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Integrative Wellness: Looking Forward

Once you've heard the words "You have cancer," you can't look back. You must look forward. You need to look past the treatment and focus on how to live a healthy, happy life, with spiritual and emotional well-being. These ideas inspired the Looking Forward program.

Integrative Wellness
Looking Forward is a multi-faceted, nationally recognized integrative wellness, support and education program that helps cancer patients and their loved ones deal with the many issues related to this disease. It helps cancer patients take control of a seemingly uncontrollable situation. Looking Forward gives patients the information and support they need - essential elements in the recovery process.

More than 20,000 patients have turned to Looking Forward over the years. Program offerings include:

Energy Balancing

Energy balancing, sometimes referred to as Healing Touch is a very gentle and effective way to balance and restore health to the mind, body and spirit. It's considered a form of healthcare by the National Institute of Health's National Center of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. It is defined as a healthcare intervention that focuses on the various levels of the human energy field with the intent to create optimal health. One example of your energy field is your heartbeat, which has an electrical impulse.

When you are sick or in pain, your energy can become blocked or knotted. Energy balancing is an intentionally directed process of energy exchange during which the practitioner uses their hands as a focus to facilitate the flow of energy within you.

It is a gentle and effective way to balance and restore health to the body, mind and spirit. It is achieved using a light touch or hovering the hends over the body, in an effort to remove energy blocks; it is the process of clearing and balancing your energy field.

Of those patients who have received energy balancing at our center, 97 percent reported significant pain and stress reduction; 95 percent reported improved mood and outlook.

What to expect during an Energy Balancing Session

  • The session will last approximately 30 minutes
  • You remain fully clothed, removing only your shoes
  • You will lay on either a massage table, hospital bed or in a recliner chair
  • Energy balancing can also be done without touching your body if preferred
  • You will not change position unless you need or want to

Energy Balancing is available by appointment. Please call 203.789.3946.

Gentle Yoga

Sometimes called integrative yoga therapy, this individualized, gentle style of yoga allows anyone to participate by modifying postures. It is an excellent way to manage stress, reduce tension and anxiety, reduce pain and increase strength, flexibility and mobility.

Yoga can be modified to meet individual needs (using a chair or the wall for assistance with balance) and is often used as a form of physical therapy. Postures can even be performed while seated. Your yoga instructor can talk with you about any physical limitations to help modify your yoga practice.

Participation in the class is based on physician approval. While there is no fee, participants must pre-register by calling 203.789.3946. This class is offered Mondays from 5:15 - 6:15 pm.

Guided Imagery

Imagery is a flow of thoughts you can see, hear, feel, smell or taste in your imagination. During guided imagery, you enter your imagination with the direction of a "guide." It is a kind of deliberate, directed daydreaming that uses soothing music and narrative to evoke powerful physical responses.

It gently guides the mind and body into a relaxed, healing and immersive state. It works easily for most people and becomes easier with continued practice. Whether climbing a mountain or floating on a cloud, these sessions teach the valuable technique of visualizing comforting and empowering places - places you can return to during the moments of pain and loss common during the cancer journey. Proven scientific benefits include reduced stress, pain and anxiety; slowed heart rate; a strengthened immune system; decreased treatment side effects; and increased creativity and problem solving.

To schedule a one-on-one session or group training, please call 203.789.3488.

Holistic Nutrition

We view nutrition from a mind/body perspective and an integrative approach to nutritional counseling. Lead by a registered dietitian, we teach patients how to integrate healthy eating habits during their treatment and recovery. To help the healthy habits become more permanent, we use several proven techniques including mindfulness training, behavior modification, stress management, smoking cessation and gentle exercise.

Sessions with our dietitian include a review of vitamins, herbals, and supplements to determine benefit or harm during treatment. All recommendations and guidelines are derived from evidence-based medicine. We provide patients with strategies to manage treatment-related nutrition problems through diet modification.

Look Good Feel Better

The Looking Forward Specialty Shop, together with the American Cancer Society, sponsors a FREE monthly workshop, "Look Good, Feel Better." This 2-hour workshop assists patients who are undergoing treatments with complimentary makeup and a makeover; skin care tips; hats, caps and scarf tying instructions; wig styling and information on wig cutting.

Held the first Monday of every month from 12:30 – 2 pm, the workshop offers light refreshments. Registration is recommended as space is limited; please call 203.789.5904.

Looking Forward Specialty Shop

The Looking Forward Specialty Shop has a special purpose: To help cancer patients adjust to the hair loss and skin changes that may occur during treatment and to offer support. Services include:

  • Teaching patients how to tie and/or wear turbans, scarves, wigs and other accessories
  • Makeup consultations, application lessons and makeovers
  • Supportive items as in guided imagery CDs and soothing, healing music
  • Aromatherapy products
  • Information on prosthetic resources, support groups, integrative medicine services and volunteer opportunities
  • Gift certificates

The specialty shop also co-sponsors a monthly workshop, "Look Good, Feel Better," with the American Cancer Society. This free workshop, held the first Monday of every month, features complimentary makeup and a makeover; skin care tips; hats, caps and scarf tying; wig styling and information on wig cutting; and light refreshments. Space is limited; please call 203.789.5904 to make a reservation.

The Specialty Shop hours in New Haven are Monday thru Friday from 8:30 am to 4 pm. The Specialty Shop hours in Hamden are Monday thru Friday in the morning. For an appointment outside of the normal operating hours, contact 203.789.5904 or pperry@srhs.org.

Medical Pilates

Medical Pilates combines elements of physical therapy, traditional Pilates exercises and stress-reducing mindfulness in a gentle, yet empowering method. Medical Pilates is a particularly beneficial, holistic approach to rehabilitation for cancer patients. Utilizing Pilates principles, the class offers:

  • Stretching and awareness of posture and alignment
  • Muscle-balancing and toning
  • Gentle, safe and non-impact exercises
  • Development of the mind–body connection to get participants in touch with their spine, muscles, and breath to aid recovery.

Participation in the class is based on physician approval. While there is no fee, participants must pre-register by calling 203.789.3488. This class is offered the first and third Thursday of each month from 9 – 10 am.

Pet Therapy

Our volunteer-based Pet Therapy Program brings four-legged joy to patients and visitors in the hospital for approximately three years. Specially trained to deliver warmth and comfort to patients, the pet therapy dogs have earned "Canine Good Citizen" certificates to become official "pet therapists." Wearing their little pet therapy vests, they escort their trainers to various wards throughout the hospital helping inpatients temporarily forget about their pain, pre-operative patients calm their jitters, and bringing smiles to the faces of all the visitors they pass along the way.

Research shows that pet therapy promotes healing and comforts patients undergoing various procedures and treatments. Observing the smiling faces of patients who are stroking under pet chins or scratching one of the dogs behind the ears bears out the data. Each of the dogs visits more than 50 patients per visit.

For more information, please call the Volunteer Office at 203.789.3480.

Psychological and Emotional Support Services

We provide psychological and emotional support services to our patients. Counseling services are available to patients and families by certified counselors and licensed clinical social workers. Counseling may help with the challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis, to help adapt to serious illness, communicate with family and friends, and assist with the impact of illness on employment. Information about community resources is also available. Social workers also provide case management to address the patient's multiple needs, such as financial concerns, long-term planning, transportation, and home care.

Psychiatry staff is also available for consultations and follow-up for patients who have significant levels of distress. Since anxiety and depressive symptoms can interfere with the ability to tolerate treatment and quality of life, obtaining assistance in coping is important.

American Cancer Society Resource Center

The American Cancer Society Resource Center offers informational pamphlets, educational brochures and a computer terminal on which patients and their caregivers can research various cancer treatments, side effects and programs/events and services offered through the American Cancer Society

Support Groups

Visit our Support Groups page to learn more about all of our support groups, including those designed for cancer patients.

Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT)

With the Urban Zen Integrative Therapy (UZIT) Program, founded by fashion designer Donna Karan, patients and their loved ones are offered integrative therapy sessions in the privacy of their room or in small group settings. A trained UZIT therapist will provide eastern healing techniques including yoga therapy (in-bed or in-chair movement, restorative poses, breath awareness and meditation), essential oil therapy and, a gentle technique to restore and renew energy. The UZIT Program has been designed to ease pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation and the ensuing exhaustion.

For more information on UZIT, please call 203.789.3301.



 

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