Should all beauty treatments start with talking therapy?
Ella Alexander/Harper’s Bazaar
It’s not news to many of us that our emotional wellbeing has a direct impact on our physical health. We inhabit a world that is increasingly aware of mindfulness and the importance of self-care, but rarely is this prioritised in the beauty treatments we choose. We have massages to either destress or to help with tension, or facials to help deal with tired looking skin, but what if the root of the problem lies within our mental or emotional state? What if the physical ailment is a symptom rather than the cause?
Holistic wellness coach and facialist Katie Light, who started her career as a beauty therapist 20 years ago, has honed a new approach to wellness through The Light Technique, which incorporates talking therapy, reiki, massage and reflexology to help clients feel de-stressed, energised, focused and lighter.
“From my perspective when you are treating a particular concern, holistic treatments treat the whole person, body, mind and emotions rather than just the physical condition,” Light told us. “Stress, as we know, can affect many aspects of body and mind, however it might just be manifesting and showing up in a physical symptom. Treating holistically, you work on a deeper level treating the whole person, re-balancing and re-aligning the physical and emotional.”
The Light Treatment goes far beyond the standard consultation form often barely glanced at by spa therapists. The session, which ranges from 75 to 90 minutes, starts with talking therapy – clients are asked how they’re really feeling and what’s going on in their lives that might influence their overall wellbeing. The reasoning here is that the therapist is then able to ascertain which from massage, reiki or reflexology the client might benefit most from and how long to spend on each, resulting in a tailor-made package.
“My clients say they feel heard, understood and lighter”
“The talking therapy part of the Light Technique is to actively listen and understand what the presenting problem relates to and to ascertain the possible cause,” says Light. “It also allows the client to talk through and understand where or how they might be in this stressful situation. We can then personalise the treatment/s using the best combination of therapies to deliver a totally individual treatment plan and be able to offer lifestyle tools to bring into their daily lives.”
Light works in-between London and Brighton but has trained a team of therapists based at the luxury Ockenden Manor in West Sussex to offer a three-day retreat that expands her signature 90-minute light treatment. Through workshops, activities, consultation and therapy sessions, the emotional and physical issues affecting guests’ well-being are addressed and improved.
“The talking therapy might go into a deeper level, during the retreats, looking at repeated patterns of behaviour, depending on the client and presenting problem,” Light explained. “Feeling heard and offering a treatment that is tailored to the clients’ concerns enables expectations to be attained, creating total client satisfaction and people feeling totally nurtured and rested.”
So how does it work and feel in practice? It is certainly novel to be asked in such an in-depth way about one’s emotional state inside a pampering treatment context. It also creates an intimacy and a connection with a therapist that doesn’t happen ordinarily, which makes you more relaxed and instantly lighter. It seems obvious that a personalised treatment would be more beneficial, and certainly in my case it did make me feel calmer and clearer than anything similar that I’d experienced before. There was a feeling of something being lifted, and this was just based on a 90-minute package. A three-day retreat which developed and harnessed these results in the bucolic setting of Ockenden Manor would have doubtlessly left me feeling practically zen-like.
“My clients say they feel heard, which doesn’t happen very often these days, understood, lighter and like something has shifted,” said Light. “Each client which have different outcomes dependent on what treatment they have, but most walk away feeling totally relaxed, calm, clearer and feeling balanced, with a new sense of energy and over time a new perspective on life.”