Complementary Therapies

Until Next Time

Our amazing therapists, dedicated social workers, compassionate chaplains, RN Case Managers and CNAs are available for frequent in-person visits. But when they aren’t with you or your loved one, we've collected activities, virtual adventures, and videos in our Until Next Time program!

Hospice Alliance Music Therapist, Heidi, playing the guitar and singing hymns
Enjoy sing-a-longs, breathwork, stretches and hymns from our music therapist, Heidi!

Hospice Alliance is at the forefront of using complementary therapies to provide the best quality of care for the whole person – physically, spiritually and emotionally.

There is great effort to make someone’s end-of-life story be filled with meaningful moments.

—Trish Koeppel (volunteer)


Essential oils have many effects on the body, mind and spirit with hospice patients perhaps most benefiting from the peace and comfort the therapy provides.

Since sense of smell is tied to memory and emotions, aromatherapy can evoke good memories and have a positive psychological response with our patients. Sometimes, patients who are agitated and unable to express themselves become calm and restful when aromatherapy oils are used. It can help control pain, stress and anxiety. Often simply smelling a certain fragrance can take a patient back to positive experiences throughout his or her life.

Benevolent Touch Therapy

All Hospice Alliance patients have the opportunity to experience benevolent touch, a form of light touch massage therapy as part of their hospice care. The entire Hospice Alliance staff and all volunteers who interact with patients have been trained in benevolent touch, a type of therapy especially beneficial for patients with dementia or sensory loss due to aging.

Benevolent touch therapy consists of 10 techniques, beginning with massaging shoulders, back, hands, head and/or feet using light squeezes and flat palm circle movements

Benevolent Touch has been shown to:

  • Reduce feelings of anxiety
  • Reduce feeling of loneliness and sensory deprivation
  • Build trust and feeling of safety
  • Improve relationships by increasing feelings of affection
  • Reduce agitation and restlessness
  • Improve circulation, energy level and the ability to sleep

The theory behind benevolent touch is that even though the mind deteriorates, the body remembers.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can ease pain, reduce feelings of isolation and calm emotions. In the hospice setting, massage therapy is usually a lighter touch and a shorter session than traditional massage. The massage takes place wherever the patient is most comfortable and is often performed through the clothing. Massage therapy helps to decrease pain, increase circulation, and relax the patient. Massage therapy also enhances spiritual well-being and helps the patient become grounded in the present moment, while giving them an increased sense of self-acceptance and self-worth.

Music Therapy

Music therapy is more than a music activity. It is the clinical and evidence-based use of music intervention by a board-certified music therapist. Sound affects our physical and emotional well being and affects heart rate, blood pressure, respirations, and release of the body’s natural painkilling chemicals. It assesses the strengths and needs of the patient and designs a plan of treatment that includes creating, singing, moving to and/or listening to live, patient-preferred music within individual, group and/or family sessions.

Because music is non-threatening, enjoyable and enhances brain function, people of diverse ages, backgrounds and abilities can gain therapeutic benefits through music therapy. When offered to those at the end-of-life, music therapy can bind with other healing efforts to address the physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of hospice patients. While not appropriate for every hospice patient, music therapy can be surprisingly effective with an otherwise unresponsive patient.

Who Can Benefit from Hospice Music Therapy?

Music therapy provides the most benefit to patients who:

  • Lack social interaction or lack adequate sensory stimulation due to dementia or functioning
  • Experience pain or other disease symptoms that are difficult to control through traditional medical interventions
  • Feel anxious or have times of agitation
  • Look for a concrete way to cope or to define or articulate feelings or thoughts
  • Face communication problems due to physical or intellectual impairments
  • Need spiritual support, possibly involving other family members

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy is a guided interaction between an individual and a trained animal. It also involves the animal's handler. The purpose of pet therapy is to help a patient cope with health issues. Pet therapy builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond. With this natural relationship, pet therapy can aid in progress towards a patient's goals of improved physical, social, emotional and cognitive functioning.

Some of the medically documented benefits of Pet therapy have been noted in areas like: lowering blood pressure, easing physical and emotional pain, improved memory, increased physical abilities, decreased anxiety and loneliness and at times improved interactions with others. There's nothing like a visit from a four-legged friend to distract patients from their current situation and to brighten their days with a smile.


Reiki (ray-key) in Japanese means “Universal Life Force energy.” It is not a belief system, nor is a belief system needed to enjoy it's benefits. A Reiki treatment supports the whole person physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

During a session, the clothed client will sit or lie comfortably, and the practitioner will place their hands lightly on or over specific areas of the body where physical injury or even emotional pain may cause energy to be stagnate. Reiki aims to help the flow of energy and remove blocks in a similar way to acupuncture or acupressure.

It can be used to relieve stress and promote relaxation. It is often used for personal wellness, stilling the mind, lowering blood pressure, and easing pain. Reiki may reduce anxiety and support a sense of peace. Reiki will not interfere with conventional medicine and is frequently used in conjunction with it.