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Counselling and Complementary Therapies

These services are free and offer specialised support to cancer patients.

Counselling and/or complementary therapies can be helpful at any stage from diagnosis onwards. Their role is restorative and their aim is to improve psychological and emotional wellbeing. This can also include strategies for coping with anxiety. Counselling and complementary therapies can be accessed separately but it is not unusual for the two to be used alongside each other.

You can either refer yourself or ask a healthcare professional involved in your care to do so.

Quite frequently it will be recommended that you use these services and a referral will be made with your consent. You can also request a referral or make contact directly.

Referrals should be made to:
Annie Hallett MSc RGN, Specialist Counsellor and Complementary Therapies Lead,
Department of Oncology and Haematology (N045)
Ipswich Hospital
Heath Road

Direct line for counselling and complementary therapies: 01473 704903

These services are free to cancer patients but donations are welcomed, particularly for complementary therapies, which are funded by Cancer Campaign in Suffolk.


The counselling offered is confidential, provided by qualified counsellors and is in line with the requirements of the associated professional bodies. A session usually lasts for about 50 minutes, during which time issues of concern to you are discussed in a constructive way. For some people simply being able to express feelings in a confidential and private environment is profoundly helpful. Others find counselling helps them to develop a clearer sense of how they can manage their concerns and problems, including anxiety.

Complementary Therapies

The complementary therapies we provide are offered within a holistic approach to health and are therapeutic and restorative rather than pampering. All our therapists are qualified to the standards required by the associated professional bodies and are well supervised. It is usual for a preliminary assessment and discussion to take place prior to actual therapy so a programme can be tailor-made. A limited number of sessions is normally offered, but re-referral is possible. Therapies available include:

Aromatherapy (currently unavailable)

Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils derived from plant materials. This is usually combined with massage, but advice can also be given on using oils at home safely.

Massage (currently unavailable)

We offer a gentle type of massage using the specialised use of touch to soothe and comfort both mind and body. This massage is safe and appropriate for patients with cancer and its benefits are evidence-based. Essential oils are often used as part of the massage so there is the enhanced benefit of experiencing two therapies. Experience has taught us that massaging just hands, feet or shoulders, for example, can achieve a similar relaxation response as a whole body massage.

Therapeutic Touch

Therapeutic Touch is a healing therapy which is often described as being a contemporary interpretation of several ancient healing practices. Therapeutic Touch was developed by nurses within a healthcare setting, has its own evidence base and requires high standards of training.

The word 'healing' is used in the sense of it being restorative to mind, body and spirit, rather than curative of disease. It can be supportive through all stages of cancer. It can also help during chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is useful during periods of adjustment. It is known to bring about a deep relaxation response. Therapeutic Touch has no religious connotations and does not use symbols.


This is another healing therapy similar to Therapeutic Touch that has a similar effect.


Reflexology is the use of a specialised touch or massage, usually on the feet, but sometimes the hands or ears. The areas on the foot being massaged are thought to correspond to various parts of the body. Reflexology is thought to aid relaxation and to facilitate a sense of balance both on a physical and emotional level. In cancer care it is used mainly for its relaxation and restorative benefits.

Visualisation and Imagery

These are two similar techniques, both of which harness the power of the imagination to aid relaxation. This is beneficial on its own but can also contribute to the management of anxiety, including intense fear of certain interventions. Imagery can be used as a means to help body and mind work together towards healing and wellbeing and to support radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments.