerves sits in the body, so it was clearly hitting the right spot!
It’s horses for courses but I found the guided meditation and visualisation the most powerful of the treatments. There were relaxing beach/waves sounds in the background and I had to simply visualise a colour (I chose the blue of the sea from our recent summer holiday).
As I lay on the bed with my eyes closed, Katie talked me through the colour slowly seeping through my body inch by inch from the top of my head slowly down my arms into my fingers etc. and as it did so I had to imagine the colour was filling my body while slowly pushing out any stress or worries, so eventually I was just a big blue Smurf (kind of).
It was incredibly powerful for me and at a point of total relaxation and a few kind words from Katie, I suddenly realised I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Everyone reacts differently – clearly, I’m a weeper! How embarrassing. Katie just carried on (discreetly handing me a tissue) explaining that it was just a very natural ‘release’ of emotion.
She ended the session with some angelic reiki, where she just rested her hands on my shoulders and as far as I could tell simply breathed in and out with my similar patterns. I’m sure there was a lot more going on, but I was far too relaxed and zoned out to notice. All in all, I would never have believed that I could be so focused and calm in such a short space of time. I really did feel incredibly peaceful when we’d finished and could feel it was something that if I did regularly, would help a lot with my anxiety.
Katie obviously gave me lots of additional more practical tips to take home – we discussed how exercise obviously helps, listening to podcasts and audio books, keeping a worry diary, a weekly walk with friends to offload etc. and she recommended some meditation and mindfulness apps. Katie tends to find three sessions then perhaps coming for a top-up session once every couple of months is effective. An initial session costs £85 and lasts an hour and a half; follow up sessions are £65 and last an hour.
If you’re open to complementary therapies I would definitely put Haven on your list to try – for the sheer range of therapies and amassed experience here. It would be a very safe first bet if you’re a newbie and a little unsure. And of course, it includes a free hug, which is therapy in itself.
The Haven Wellbeing Hub, Unit 1, 171 Evendons Lane, Wokingham RG41 4EH. Tel: 0118 327 2450. www.havenwellbeinghub.co.uk