Patients take part in an art therapy session

If you have cancer, it's natural to want to try anything, including mainstream treatments and alternative therapies, to get better. But not all such therapies are proven to work and some can even be harmful. Here at Yale Medicine, our Integrative Medicine Program provides evidence-based guidance about complementary therapies that are safe for cancer patients and survivors to try without compromising their treatment or recovery.

Our program offers integrative medicine consultations with clinicians who provide guidance about the safe use of herbal and dietary supplements, natural products, acupuncture, massage, meditation and other complementary therapies.

In addition to our integrative medicine consultations with a medical provider, we also offer the following one-on-one and group services free of charge to patients receiving cancer care at Smilow:

Individual sessions:

Art expression

We offer a wide variety of art classes and workshops. Taught by visiting artists, these classes allow you to explore and learn about various art techniques that may provide an outlet or a means to express some of the things you are feeling. Participants may also enjoy taking part in artist-led collaborative installations and projects.

Bedside yoga

Yoga is a mind-and-body practice with origins in ancient Indian philosophy. It combines breathing techniques, physical postures and meditation to reduce anxiety and bring relaxation. At Smilow, you can receive individual bedside yoga therapy, adapted to your individual needs and limitations.

Essential oils

We offer information about which plant-based oils can help promote relaxation, relieve stress and anxiety, and help control insomnia, nausea and pain during your cancer care.

Massage

Here at Yale Medicine, our experienced and licensed therapists are trained in oncology massage, which is used to relieve side effects from cancer and its treatment. Research has shown that massage therapy can be mood-boosting, may help reduce pain, and promotes relaxation.

Reiki

Reiki is a Japanese healing art form. During Reiki sessions, an experienced volunteer practitioner uses a "laying on of hands" approach to promote inner energy as well as relaxation and stress reduction.

Group sessions:

Community choir

Patients, caregivers, staff and volunteers are invited to join voices and experience the uplifting experience of singing together.

Gentle yoga

Group yoga classes incorporate breathing techniques, physical postures, meditation and relaxation that are adapted to your ability level and needs.

Qi gong

A centuries-old mind-and-body practice, Qi gong involves gentle movement combined with mental focus, breathing and relaxation. Qi gong can be practiced while walking, standing or sitting. Practicing Qi gong may help reduce pain and anxiety, and improve general quality of life.

Labyrinth walks

At Smilow's Healing Garden, located on the seventh floor of Smilow Cancer Hospital, patients have access to our meditative "labyrinth walks." A form of what's called "walking meditation," a labyrinth walk can spur contemplation. This garden is a tranquil place to retreat, regroup and renew. The labyrinth walk takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

Meditation

Meditation engages mind and body to promote calmness and physical relaxation, as well as improve psychological balance. Meditating may help you cope with stress and illness, and enhance your overall health and well-being. You can receive instruction from a trained practitioner or from guided meditation CDs that are available in the Patient and Family Resource Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Personal story writing

Patients are invited to work with an experienced mentor on writing the essay of their choice. Writing is helpful as a creative outlet and a way to express difficult feelings. Individuals can contribute to an annual anthology of written works.

Zumba Gold

A gentler form of Zumba, this group class is designed for all fitness levels, blending easy-to-follow dance rhythms with music. Chair-based options are available.