Therapies – defined


Acupuncture treats a wide range of health problems from simple joint injuries to long term debilitating illnesses. Acupuncture is safe, yet powerful and is without side Heartwood Foundation Acupuncture - 2affects. It is appropriate for people of all ages, children to the elderly.

Acupuncture points lie on energy pathways or channels. When a person is healthy the energy flows smoothly and strongly through these channels. If the energy is disrupted then illness will occur. To correct these problems with Acupuncture, a number of very fine sterile needles are inserted into the acupuncture points to regulate the flow of energy in the channels and restore the normal balance. The needles are left in place for about 20 minutes. The points selected are specific for the individual and their particular illness.

Most people need several treatment sessions to recover the body’s normal energy flow and restore health. Acupuncture can be particularly effective in treating people with cancer. It can reduce side effects of chemotherapy such as:

  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Joint pain and neuropathy
  • Hot flashes
  • Anxiety, restlessness and insomnia
  • Fatigue

In addition, acupuncture can boost the immune system and help the body to regain health and well-being.

Bodywork / MassageHeartwood Foundation Massage - 1

Therapeutic massage has a profound effect on the mind, body and spirit.  For a woman with cancer, massage has a deeply relaxing effect on the body and helps to support the healing journey.  Our nurturing sessions are generally an hour in length and may incorporate a variety of healing techniques, such as: Swedish massage, aromatherapy, lymphatic drainage, energy work, breathing practices and visualization. These approaches help to bring circulation and comfort to the body.  Each treatment is specially designed for the woman’s unique needs.

Massage can minimize symptoms and greatly impact the body’s healing capacity. At a physical level, it can help to:

  • Reduce pain and discomfort
  • Relax muscle tension
  • Eliminate toxins
  • Reduce nausea
  • Adjust to physical changes
  • Speed healing in areas affected by surgery or radiation
  • Boost the immune system function

In addition to physical benefits, massage helps to quiet the mind and provide respite from anxiety.  This often helps to reduce insomnia and bring increased energy.  Professional, nurturing touch provides a welcome respite from the stress of medical visits, and treatment regimens. Many women report a sense of peace in the spirit through the support of this comforting modality.


Psychotherapy treats a wide range of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and adjustment to major life challenges. Working with a trained and licensed psychotherapist can help clients who seek help in adjusting to life changes, increasing self-esteem and self-care, and improving their relationships and communication.

It is appropriate for people of all ages who are interested in finding relief from emotional distress. Talking with a therapist helps people identify what is troubling them, examine their emotional reactions and behaviors, and learn strategies to cope with problems.

For participants in the Women and Cancer Program, psychotherapy sessions are tailored to each client’s needs and include:

  • A safe space to process the emotional impact of having cancer
  • Strategies to manage stress, fear, anger or worry
  • Exploration of the connection between physical health and mood
  • Assistance with problem-solving and
  • Increasing sense of connectedness and support

The timeframe and goals of psychotherapy are defined by clients with the help of their therapist. Most people can gain a sense of emotional groundedness and a reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress-level.


Meditation is an ancient practice created with the intention to help anyone who practices it find  relief from suffering of the mind, the body and the spirit.  The object of meditation is to learn to work with our busy minds so that we can begin to live more in the present moment rather than be driven by our almost constant thoughts about the past or the future.  It is our wild minds that often contribute most to our suffering.  By learning to tame our minds we can begin to let go, relax and discover a sense of inner peace.

The techniques for mindfulness meditation are very simple and can be done by any person of any physical ability.  One may choose from a variety of techniques ranging from following the breath to guided visualization.  For a woman with cancer, meditation can be the missing piece in her healing path which can help her deal with diagnosis, treatment and finally finding meaning in the experience of cancer.  A consistent practice of meditation will result in a more stable mind, body and spirit and can help you answer the question so often asked “why did this happen to me?”

The practice of mindfulness meditation can help to:

  • Calm the mind
  • Reduce fear and anxiety
  • Manage anger
  • Relax the body
  • Decrease physical pain
  • Help with insomnia
  • Connect to the spirit
  • Assist with the death and dying process

Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a unique system of exercise that uses slow, flowing movements to reduce stress and promote proper breathing, relaxation and balance. Originating in ancient China, it is taught and practiced today to help increase physical and mental well-being. Tai Chi is based on the Taoist concept of yin and yang, or the pursuit of balance in all things, integrating an individual’s body, mind and spirit.
It is suitable for all levels of fitness.

The focus in Tai Chi class is on breathing, alignment, weight-shifting and relaxation. The muscles are relaxed, the joints never fully extended or bent, the connective tissues not stretched. Movements are done standing, adjustments made for any knee or hip problems and many moves can be adapted to sitting in a chair.

For participants in the Women and Cancer program, Tai Chi can help:

  • Increase flow and quality of energy moving through the body, helping to decrease fatigue.
  • Strengthen the immune system, which helps the body better heal itself.
  • Promote relaxation, relieve stress and anxiety, through learning how to breath properly and focus on the present moment.
  • Improve body image through increasing ease of movement, flexibility and stamina.
  • Enhance mental clarity, calmness and patience.
  • Increase stamina and help to lower blood pressure.


Yoga is an ancient tradition that uses physical postures, breathing practices and relaxation to help people restore themselves to balance and strength. Yoga can provide the committed student with the opportunity to reconnect with the body during or after undergoing treatment for cancer. It is an integrating practice for both body and mind, and has been proven to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, digestive problems and muscle weakness.

If you come to a class, you might start with a Basics or Mellow level yoga class, or perhaps a few individual sessions if you have any significant limitations in your range of motion or in your endurance. A typical class might include:

  • A brief seated centering with breathing and intention setting. We do not speak about this practice from a religious standpoint; you are free to have any belief system.
  • 10-15 minutes of warming up the joints and muscles through dynamic movement.
  • 15-20 minutes of standing postures and breathing practice.
  • 10-15 minutes of seated stretches.
  • 5-8 minutes of guided relaxation and simple meditation practice.

In a one-on-one private session in the studio, you can work on anything you like with the instructor. You may receive instructions for a home practice that can help revitalize and support you even when you cannot come to class.

Alexander Technique

  • Require no special skills and are available to all ages & abilities
  • Improve posture and body mechanics for increased mobility & flexibility
  • Reduce pain, muscle tension, neuropathy and fatigue
  • Improve breathing and circulation, and can help with lymphedema symptoms
  • Improve body image and provide mood elevation
  • Provide self-care methods to use post-surgery and during chemotherapy
  • Promote calming and anxiety/stress reduction
  • Enhance mindful awareness and mental clarity

The Alexander Technique is an evidence-based mind/body practice for neuro-
muscular education and improved posture, body mechanics & breathing used
by healthcare providers such as Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Dr. Oz.

The Alexander Technique requires no skill or prior experience, and is available
to women of all ages wherever they are on their journey: post-surgery such as
mastectomy and reconstruction, or during chemotherapy.

Alexander Technique practices also promote better circulation and complement
treatments such as Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) for lymphedema.

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