Shiatsu Society (UK)

Fiona Carson July Practitioner in Focus

This month we caught up with Shiatsu therapist Fiona Carson MRSS to discuss her influences and working within NHS hospitals. 

Why did you choose to learn Shiatsu?
I had a flatmate in my 20’s who was studying shiatsu, who used me to practice on. I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt afterwards, like my body had been taken apart, then reassembled into a much better form…lighter, more energy, more fluidity in movement and a beautiful deep sense of wellbeing mentally and physically.

I trained in Shidokan karate for several years prior to starting shiatsu and when we got up to black belt level we were encouraged to learn shiatsu in order to repair some of the damage we could inflict!

Which Shiatsu teachers have inspired you?

My first year teacher at the European Shiatsu School was an incredible woman called Jill Carter. She did loads of Qi gong with us and really made the 5 elements come alive by taking us into the rivers, woods and Avebury stone circle and getting us to connect to the natural power of the elements in our bodies. 
What other practices support and are a part of your Shiatsu Practice?

My mum was a very talented therapist and healer and she passed on loads of her knowledge to me about aromatherapy, crystals, reiki, energy work, spirit guides, reflexology, Bach flowers, shamanism etc. I’ve always had her initial teachings as my base for further spiritual and healing work. 

I’m in the process of studying kinesiology as I’ve found that an amazing therapy for getting right to the root cause of a problem. I’ll graduate in that next year and I’m looking forward to mixing Shiatsu with all my new kinesiology tools. 
Could you tell us about your work at Royal Berkshire Hospital?
I have been working at the Royal Berks Hospital in Reading for about 3-4 years, doing 30 minute shiatsu sessions on staff. Staff pay for the sessions themselves and I offer them an NHS discount. It’s a great arrangement for everyone: staff benefit from Shiatsu, I get a whole new range of clients and advertising and the hospital management feels good because they are offering wellbeing support to their staff. The hospital provides me with a free room and does most of the internal advertising.

How did this come about? 

I was introduced to the Occupational Health Director through one of my clients who worked at the hospital. I urge all practitioners to contact their local hospital and see if they can set up something similar. Shiatsu is the perfect therapy to offer in the workplace and they are crying out for our help!

Any other useful tips and strategies for working in hospitals and developing Shiatsu‘s place within integrative health care?

I’ve found advertising as ‘Acupressure Massage’ pulls in a lot more people than Shiatsu. Obviously I explain to clients when they turn up that what I’m doing is called Shiatsu. Nobody knows what Shiatsu is outside of London, Brighton and Bath, but that's a topic for another day! 
How has Shiatsu changed your life?

Before Shiatsu, I had been working in the music industry and publishing for 10 years and I was a burnt out and knew I needed to something different. My mum told me when I was 17 that I’d only be happy working if I was helping people but of course I didn’t want to hear that then, I wanted to be an actress and later, a DJ! 

I started learning shiatsu when I was 30 and the training blew me away right from the start! It was inspiring and amazing to be learning about energy and Chinese medicine and I chose the European Shiatsu School in Marlborough, partly because I wanted to be based near the magical landscape of Avebury. 

Practically, it’s been amazing being able to work as a self-employed shiatsu practitioner, doing something I love and find so fulfilling, all the while being able to be there as a single mum for my son. 
Are there any areas or client groups you have particularly focused on working with, and if so why?

This past year I’ve had lots of new clients in their 70s and 80s. I’m loving working with this older client group, hearing their life stories and enjoying how surprisingly open-minded they are. Shiatsu helps them in so many ways, mobility, mood enhancement, flexibility, relief from arthritis and pain etc. and most importantly helping them find a renewed joi de vivre. Maybe it would be a good idea for the Society to market to this demographic? 
Where would you like your Shiatsu to develop in the future?

I want to teach more, spread the word out to a larger audience, sharing grassroots basic techniques with everybody. I’m also trying to set up a clinical trial on patients undergoing major surgery. I was inspired by the work of Diego Sanchez working with cardiac patients in New York. If anyone has any ideas on how to progress this project, I would love to hear from you!

Any events coming up? 

I’m running some local Shiatsu basics and 5 element workshops on the 15th September and 17th November at the Positivity Centre in Burnham, nr Slough. Come along! 

Find out more about Fiona: