The Alexander Technique for Therapists

ApplicationMany people who work as a therapist or with healing, for example in chiropractic, osteopathy, massage, Reiki, reflexology, find that they too need treatment for neck/back/shoulder pain, stiffness or tension as a result of the physical ( and other) demands of the work they do.

As an Alexander Technique teacher, I have worked with many therapists for a number of years and have helped them to discover that not only can they themselves find greater ease and freedom of movement but that considerable benefit is then passed on the client too.

If the therapist is in pain, stiff or ‘lacks connection’ in some way to themselves, the client is in some way impacted by this. It is therefore in the interest of both therapist and client for movement to be as free and unrestricted as possible.

Many people, for example, think they are ‘grounded’ when in fact they are not allowing nearly as much support as they could from the connection under the feet. Once they discover this support, the body responds with a lightness, lengthening and release of tension they may not even have been aware of.

How well are you connected within yourself?  FM Alexander, founder of the Technique,  said that we have to connect within before we can connect out.

From a physical point of view, we are talking mainly about muscle connections and neural pathways. As an example, arms which are connecting to the shoulders and neck instead of through the musculature of the back and through to the feet, will cause the flow of energy to be less. It can even mean a stiff neck and aching arms or shoulders for the therapist.

‘You translate everything, whether physical or mental or spiritual, into muscular tension’ ( FM Alexander).  I constantly see the truth of this statement in the work I do. What we call emotion can be included here too. But even when the emotion is released, the person may still be moving from an old pattern, put in place when the ‘emotion’ first caused movement to be restricted. It is important to be able to guide the client to an understanding of how to allow a movement pattern to change, as this will not usually be automatic. Allowing change is not easy. Often ‘ change involves carrying out an activity against the habit of life’ ( FM Alexander).

Many people recognise that they want to ‘do something about themselves’ and look to a therapist as someone who can ‘fix’them.  The Alexander Technique recognises that the only person inside the body 24 hours a day is you and works to teach you how to ‘fix’ yourself, becoming aware of your old habits and allowing change. The hands on aspect of the Technique, which helps to unravel excessive muscular tension and distortion in the body, complements this to enable you to have a new experience of everyday actions and of being fully present in the body.

A therapist who believes he/she is responsible for ‘fixing‘ a client’s problems risks being drained far more than is healthy, by this. It is important, especially now, to be careful about who you give your energy to.