Spa experiences rooted in science
As if the wellness industry hadn’t had enough to contend with in the last couple of years, there’s another side to spa that has come under fire. It’ isn’t specifically a Covid related issue, but the spotlight has definitely been shone on it thanks to the heightened sensitivity we’re all experiencing across the board. The topic in question is science.
In the Global Wellness Institute’s Wellness October Barometer, Thierry Malleret said:
“Evidence-based wellness is an absolute-must. The wind is in the sails of the wellness sector, but to expand soundly and sustainably it must ensure that its offering is science-based.”
Covid, vaccines, and everything that has gone with it has exacerbated a sense of anxiety and mistrust in the world around us. Lots of people have cleaved to particular belief systems in a bid to create a feeling of safety around themselves and their families. This is entirely normal. We all have routines, rituals, quirks, beliefs and things that we swear by to help get us through the day - some make sense, some don’t.
In large part, that’s ok, but during the pandemic something insidious happened; a space opened up in which false, incomplete or biased information prayed on peoples’ vulnerabilities. For example, The Guardian reported on a convergence of conspiracy theories and wellness alongside a prevalent suspicion about science and big pharma. Meanwhile, the growing trend has previously seen articles on the likes of wellness influencer Belle Gibson, who faked having cancer to convince her followers that she cured it through healthy eating habits and exercise.
That escalation of pseudoscience has the capacity to cause enormous harm both to individuals and the wellness industry.
The world of spa and complementary therapies has historically faced two challenges:
- Being taken seriously
- Being clear about what it is and what it is not
Being taken seriously: evidence-based wellness
At Jennifer Young we are very science minded. We know the power of massage and other touch treatments, for anyone, but especially for anyone with cancer.
As we have chosen to specialise in oncology touch treatments, it’s imperative that what we do is informed by science to make sure that we only do good and that we don’t cause harm. The knowledge that we have also allows us, the therapists we train, and the individuals we treat to understand what they are getting from our treatments, how they can help, and to provide a sense of empowerment.
We are also very clear that while cancer treatment is a very unpleasant thing to go through, and that deciding whether and what to take in terms of treatment when it’s offered is a personal decision, we are strong supporters of medical science. Our role is to support the body and the mind through that process, not to interfere or contravene doctors.
Don’t make promises you cannot keep
The harm that can be done when information isn’t properly researched, or makes unfounded claims, isn’t just about physical damage; it’s also about mental and emotional damage.
To that end, the language that we use to talk about our skincare products and spa services is also very important. We are clear that what we do sits alongside medical science; it is not ‘alternative’ therapy and it’s not a ‘cure’.
We don’t have to head to the wild world of the internet to find people making outrageous claims about essential oils or other wellness products. We have been approached by many people who want to connect their sites with ours, claiming that frankincense essential oil can cure cancer. This is fundamentally untrue, or at least there is no evidence to support the claim. It is heart breaking when people are given this kind of hope and it’s not something any aromatherapist can deliver on. We are adamant about evidence-based literature because we think that if we claim something then our client deserves scientific proof that what we are saying is true.
For those of us in the wellness industry, the anti-science messaging is problematic. We exist in a space that many already don’t take seriously; showing its value has been a long and hard-won journey. Medical science and holistic therapies have the capacity to exist alongside one another. They are not the same thing, and we don’t need to undermine our own work by inflating its efficacy.
Spa treatments and wellness experiences have an important role to play in supporting individuals daily and during hard times. They are about helping and nurturing, and they have merit in their own right. Perhaps more important than anything, they are a joy to experience, and that is something that everyone can do with more of.
Jennifer Young therapist training is rooted in science-based knowledge and information to empower therapists to deliver safe and meaningful oncology touch treatments. If you would like to find out more, see the guide to our courses by following the link below.