Mary Atkinson Wins FHT Excellence Award

When Mary Atkinson (centre below), FFHT and FHT Accredited course provider, received her 2015 FHT Excellence in Leadership Award she asked to be photographed with red felt hearts as a sign of respect and support for the victims of the Japanese tsunami in 2011. More about the awards ceremony organised by the FHT (Federation of Holistic Therapists) here: FHT Excellence Awards.

FHT awards ceremony 2015The award was given in recognition of Mary’s work with a Japanese charity, Cocoro, founded by Japanese aromatherapist, Takiko Ando, in 2011 to provide aromatherapy and positive touch activities for adults and children in the devastated area. Cocoro means mind/heart in Japanese and the charity works hard to provide for the changing needs of the local in terms of emotional and mental health and well-being. In 2012, Mary was invited to Japan by Takiko Ando and the experience of sharing holistic therapies with the victims of the tsunami left such an impact on her that she is now the UK representative of the charity.



Heartfelt Project

“The red heart is a symbol that we are thinking of those people who are still coming to terms with the destruction and loss of their families and homes,” says Mary,” We have started a Heartfelt Project inviting people to send photographs holding a red felt heart. It is a simple idea but it means so much to the local people to know they are not forgotten by the rest of the world. One of the Cocoro team put together this beautiful book of Heartfelt photos from around the world to give to the local people.”


Talks at FHT Local Support Groups

As UK Representative for the past four years, Mary has travelled around the country, giving talks and sharing her experiences and the valuable lessons she has learnt as a therapist and Story Massage Instructor working with trauma. This work has resulted in a team of more than 100 Cocoro UK supporters, many of whom are FHT members, who actively use their therapy skills to run awareness and fundraising events for the charity. Indeed, many FHT Local Support Groups are featured in the book (above).



FHT Accredited Courses

Mary runs FHT accredited courses in Indian Head Massage and Story Massage, both of which she found beneficial during her visit to the tsunami destroyed area. Indeed, the popular Story Massage book and training course that Mary now runs alongside fellow therapist, Sandra Hooper, was founded as a result of the therapeutic impact of combining story telling and simple massage strokes on the children in Japan. More about Story Massage on the website: Story Massage.

Mary Japan for Home Page

SONY DSCBenefits of Story Massage

“Everyone noticed that children and adults felt calmer and more able to talk about their experiences. It is all about the power of touch.” says Mary who has since travelled to Nepal to share Story Massage with the Empowering Women of Nepal (EWN) programme. Read more here: Story Massage in Nepal.



Story Massage is now being used by FHT therapists in many situations including hospices, special schools, infant massage classes and one-to-one with parents, children and teenagers.


Chernobyl sea copy 2Some have even taken it further afield …. below is a photo of Sarah Williams, MFHT, using Story Massage as part of her visit to a township in South Africa.


Update on Cocoro’s Work

The Cocoro team of therapists visited the tsunami area again in November 2015 to offer holistic therapies and Story Massage. Takiko Ando, founder of the charity, also ran a Positive Touch for Kids training course to train local people to use Story Massage in kindergartens, schools and after-school clubs. Read their latest report here: Update on Cocoro’s Work

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