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New National Qualification in Complementary Cancer Care

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre, the national charity that represents the "gold standard in complementary cancer care" (Professor Karol Sikora, leading oncologist and adviser to the WHO Cancer Programme), today continued to raise standards with the launch of its new national qualification for complementary therapists: the Certificate In Working With People With Cancer. This is first qualification of its kind to improve complementary cancer care in the UK.

Dr. Ian Gibson MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, presented certificates to graduates of the charity's rigorous training programme at an award ceremony at the Centre on 30th July 2003. He congratulated the successful course graduates and commented:

"I welcome the important contribution that the Bristol Cancer Help Centre has made to raising standards in complementary cancer care. Cancer patients are increasingly seeking out and benefiting from complementary therapies and self help approaches alongside their medical treatment. As the NHS Cancer Plan recognises, there is an ongoing need to improve integrated cancer care.

"This new Certificate In Working With People With Cancer will both ensure that complementary therapists better understand and support the needs of their cancer patients, and will help allay the understandable concerns of healthcare professionals."

Those receiving the first certificates to be awarded include massage therapists, counsellors, nutritional therapists, and reflexologists. The certificate is proving very popular with complementary therapists wanting to know more about working with people with cancer. Over 70 therapists have already started enrolling on Certificate courses for the next two academic years.

"The Bristol Cancer Help Centre has twenty three years experience of working with thousands of people with cancer. We also train over 500 health professionals and complementary therapists a year, " the charity's Chief Executive Christopher Head explained.

"Drawing on this unique expertise, we have developed the 'Certificate In Working With People With Cancer' specifically to ensure that complementary therapists learn how to use and develop their skills, and learn new techniques in order to better support people with cancer."

The new certificate will contribute to therapists' continuing professional development. It comprises six educational and experiential courses on the following topics:

  • An introduction to the Bristol Approach to cancer care,
  • What is cancer - an introduction to understanding the disease and current approaches to treatment
  • Learning to use the self help approaches of relaxation, meditation and visualisation
  • Counselling skills for complementary therapists working with people with cancer
  • An Introduction to palliative care
  • Introducing complementary therapies into a healthcare organisation

Participants are also required to submit a reflective portfolio giving an indication of their personal learning acquired during the course.

Only registered therapists with a minimum of two years experience are eligible for the course, and therapists must also be working or prepared to provide volunteer support in the NHS, a hospice or other organized healthcare setting.


  • For more press information and photographs contact Clare Benjamin, on 0117 980 9515 or email: cbenjamin@bristolcancerhelp.org
  • For information about the new certificate and other courses for complementary therapists please contact the Bristol Cancer Help Centre on 0117 980 9500 or email: pjames@bristolcancerhelp.org
Notes to editors
  1. The Bristol Cancer Help Centre was founded in 1980 by the late Penny Brohn a woman living with cancer, and her great friend Pat Pilkington to support people living with cancer and those close to them. It is the UK's leading holistic cancer charity that has pioneered and specialises in the world famous Bristol Approach to cancer care that provides a unique range of physical, emotional and spiritual support to help people to deal with the challenges a cancer diagnosis brings.
  2. The charity offers information and support through its National Telephone Helpline service. Bristol Approach residential courses at the Centre provide people affected by cancer with a unique programme of care combining complementary therapies, self-help techniques, including practical advice on nutrition, and emotional support. The charity's Cancerpoint service enables people with cancer in the Bristol area to access individual appointments with the Centre's therapy team.
  3. The Bristol Approach works hand in hand with conventional medical treatment, and has been developed and is delivered by the charity's experienced multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and complementary therapists.
  4. The charity also works to integrate a holistic approach into mainstream cancer services, and to develop good practice in the field of complementary cancer care, training over 500 health professionals and complementary therapists a year, in using the Bristol Approach to support people with cancer.
  5. For information and support contact the Bristol Cancer Help Centre National Telephone Helpline on 0845 123 2310 email helpline@bristolcancerhelp.org or log onto this website

"I returned home after my residential week at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre a complete person once more, having been so lovingly given back all of the broken and lost parts of my soul - and shown how to keep them safe.  It truly was a life changing experience."

Trish Hill