Please note: Numerous dictionaries and websites have been consulted in compiling this glossary. We have listed all major healing terms used but not trademarked techniques which some practitioners utilise.
A system of complementary medicine in which fine needles are inserted through the skin at specific points along what are considered to be lines of energy (meridians), used in the treatment of various physical and mental conditions.
In theosophy and anthroposophy, the Akashic records are a compendium of thoughts, events, and emotions believed by theosophists to be encoded in a non-physical plane of existence known as the etheric plane.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical wellbeing. The inhaled aroma from these oils is believed to stimulate brain function.
A form of psychotherapy involving the encouragement of free self-expression through painting, drawing, or modelling, used as a remedial or diagnostic activity.
The study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs.
Ayurveda medicine is a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. Modernised practices derived from Ayurveda traditions are a type of complementary or alternative medicine. Ayurveda therapies and practices have been integrated in general wellness applications and as well in some cases in medical use.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Biomesotherapy is ‘a new therapy that combines homotoxicology, mesotherapy, and acupuncture. Saline solution and homeopathic formulations are injected subcutaneously at specific acupuncture or trigger points, and homeopathic formulations are administered orally during treatment sessions.’
The Bowen technique (or Bowen Therapy) is a type of physical manipulation named after Australian Thomas Ambrose Bowen (1916–1982). Bowen therapy has been used to treat musculoskeletal or related neurological problems including sports injuries and chronic conditions.
A philosophy and practice originated in India by Gautama Buddha (ca563BC–483BC, depending on interpretations), holding that life is full of suffering caused by desire and that the way to end this suffering is through enlightenment that enables one to halt the endless sequence of births and deaths to which one is otherwise subjected. Usually involves meditation and the practice of an ethical lifestyle.
A therapeutic system based primarily upon the interactions of the spine and nervous system, the method of treatment usually being to adjust the segments of the spinal column.
Counselling is the provision of professional assistance and guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems. The counsellor enables the client to explore aspects of their life and feelings by talking openly and freely.
A system of alternative medicine intended to relieve pain and tension by gentle manipulations of the skull regarded as harmonising with a natural rhythm in the central nervous system.
One of the most effective healing modalities known to humankind.
The branch of medicine dealing with the effects of the environment on human health, especially the physical, mental, and emotional responses to environmental factors.
A form of experiential therapy that involves interactions between patients and horses to promote physical and mental health.
The dictionary definition is ‘intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialised knowledge or interest.’ Usually used in relation to philosophy and spirituality.
Flower Essences (FE) are remedies made from the dew or essences of flowers. There are FE produced in almost every country from native flowers. One of the prominent practitioners was Dr Edward Bach (1886–1936).
The term GAPS, abbreviated from Gut and Psychology Syndrome, was created by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride in 2004 after working with children and adults with neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as autism spectrum disorders, ADD/ADHD, and psychiatric problems. GAPS practitioners work on diets suitable for treating the syndrome.
Gestalt Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach developed by Fritz Perls (1893–1970). It focuses on insight into gestalts (‘shape’ or ‘form’) in patients and their relations to the world, and often uses role-playing to aid the resolution of past conflicts.
The Gyrokinesis method is described as a movement method that gently works the entire body, opening energy pathways, stimulating the nervous system, increasing range of motion, and creating functional strength through rhythmic, flowing movement sequences. It is part of the Gyrotonic Expansion System Method founded by Juliu Horvath in 1942.
Halotherapy, derived from the Greek halos, meaning ‘salt’, is a form of therapy that makes use of salt. Numerous forms of halotherapy have been known of and used for millennia, especially at spas.
The study or use of the medicinal properties of plants. The herbalist prepares and uses herbs for medicinal purposes or to supplement a person’s diet.
Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine created in 1796 by Samuel Hahnemann, based on his doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), a claim that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people.
A form of psychotherapy that facilitates suggestion, reeducation, or analysis by hypnosis, which is generally defined as a trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.
Integrative medicine has been defined as healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasises the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient.
Kahuna Bodywork has been described as ‘a rite of passage, a way to help clients understand themselves and change their lives. It uses concepts and moves of Hawaiian martial arts together with elements of massage’. – Kia’i Weber from the Australian College of Kahuna Sciences.
According to the Australian Kinesiology Association, kinesiology is a complementary therapy that encompasses holistic health disciplines. Through the art of gentle muscle monitoring, kinesiologists communicate with the body’s innate intelligence to identify and clear underlying stresses to facilitate and promote health and wellbeing.
The use of lasers in cosmetic or medical care. For example, a laser beam can be used to make bloodless cuts in tissue or remove a surface lesion such as a skin tumour.
Life Alignment has been described as ‘a system of vibrational healing that facilitates the release of energetic and emotional blockages and can also provide protection from geopathic stress and other environmental pollution’.
Life coaching addresses specific personal projects, business successes, general conditions and transitions in the client’s personal life, relationships or profession. A life coach assists in discovering challenges and finding a path of action to deal with them.
The art of treating the body by rubbing, kneading, patting, or the like, to stimulate circulation, increase suppleness, relieve tension, etc. There are many different types of massage on offer; see 10 Most Popular Types Of Massage for examples – http://bit.ly/masstypes.
A method of religious contemplation or spiritual introspection, cultivating a sense of awareness of self without daily distractions. There are many different types of meditation, from concentrating on one’s own breath to walking mindfully.
A technique in which one focuses one’s full attention only on the present, experiencing thoughts, feelings, and sensations but not judging them.
According to the Australian Natural Therapists Association, naturopathy is ‘an holistic approach to wellness based on the principle that the body has the inherent ability to heal itself. Using the healing power of nature and gentle therapeutic techniques, the body, mind and emotions are supported during the healing process’.
Metaphysical healing is based on the belief that negative mental patterns can result in physical disease or illness, and that the reversing of those negative mental patterns into positive patterns can in turn lead to healing.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in California in the 1970s. Proponents say there is a connection between neurological processes (neuro-), language (linguistic) and behavioural patterns learned through experience (programming), and that these can be changed to achieve specific goals in life.
Nonviolent Communication (abbreviated NVC, also called Compassionate Communication or Collaborative Communication) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (defined as an understanding of the heart in which we see the beauty in the other person), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).
Nutritional Medicine is based on the principle that nutrients, including essential micronutrients, are required for the proper functioning of all the biochemical processes on which our bodies depend. When treating symptoms or diseases, practitioners look for underlying causes which, although often partly genetic, are tied up with nutritional and environmental factors.
Organic food and produce
Any natural food popularly believed to promote or sustain good health, as by containing vital nutrients, being grown without the use of pesticides, or having a low sodium or fat content. Organic food is the product of a farming system that avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock-feed additives.
Osteopathy emphasises massage and other physical manipulation of muscle tissue and bones to treat dysfunction. Osteopaths focus on how the skeleton, joints, muscles, nerves and circulation work together to improve health and wellbeing.
The treatment of disease, injury, or deformity by physical methods such as massage, heat treatment, and exercise rather than by drugs or surgery.
Pilates is a physical-fitness system developed in the early 20th century by Joseph Pilates. Often using various apparatus, Pilates classes build strength, flexibility and lean muscle tone with an emphasis on lengthening the body and aligning the spine.
The word pranic stems from the Sanskrit word prana meaning ‘vital life force’. It involves a healing practice that utilises prana or ki energy.
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for health, especially for the digestive system.
Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction, to help a person change and overcome problems. There are over a thousand different psychotherapy techniques.
A system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head linked to every part of the body.
A healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch, to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body and restore physical and emotional wellbeing.
Rolf Method of Structural Integration
Structural Integration is a type of bodywork that focuses on the connective tissue, or fascia, of the body. Fascia surrounds muscles, groups of muscles, blood vessels, organs, and nerves, binding some structures together while permitting others to slide smoothly over each other. It is based upon the work of Ida P Rolf (1896–1979). See more at www.rolfguild.org.
According to shamanism.com, shamanism is an ancient healing tradition and way of life. Shamanic teachings focus on our connection to nature and all of creation.
Shiatsu is a manipulative therapy developed in Japan and incorporating techniques of Japanese traditional massage, acupressure, stretching, and western massage. All types of acupressure generally focus on the same pressure points and energy pathways adhered to in acupuncture, but may differ in terms of massage technique.
Relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind. From the Greek soma for ‘body’.
Somatic psychology is a form of alternative medicine that focuses on somatic experience, and the embodied self, including therapeutic and holistic approaches to body. Body psychotherapy is a general branch of this subject, while somatherapy, eco-somatics and dance therapy, for example, are specific branches of the subject.
Sound has been utilised in various cultures for thousands of years as a tool for healing. The intention is to alter a brainwave state positively by using rhythm and frequency generated by drumming, tuning forks, singing bowls, and so on.
A spa is a location where water in various forms is used as therapy. It may be a mineral spring or a resort that incorporates massage, saunas and beauty treatments.
Tantra is the overarching name, meaning ‘to weave’, for a number of esoteric disciplines in Hinduism and Buddhism. Tantra utilises practices such as visualisation and meditation. Much of its modern practice in the West is do with linking sexuality to spirituality in an ecstatic and healing fashion.
Trauma resolution is intended chiefly to help overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Trauma resolution therapy assists individuals to bring trauma-related memories to light in a safe environment with the help of therapists. Many different types of therapeutic techniques may be involved.
The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.
Originally a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the supreme being or ultimate principle. it can incorporate a series of postures and breathing exercises practised to achieve control of the body and mind, tranquillity, etc. It includes disciplines such as Hatha yoga, Yin yoga and Kundalini yoga, all dealing with different aspects of the body, mind and spirit.