I've been told I can't treat cancer patients - is that true?Sep 17, 2021
As far as spa therapists go, this is a tale as old as time. Historically, training and messaging has taught therapists that they cannot, MUST not provide touch treatments to cancer patients. It has been so loud, so pervasive that it has terrified generations of practitioners and continues to spread its uncomfortable tentacles across the industry.
The ‘ban’ is exacerbated by outdated insurance companies, chronic misinformation and substandard training solutions that don’t provide therapists with appropriate knowledge, not just on what they can do but why they can do it and when. As a result, cancer patients continue to either be turned away from spas or don’t inform spas that they have had a cancer diagnosis, both of which can be upsetting for therapists and clients alike.
All of this means that continue to be asked ‘I've been told I can't treat cancer patients - is that true?’, by bereft therapists, traumatised from having to tell someone in need that they cannot touch them.
The answer is ‘no’, it’s not true - you just need the right training.
How therapists are taught and why it's important
For decades, therapists have been told that providing touch treatments to cancer patients, is not only a big faux pas, but is in fact dangerous. They have been told that they can cause pain, cause harm, and even that they can spread cancer cells around the body by stimulating the lymph nodes through massage.
First and foremost - no form of touch can make cancer spread around the body. It’s impossible. When it comes to causing pain or any other problem (infection for example), as with any other client, this is about knowing what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and making sure you know who you’re treating and what their circumstances are (a.k.a, your consultation). If you do those things and have the appropriate insurance in place (we know a girl), then there’s no reason at all not to treat clients with, or who have had, cancer.
What makes good training in oncology touch treatments?
At Jennifer Young our whole purpose has been to provide therapist training that supports and is suitable for cancer patients. We have definitely done the leg work as well - from product creation all the way through to working with insurers to ensure our therapists can gain coverage post training.
As every person is different, every cancer journey is different and every situation is different, we believe that it isn’t enough to simply be given a set of protocols and sent on our merry way. We think it’s important to understand why you’re doing something: What is the basic biology of cancer and cancer treatment? Why is this this movement appropriate and that one is not? Why this oil ok to use but that one isn’t?
This way of learning has two profound and important benefits:
- It gives you the ability to adapt treatments to individuals and their personal circumstances
- It gives you confidence in your decision making processes around risk management because it is no longer about guess work
Meeting and exceeding standards for cancer care
The good news is that as the word spreads that cancer patients don’t have to be turned away from touch treatments (and shouldn’t have to be either), there are more training providers emerging. The problem however, is that they don’t all offer the same standard of cancer care.
For businesses and therapists, it’s important to remember, as with all training, that this isn’t a box checking exercise. This is about providing a supportive and empowering working environment for therapists, and a safe space for clients, especially when they’re vulnerable. We work closely with the SATCC (Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care), who set out guidelines for training standards in oncology touch treatments, and we consistently aim to exceed those expectations every time.
If you would like to find out how you can learn to provide touch treatments that are suitable and adaptable for cancer patients, contact our team any time, or follow the link below to our courses guide.
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