Therapies & Groups
With over 50 fully trained and insured therapists, Cancer Wellness Support provides our member clients and their families/carers with a large range of subsidised therapies including Acupuncture, Bowen Therapy, Counselling, Lymphoedema Management, Massage, Naturopathy, Reflexology and Reiki.
Cancer treatment can be enhanced by the use of natural therapies. Therapies may assist in managing the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy through reducing the severity of symptoms and promoting self care and relaxation.
Groups & Programs
Held on a regular basis for clients and their carers, each group is facilitated by a qualified practitioner, counsellor and/or registered nurse. All members are welcome to attend any of the Support Groups.
Click the tabs below to explore.
Art Therapy is the therapeutic use of art within a professional relationship and works across health & medical fields. Art therapy is rapidly gaining popularity for people who are experiencing illness or trauma, and be people who are interested in personal development. Creating art and reflecting on the experience lets people find:
- an increased sense of awareness of self and others
- cope more easily with symptoms, stress & traumatic experiences
- enhance cognitive abilities
- enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of being creative and having fun
Art therapy groups are small, intimate and confidential. They allow people with similar experiences to come together over a number of weeks in a non-judgmental, friendly and respectful group environment.
"But I can't draw!"
Art Therapy is about the process of making art, not the final product. No art experience is necessary to benefit from this process. Art therapy is suitable for people of all ages. It is not about art techniques but rather using art materials and the creative process to bypass verbal defences and connect with our inner wisdom and strengths. The therapist's role is one of guidance, rather than interpretative or analytic.
These groups are suitable for people who are:
- currently living with or have had any kind of cancer
- caring for someone with cancer
- finished intensive treatment
Cancer can be an unfamiliar and uncharted territory for a person and for their family and friends. Counselling can help create the space to look at and make sense of your thoughts and feelings. A counsellor’s task is to provide a non-judgmental ‘listening’ space to allow you to explore your thoughts and feelings. Talking therapy gives you time to create new ways of viewing your inner and outer world and all counselling is confidential.
Counselling allows for the exploration of problems and emotions in a safe, objective environment, helping to improve self-esteem, communication, relationships, decision making and emotional healing. A counsellor's task is to provide a non-judgemental 'listening', to allow the client to talk through events that are causing confusion, anxiety, guilt or conflicting emotions.
Hypnosis is an effective tool in cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. It has been consistently shown to improve clinical outcomes. The vast majority of cancer patients will undergo surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy which may be accompanied by pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Hypnosis has a powerful place in your healing journey as it sustains you at times of pain, fear and stress.
Research shows that regular mindfulness practice is effective in reducing stress and thereby improving immune function and health outcomes. It also results in improved mental function and reduced levels of anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Group sessions are held at both Cancer Wellness Support centres.
The mindfulness meditation course is based on the famous Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979. It teaches the art of mindfulness and develops the ability to meditate. Research shows that regular mindfulness practice is effective in reducing stress and thereby improving immune function and health outcomes. It may positively impact mental function, reduce levels of anxiety and depression, and help us deal more effectively with chronic pain. Best outcomes can be expected when participants undertake the recommended home practice of 45 minutes, six days per week for the duration of the course.
In each session there will be guided mindfulness practice. Sitting, lying and movement practices can be adapted to individual physical limitations. Sessions include discussions on meditation practice, emotional regulation and experiential work with reducing patterns of stress reactivity. All activities are optional and you will be encouraged to choose the level of participation that works for you.
Mindfulness Meditation in 8 sessions
- Mindfulness Fundamentals: paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Mindful awareness of the body.
- Perception & Creative Responding: it's not the stressors themselves, but how you handle them, which determines their effect.
- There is pleasure & power in being present: attitudinal foundations, the nature of what we think is real, and understanding our responses to pleasant and unpleasant experience.
- What is Stress? A little neurophysiology. Using mindfulness to reduce the negative effects of stress reactivity.
- Mindfulness of thoughts & emotions: Stuckness, conditioned reactions and escapes -v- mindful responses.
- Mindfulness in everyday life: Interpersonal mindfulness, staying present under stressful conditions.
- Mindfulness in everyday life: Making conscious choices, trying new perspectives.
- Review, keeping up the practice, where to from here.
Notes on the content of each session are provided, along with audio guided meditations to use at home.
Support group provides the opportunity to share what is happening on an emotional level in a confidential and supportive setting and without judgement. It is also a place to connect with others who share your experience be they the person with a cancer diagnosis or their carer and most of all, share laughter and supportive friendship.
“but I have to put on a brave face, I don’t want my family to worry ..”
“some days I just don’t feel like visitors but I don’t feel I can be rude and not see them”
“.. this is all my fault”
These thoughts and others like them are normal but are they helpful?
At times these past two years would have seemed like a never ending roller coaster ride of emotions, bouncing up and down and all the time trying to look absolutely okay. How many times have you heard yourself say, “I’m fine”, “Yes, I’m good, thank you.” It is such a relief to learn it is okay to say what it is really like for you. It is also a relief to hear others say they have the same thoughts and feelings.
A support group enables you to say it all out loud, what you feel, what you think, share your highs and lows in the knowledge that you will be heard by others who experience so much the same as you. This support group is specifically for those who have received their diagnosis within the last two years.
The facilitator, Viv Maitland is a Counsellor/Psychotherapist her role is to create a welcoming, safe and confidential space in which you can freely navigate your way to feeling comfortable to share.
Cancer is now a story of living with a chronic disease rather than an acute short term illness. A return of cancer can be, at times, a very fearful event, there is often many different medical approaches to consider and time out from the stress of trying to make new decisions is important. This group is only for people with a metastatic diagnosis so there is a wealth of support with in this group.
There are opportunities to attend live in retreats which focus on different areas of mind, body and spirit care. You may choose a particular themed workshops which best meets your needs at the time, and then pack your bags for some time away to focus, reflect, explore and rest. We have a relationship with two major leaders in complementary therapies, Gawler Foundation Victoria and Quest for Life NSW.
Workshops give you an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of a particular issue you may be experiencing. These workshops may be delivered by one of our therapists who specialised in the issue and/or by an invited guest who is a leader is this field. Workshops can be a mix of one day or two day events and are often delivered from our centres.
These are times of fun and relaxation with the idea of giving you time out from your normal days of appointments. They can be held at our centres, opportunity shops or other venues but at all times the focus is on time out, getting back to being a part of the world outside medical and therapy appointments.
Isolation is a side effect of living with cancer in both the short and long term. You may find your days are filled with medical and therapy appointments so there is no time left for socialising and you just might be exhausted. The day long tours give you an opportunity to sit, relax, enjoy the passing scenery and be completely cocooned for the day. The tour may include visits to interesting sights, even wineries for wine tasting, lunch is always provided and time enough is left for sleeping on the way home.
A traditional form of Chinese medicine in which fine sterile needles are inserted into points along the energy channels in the body to re-balance energy. Acupuncture may address both the symptoms of various cancers as well as the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Consists of a series of gentle rolling moves on the skin over muscle, tendons and ligaments in the body. Frequent pauses, usually two minutes, are allowed between moves to give the body time to respond. It is gentle, effective, relaxing and addresses the body and mind from a truly holistic approach.
Is a form of therapy that uses muscle monitoring (biofeedback) to look at imbalances that may be causing disease in the body. Kinesiology aims to detect and correct imbalances that may relate to stress, nutrition or minor injuries.
Lymphoedema can occur when lymph nodes are removed by surgery or damaged by radiotherapy. Early attention to the risk can help to avoid the condition. There is no cure for diagnosed lymphoedema, but a whole of body and mind approach supports lymphoedema care. A combination of diet, massage, meditation, breathwork and exercise, along with measuring of the affected part by the Sozo machine, compressive bandaging, including specific drainage techniques, compressive bandaging and garment fitting. Only specialist lymphoedema massage therapist deliver this service.
Lymphoedema Support Group
Providing an opportunity to discuss any issues you may be facing with Lymphoedema and strategies for coping with it.
Alternating monthly between our Blue Mountains and Penrith Valley centres, on the third Friday of each month.
Eat yourself smart with Mindful Foodies
Although she may have had the will to swim her way from Poland to our shores Kasia saved her energy for developing knowledge, skills and most of all, an enduring love for food, good food and especially healthy food and she is now ready to share all things food in our new group Mindful Foodies.
Growing up in Poland and demonstrating a will to achieve Kasia’s parents identified this determination to do well and signed her, at a very young age into the sports pre-school located in the grounds of Warsaw Academy of Sport, where she was chosen to become a swimmer.
Studies followed her theme of health with her entry into the world of Food Technology with Dietary and Nutrition. Once settled in Australia, Kasia’s early life of health with food laid the foundation for her developing not only healthy menus but cooking skills to those identified as in need of nutritional knowledge.
Arriving home from shopping at the Farmers Market she found her home surrounded by local children asking questions related to produce they had never seen. Showing Polish hospitality she invited them to cook simple meals. Soon, she found herself surrounded by her neighbours regularly coming for simple healthy cooking experiences.
Calling once again on her energy to go one step further Kasia took her love of sharing good food from home to community and established her new venture, Cook Me Happy Inc.
Over time, Cook Me Happy Inc. classes regularly attracted 50 and 60 participants each class. Relationships with business, welfare agencies, schools, community groups, cooking classes for kids and cook books steadily grew with Kasia eventually finding herself on the morning show, Sunrise.
Time stood still in 2018, when diagnosed with aggressive stage 4, Breast cancer. Kasia will still say, “Year 2019 was a blur and 2020 I began my recovery. I have gained 55kg throughout the treatment, I have lymphoedema and I was so unwell and affected by medication, that I was not able to walk. However, my passion for food as medicine is even greater than ever. I spent the last three years researching and learning about herbs, potions, juicing and medical properties of food to support my recovery and severity of lymphoedema. By the end of last year, I started using and applying my own discoveries and presently I have lost 14 kg, I am able to walk, and I feel I am getting stronger by the minute”.
Kasia will run Mindful Foodies group at both Leura and Penrith but will launch this programme in a workshop format. The times of the Mindful Foodies groups to be confirmed at a later date.
Please check the Therapy & Support Group Timetable for dates.
This form of massage is specific to people experiencing cancer and must be delivered by by qualified therapists. Massage can reduce muscular tension, pain, fatigue, anxiety, depression and nausea. Oncology trained therapists provide the expert safe and gentle touch needed for clients during and after treatment.
Naturopaths can offer specific nutritional advice regarding diet and supplementation before and after cancer treatment to maximise recovery and improve outcomes. Diet and nutritional supplements can be extremely helpful in managing symptoms of disease and of treatments, specifically fatigue, stress, digestive upset and lowered immunity.
Reflexology is the application of pressure, stretching and movement to the feet and hands to trigger healing in corresponding parts of the body. It complements conventional cancer treatment by relaxing the body and reducing stress. It is especially effective for clients with post treatment neuropathy.
Is a safe, natural and simple method of promoting wellbeing benefiting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energies. Clients often find that Reiki relieves pain, anxiety, nausea and fatigue. Reiki may also support recovery from surgery and reduce side effects of treatment.
Yoga therapists design and combine gentle movements with specialised breath techniques to relax and calm both the body and mind, lower heart rate and blood pressure. The poses can be altered to suit you and your needs – there’s no tying yourself into pretzels. Relaxation is an important part of yoga and all the classes will include a relaxation period.
Over the past decade more and more studies have shown the benefits of yoga. Here’s 4 fabulous reasons why you might like to try therapeutic yoga:
- Improves sleep - Research has found yoga to help improve sleep quality, efficiency, and duration
- Lowers fatigue - A comprehensive study showed that there was 57% decreased fatigue, and up to 20% decreased inflammation in breast cancer patients, 6 months after the study began
- Promotes relaxation and helps manage stress - regular yoga practice lowers cortisol (the “stress hormone”) levels and blood pressure, and increases serotonin and endorphin production
- Promotes circulation and the flow of lymph - Australian research has shown how yoga movements and breathing promote the flow of lymph, and can even be used to help manage lymphoedema.
Our teacher Helen Laird has over 12 years experience in therapeutic yoga and specialist training from Australia’s leading Yoga for Lymphoedema researcher. Classes combine gentle movement with breathing and are tailored to your needs. For more information please call Helen on 0404 180 481.
Gentle Movement & Stretching
A gentle class that will mobilise all your major joints, lightly stretch your large muscle groups plus give you peaceful thoughts through a meditation phase. All movements can be done in a chair. No special clothes, equipment or anything needed.
A gentle class will mobilise all your major joints, lightly stretch your large muscle groups plus give you peaceful thoughts by doing a short meditation too!
Music will help us flow, spiral and stretch – all of the movements can be done in a chair & about half the class will be supported movement while seating. (your music requests are most welcome).
The goal of the class is to feel fabulous!
No special clothes, equipment or anything needed. This class is open to all fitness levels, all levels of health, all ages. You will be comfortable, the moves will be easy to follow, you can do as much or as little as suits you. If there are people looking to be more energetic – we can accommodate that too.
Qi Gong is a mind-body approach developed over 5000 years ago. Increasingly, this ancient practice, well known in China, is being used in the West as a way to develop health and wellbeing in the general population. It uses physical activity and meditation to harmonise the body, mind and spirit (Oh, Butow, Mullen, Clarke, Pavlakis, Kothe, Lam and Rosenthal, 2010).
Almost anyone can learn to practice Qigong because it is a simple and easy exercise. The word Qigong is a combination of two concepts - qi is the vital energy of the body and gong is the skill of working with the qi. Medical qigong for health and healing consists primarily of meditation, physical movements and breathing exercises. (Sancier, 2006).
Weekly Qigong sessions at Cancer Wellness Support involve a 10 minute discussion reporting on participants’ practice during the week; 10 minutes breathing and mindfulness meditation practice, either sitting or standing; 30 minutes gentle stretching and Qigong exercises in standing posture to stimulate the energy channels; 20 minutes serenity visualisation, mindfulness meditation practice or viewing an excerpt from a DVD demonstrating Qigong; 10 minutes closure discussion.
Patrice Thomas has studied Tai Chi-Qigong for over 15 years in Australia. She is also a trained Mindfulness Based Cognitive Training Practitioner and a YWCA Encore Coordinator (floor and hydrotherapy exercises for after breast cancer care). Patrice, a cancer survivor herself, is a teacher, university lecturer, popular presenter, published author and pioneer of stress management and relaxation programmes for children and the adults who care for them – recognised in Australia and overseas.
Wise Moves (Feldenkrais Method)
The Feldenkrais Method helps to improve posture, movement, coordination and manage pain by teaching you to move in a way that is optimal for you as an individual: with more comfort, ease and pleasure. Group sessions provide an optimal learning environment, where you learn at your own pace, in your own time, exploring gentle novel movements with awareness. Discover and open yourself to new ways of moving!
A safe place is the counselling space
Who is it I can sit with and share what is going on in my mind, in my life, in the lives of those I love or those who just might enter my world for a time and yet somehow rattle the core of me?
I wouldn’t know where to begin and anyway what would they think of me?
Could I really tell a stranger what I think and feel?
Many questions can go through our minds when we feel we want to talk about a problem or issue in our lives. Interestingly, we begin to focus on the fear driving our questions rather than recognising that talking to a stranger, at least a qualified stranger just might be a step in the right direction.
Counselling is talking.
With the development of neuro-science we are better able to understand how the brain works which has given us a scientific framework on which to hang, what has been known for years in the profession, that talking opens up new neural pathways in the brain. Talking therapy works.
The new pathways enable us to step out of the well-worn tracks in our brain and begin to develop different ways of thinking. Imagine a dirt road with deep tyre tracks dug into the surface you can’t help but get your tyres stuck in the grooves. Your old pathways are just like those grooves in the dirt road, you can’t help but get stuck in your old thoughts and feelings.
Talking therapy gives you time to create new ways of viewing your inner and outer world.
Counselling is confidential.
Once in the room with your counsellor, take a deep breath, breath out and relax. You can relax because your time with your counsellor is confidential. Knowing everything you share in the space remains just there. It is safe to share.
Counselling is skilled listening
Where to begin is never a problem. You are simply telling your story to a person who is trained in the art of listening. What a gift. To know you can take as much time as necessary to share your story, to be heard and most all, to be heard without judgement. You and the counsellor work together exploring the meaning you place on your story.
Financial Peace of Mind
We have a commitment to you to ensure our therapies are not only effective health choices but they are affordable. We subsidise both your individual, group therapies and retreats with income raised from our opportunity shops located in Katoomba and Penrith. We ensure that finances will not impact on your access to wellbeing.
Individual therapies $30
Group therapies $5