I have always taken the more convoluted path through life, following my interests, what makes sense, and the energy. My various backgrounds include Languages, Photography, Education, Youth Work, Sports Coaching, Mental Health, and Massage Therapy. There are three strands to what led me to become a holistic therapist:
1. Massage as part of therapy.
Following a life-changing breakdown in my early 20s, copious therapy stripped away everything I thought I knew, replacing it with new ideas of how to see and do things. This was no easy feat after 20 years’ worth of practice in my former ways. Whilst things seemed brighter, an anxiety remained, which I had to learn to soothe. Self-care had never before featured on my agenda, so this was a new task. Massage was one of the ideas, but I was nervous, not knowing what was expected, how much privacy there would be, what would happen, and not wanting to appear silly in asking. After several months I plucked up the courage to go. It was fine. Whilst feeling strange and awkward at first, it helped me unwind a great deal. This then became a regular treat, though not frequent due to cost.
As with most of my self-care repertoire, I fell off the bandwagon for quite some time as my life picked up and got underway. I had other demands on my time and distractions on my mind. It wasn’t until several years later when I developed debilitating back pain that I revisited massage. This time it was a suggestion given to me, to visit ‘the guy at the gym,’ which was a different approach compared to my previous ‘spa’ experience, which I’d never considered. And different it was. Straight into a critique of my posture and then directly to the muscles causing the problem. No frills; no nonsense. This became another regular (but still not frequent) occasion as the pain became chronic and lingers to this day. The change in approach to massage – the focus on the interactions of the physical body – was a refreshing change from the previous focus on the mind. It led to my further exploration of the body, and took me to yoga, where a new interest emerged; the link between mind and body.
2. Needing to understand the body
By this point in time, I had developed a need to understand more about this psycho-somatic connection; how the body could help to heal the mind, and the mind help to heal the body. After a while of yoga, I noticed emotions rising within me during my practice with increasing intensity. Then in a new dose of therapy, I had experienced both how the emotional aspect of trauma can linger in the body with a remarkably equal number of physical and psychological symptoms, and the marvels of how EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitising Reprocessing) encourages the mind/body to process past trauma, with a surprising and pleasing impact on both. With an extensive background in mental health already, I decided to study Sports Massage for the depth of physical study and analytical qualities of the discipline. This was a solid foundation I knew I would be able to build further therapies upon.
3. Doing what I believe and staying congruent to my values
Whilst I have always taken jobs which I believed in, they have inevitably had a ‘helping’ and/or ‘serving’ role. Whilst the organisations and roles fitted with my values when I started/whilst I was there, eventually there would be a change – in the organisation or in myself - and the alignment fell out somehow. Ultimately I can only operate within my entire values system when I have direct charge of direction and decisions made. It is really important to me to work within the broad framework of my values, comprising:
Vegan and Cruelty Free - all products I use contain no animal ingredients or derivatives thereof. No products I use, nor their components are tested on animals. Where possible I try to use companies who also embrace these values.
Sustainable and Zero Waste – all products I use are sustainably sourced. This includes couch roll, where used, and oils. All paper products are recycled and recyclable and printed climate neutral. Wherever possible I operate in such a way to eliminate any waste, and where this isn’t possible will always minimise this.
Safe space – any space I use, whether in clinic, home studio or at an event, will be fit for the type of treatment on offer, with careful consideration given to privacy and dignity; the specifics of these guided by the client. Communication is of the utmost importance, to ensure that all parts of any treatment are consensual. All information given as part of assessment processes is dealt with in the strictest of confidence.
Inclusive – my treatments are available to all bodies, and can be adapted to account for insecurities and to accommodate privacy concerns. I passionately believe that all treatments should be available to all people, regardless of income. Those on a limited income are welcome to contact me to discuss affordability concerns and how we can work to overcome these barriers.
Author - Zoe Copeland, MFHT
With a background in education, sports coaching and mental health, Zoe began to explore more holistic avenues of helping people with a particular focus on where the mind and body meet. Zoe began her bodywork training in Sports Massage and has since studied other massage theories and techniques, as well as Reiki, to provide a holistic approach to each treatment. With specific training in women's health, trauma and scars, she has developed an intuitive practice which leaves you feeling a positive change in your body and mind after every appointment.