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modalities

Learn more about how you can benefit your overall well-being.

The following are some complementary modalities that we offer in the Center for Wellness. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is an additional source of up-to-date information for these and other complementary modalities.

Acupuncture

One of the oldest medical traditions, acupuncture involves stimulation of anatomical points on the body. Stimulation most commonly involves penetrating the skin with hair-thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the acupuncturist. People report different experiences, though most individuals report little or no pain. In fact, many people report feeling either energized or pleasantly relaxed following a treatment. Acupuncture is designed to restore a state of balance to the body by unblocking vital energy that according to traditional Chinese medicine flows through the body along energy meridians. Western medicine has not fully explained how acupuncture works, but it has been proposed that acupuncture might help regulate the nervous and immune systems of the body.

Frequent Uses

  • Chronic and acute pain control
  • Nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy
  • Addiction
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Headache
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Myofascial pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • RSI
  • Asthma

Contraindications

Individuals who are pregnant, have a pacemaker or heart condition, have a seizure disorder, skin infection, or those with a bleeding disorder or taking blood thinners should discuss this with their physicians and/or acupuncturist before proceeding with acupuncture. While acupuncture is sometimes used to treat symptoms in cancer patients, it should not be used in lieu of standard medical treatment. Individuals should not receive acupuncture while intoxicated.

Practitioner Training

Licensure and training standards vary by states. In Massachusetts acupuncturists must be licensed by the state. Licensure requirements include successful completion of at least 2 years of undergraduate study (including coursework in biology, physiology, and anatomy), at least 1350 hours of clinical instruction in acupuncture, training in herbal medicine, and the comprehensive state licensing examination. All acupuncturists at the Center for Wellness are licensed by the state of Massachusetts.

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Massage Therapy

This method includes an assortment of manual therapies that manipulate the soft tissue of the body in order to reduce tension and stress, increase circulation, aid the healing of muscle and other soft tissue injuries, control pain, and promote overall well-being.

Frequent uses

  • Muscle Spasms and Swelling
  • RSI
  • Soreness related to injury and stress
  • Whiplash
  • Tension-related Respiratory Disorders
  • Body Motion Improvement
  • Neurological and Gynecological Problems
  • Acute and Chronic Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Flexibility
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Stress Reduction
  • Spinal Curvatures, i.e. Lordosis, Scoliosis
  • Headaches
  • TMJ Disorders
  • Posture Correction
  • Adjunct Treatment - Cardiovascular Disorder
  • Pregnancy
  • Digestion and Intestinal Function
  • Fibrosis and Adhesion to Muscles and Tissues
  • Skin Conditioning Improvement
  • General Well-being

Contraindications

  • Fever or Temperature that exceeds 99.4 Degrees
  • Severe Colds
  • Bacterial Infection
  • Aneurysm
  • Edema
  • Acute Infectious Disease, i.e. Strep throat
  • Influenza
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hematoma
  • Intoxication

As always, individuals should consult with their physician before entering a program, if they are being treated for a particular injury, disease, or disorder.

Practitioner Training

The National Certification for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork has established the recommended standard educational requirement to be the equivalent of 500 hours of training, including the subjects of anatomy, physiology, pathology, various massage techniques, and ethics. Many schools require more than this standard of hours. The therapist also has to be licensed by the state of Massachusetts.

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Reiki

Pronounced “ray-kee,” Reiki is an energy medicine practice in which the practitioner places her/his hands on or near the person receiving the treatment, with the intent to transmit ki, or a life-force energy. Reiki is an ancient practice that originated in Japan and although not scientifically proven, many individuals find Reiki improves the flow and balance of the body’s energy. Many individuals receive Reiki on its own or in combination with other therapies, such as massage. Typically, individuals receive Reiki fully clothed and in a comfortable position either sitting or lying down. 

Frequent uses

  • Stress reduction
  • Chronic pain
  • Recovery from surgery
  • Management of chemotherapy side effects
  • Lowering heart rate
  • Enhancement of immune function
  • Improved mental clarity
  • Increased sense of well-being and spirituality

Contraindications

Reiki appears to be generally safe for most people. Some advise that those with serious psychiatric problems should avoid receiving Reiki treatments unless symptoms are well-managed.

Practitioner Training

There is no one specific list of credentials or training requirements for Reiki practitioners. Students of Reiki must receive training from a Reiki teacher or Reiki master. Licensing requirements vary by location. All Center for Wellness Reiki practitioners are also licensed massage therapists, licensed by the state of Massachusetts.

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Shiatsu

Using a Japanese technique, this therapy is similar to acupressure. This Asian healing art uses finger and palm pressure, stretches, and massage techniques to treat pain and illness, reduce stress, and maintain health. Those who receive shiatsu report renewed vitality and deep feelings of wellness and relaxation. Finger and thumb pressure on precise body points is used to encourage the proper flow of Chi, a vital force of energy believed to circulate through the body. It aims to restore balance.

Frequent uses

  • Stress Reduction
  • Cleanse the body of toxins, i.e. Lactic Acid
  • Nervous Disorders
  • Constipation
  • Chronic Pain
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Menstrual Problems
  • Sciatica
  • Maintain Proper Internal Balance
  • Psychosomatic Disorders
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Sinus Problems
  • Increase Endorphins and Enkephalins
  • Proper Functioning of Endocrine System
  • Fibrosis
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle Strains
  • General Well-being

Contraindications

A shiatsu therapist can deal with almost any problem since he can modulate his touch to range from deep pressure to extremely light touch. However, in general, one should not receive shiatsu if he or she is under the influence or alcohol or drugs, or if she or he has a contagious fever or disease. If one has high blood pressure, no shiatsu should be given to the abdomen. Additionally, because pregnancy affects both a woman's energy and her body, the shiatsu therapist should also be aware of this. As always, individuals should consult with their physician before entering a shiatsu regimen if they are being treated for a particular injury, disease, or disorder.

Practitioner Training

The background and training of practitioners vary widely. Some schools award certificates or diplomas upon successful completion of their curriculum. However, there is no nationally recognized licensing or certification of shiatsu therapists. The Shiatsu Society can answer questions in regard to training/background.

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Yoga

This activity comprises a series of body positions and movements developed in order to help relax the body and calm the mind. Meditation and breathing exercises lead into cycles of stretches and poses that may vary from session to session.

Frequent uses

  • Stress Reduction
  • Muscular Strength
  • RSI
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Nerve/Muscle Disease
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Addiction
  • Heart Disease
  • Flexibility and Joint Range of Motion
  • Strengthen Bones
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Improve Concentration
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Premenstrual Syndrome and Dysmennorhea
  • Back Pain
  • Ulcers
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma/Bronchitis
  • General Well-being

Contraindications

Because yoga allows one to work at their own level of movement and participants are encouraged never to attempt poses that are uncomfortable or strained, there are few contraindications. However, certain postures require specific cautions. Participants should be sure to discuss specific injuries or aliments since trained yoga instructors can make certain to help one with modifying postures. Those who are pregnant or have heart disease should participate in programs that are modified for the condition. High blood pressure and epilepsy also require one not to hold their breath, but yoga can be very beneficial for these individuals. As always, the individual should consult with their physician before entering a program if they are being treated for a particular injury, disease, or disorder.

Practitioner Training

There is no nationally recognized certification for yoga instructors. The number of hours of training may vary widely. Check with the organization where the instructor was trained to investigate specific requirements.

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Meditation

This practice involves engaging in an activity that directs the mind to single point of focus, using breathing techniques or imagery in order to feel a state of calmness. It allows one to recognize the flow of thoughts and sensations without becoming involved with these factors, eliminating outside distractions to achieve a sense of higher awareness.

Frequent uses

  • Immune Function, i.e. AIDS, Cancer
  • Stress Reduction
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Chronic Pain
  • Early Childhood Abuse
  • Memory and Energy Improvement
  • Addiction
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Back Pain
  • Panic Disorders
  • Self-Esteem
  • General Well-Being

Contraindications

Since meditation is a gentle form of activity, focusing on inner awareness, there are no contraindications. It is recommended that the individual not meditate during a meal or when highly fatigued. Additionally, it is important with stress-related disorders that individuals recognize that meditation is not an alternative to medical treatment. As always, the individual should consult with their physician before entering a program if they are being treated for a particular injury, disease, or disorder.

Practitioner Training

There is no nationally recognized certification for those who teach meditation. The number of hours of training may vary widely. Check with the organization where the instructor was trained to investigate specific requirements.

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Tai Chi

Involving meditation, combined with slow, guided movement, this ancient practice is a form of martial art. It is intended to affect the flow of chi (energy) and bring about physical awareness.

Frequent uses

  • Stress Reduction
  • Flexibility and Balance
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Self-Esteem
  • Arthritis
  • Breathing Disorders
  • Energy Improvement
  • Osteoporosis
  • General Well-Being

Contraindications

Because Tai Chi involves gentle, slow movements, there are no specific contraindications. As always, individuals should consult with their physician before entering a program if they are being treated for a particular injury, disease, or disorder.

Practitioner Training

There is no nationally recognized certification for those who teach Tai Chi. The number of hours of training may vary widely. Check with the organization where the instructor was trained to investigate specific requirements.

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I have gotten enormous contributions to my health, fitness, and overall well-being. I have wanted to continue in large part because of the two instructors. They were so compatible. They are both extremely competent, knowledgeable, but also empathetic and sensitive. The Center for Wellness has a good range of program types and personalities to lead them.
- Female, Harvard Staff, Participant for over 10 years